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MS 88 Town Hall TONIGHT!!! August 6, 2020 04:00 PM

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Health and Safety Update for the 2020 School Year

Dear Parents, I am sending our Chancellor’s letter out again and please understand everything is in draft and tentative so please understand and I will continue to update you on all.In unity,
Ailene Altman Mitchell, Principal

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you and yours are safe and healthy, and experiencing a bit of rest and relaxation this summer. It is essential in a period of uncertainty and stress to take some time to recharge, especially as we look to the beginning of the next school year.  

Last month, I wrote to you with information about our plan for blended learning in the fall. Today, I am writing to share details about some newly announced health and safety protocols, which are critical in what will be an unprecedented school year. Uncertainty is a constant during this pandemic, and our plans must be flexible enough to allow us to adapt as circumstances change. But in all cases, your safety and the safety of our students and families will be the first priority—no matter what.  

We all experienced anxiety and alarm from the events of this pandemic starting back in March, as the City struggled to understand this disease and the crisis was emerging. Since then, we have been working diligently and in partnership with other city agencies to build on the lessons learned and prepare fully for a new school year. We are committed to working in partnership with you to determine our next steps by listening to your suggestions and concerns, providing the fullest possible transparency in ever-changing circumstances, and drawing on your feedback and on the best-available public health guidance to craft our plans for the fall. This includes the policy on COVID-19 testing and tracing we announced at the end of last week, and is described here.  

Full details of the protocols are available on the DOE website. I also encourage you to read the plan we recently submitted to the State Department of Health, which covers a great deal of information related to school operations for the 2020-21 school year. More information and guidance on non-school workplaces will be forthcoming as well.  

The major components of our health and safety planning include the following: 

·         Building Safety Measures:   

o   At all times, students and staff must wear face coverings protecting their nose and mouth while on school property or on DOE-provided transportation, unless students cannot medically tolerate a face covering or wearing the face covering is developmentally inappropriate. Central will provide these, along with disinfectant; hand sanitizer; and electrostatic sprayers.  

o   School leadership and facilities staff in every school are reviewing school space and making necessary repairs and adjustments to ensure safe conditions for in-person student learning, including repairs to HVAC systems, maximizing ventilation, and replacing regular air filters with higher efficiency types.    

o   Schools will be cleaned throughout the day and disinfected each night, with special attention to high-touch areas.  

o   School buildings will display signage on face coverings, hand washing and physical distancing.   

o   Schools will be allowed to modify or reconfigure spaces to ensure compliance with physical distancing rules.  

o   More information and guidance on non-school workplaces will be forthcoming as well.   

·         Test, Trace & Other Health Protocols:   

o   DOE recommends that all staff take a COVID-19 test in the days before the first day of school and monthly throughout the school year. Staff will have priority access for testing at 34 city-run testing locations, with tests provided free of charge and with expedited results. Free testing is also available for families citywide.   

o   If a student or teacher is feeling sick, they are required to stay home and, if their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, are asked to get tested.   

o   If a student begins experiencing symptoms in school, they will be isolated and monitored by a dedicated staff member until they are picked up by their parents or guardians.  

o   Staff members who become symptomatic at school are asked to notify administration and immediately leave the building.   

o   In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case in a school, NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health will investigate to determine close contacts within the school. All students and teachers in the classroom with the confirmed case are assumed close contacts and will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure to that case. In older grades where students may travel between classes, this applies to all classes that the confirmed case was in.   

o   If there’s more than one case in a school, and it’s not in the same classroom, learning will continue remotely and the school building will close for at least 24 hours while NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health investigate. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, affected classrooms or the whole building will remain closed for 14 days for quarantine. The protocol lays out additional steps for each possible exposure scenario.  

o   There will be a clear flow of information to facilitate fast action and prevent spread. A positive confirmed case will trigger an investigation by the NYC Test + Trace Corps and DOHMH to determine close contacts within the school, and to work with the DOE to issue clear guidance and decisions based on the outcome of the investigation. Schools will communicate to all families and students within the school any time a case is laboratory confirmed.  

·         Screening, Entry/Dismissal and Movement Protocols: To minimize the number of individuals who come in contact with each other, and to identify potentially sick students and staff to the greatest extent possible, schools will be required to develop entry and dismissal protocols consistent with all applicable health guidance, as well as to redesign building movement protocols to keep people in cohorts and allow for physical distancing consistently.  

As a reminder, full details of the protocols are available on the DOE website. I also encourage you to read the plan we recently submitted to the State Department of Health, which covers a great deal of information related to school operations for the 2020-21 school year. More information and guidance on non-school workplaces will be forthcoming as well.  

Additionally, principals and educators can see newly-released detailed instructional guidance and sample school-day schedules on the InfoHub. We will issue more information as we develop policies and protocols for a school year like none before, and we will keep you closely abreast of these developments.  

You have done an extraordinary job of rising to the challenge of this crisis, and our city owes you both a debt of gratitude and a rock-solid commitment to your health and safety as we move forward together. I know that I speak for all of the Department’s leadership in saying that your health and safety are deeply important to us on a personal level. We are humbled by your commitment and service to our students and families.  

Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to incorporate your feedback in order to ensure that these protocols best account for the conditions you are facing. In everything we do, we pledge to keep listening, to keep improving, and to value your health and safety, and the health and safety of our students, above all else.   

In unity, 

Richard

Letter to Families

Dear Parents and Families,

I hope this email finds you well, and you are enjoying a safe and relaxing summer.  As of this moment, we will be returning to school using a blended model approach, combining remote learning with some social-distanced time at school based on a selection of models that the Chancellor has developed [LINK].  I would like to keep you updated with the status of our plans for reopening in September, but please know that these are tentative plans that may continue to change daily due to the nature of the COVID crisis; and the many agencies contributing to the decision-making process. 

I recognize that this is an unsettling time, and that continued unpredictability creates uncertainty, and guidelines may yet change, and circumstances may require us to alter our approach.  While we are planning for a rich learning experience in our building, we are simultaneously preparing for a robust and exciting virtual program.

The Chancellor has asked that we select one of the hybrid models provided  for our “blended” school opening that combines remote and in-school learning. Our SLT, PTA, and Space Planning Committee agreed that a 6-day cycle that brings 1/3 of our students to the building for 2 consecutive days/ 4 remote days, will work best for maintaining consistency of programming for our core subjects.  Fortunately for us this model supports our house structure and will allow each of our houses to stay together in-person and remote. Teachers will provide feedback and continuous preparation for the work that students will be doing at home as we continue to use Google Classroom as our remote learning hub.

Teachers will be planning a cohesive and complementary curriculum for virtual and live learning and will be sharing the scope and sequence with parents on our website.  Please note that on Friday, August 7th, 2020, Governor Cuomo has scheduled an announcement about New York State’s school opening guidelines, so we will of course be subject to his directive.  Many families will have child care issues. The Mayor is working on a plan to provide more resources to families, and you will receive further updates on the matter.

Parents also have the option to select all-remote learning if they are not comfortable with sending their child to school.  You should have received a Learning Preference Survey 2 weeks ago from the DOE with a response due by August 7.  Several of our teachers will be teaching remotely. These educators are extraordinary teachers and will be leading our remote learning program.

Student programming and cohort (houses) information will be shared and distributed to families in late August. As you can see, returning to school is an incredible undertaking and we have planned for many scenarios.

I will provide you with more updates once I have the information and please note the most recent timelines for schools listed below:

8/7: Learning Preference Surveys due 

8/10: Schools receive Learning Preference Survey results and staff accommodation approval results 

8/14: Last day for principals submit program model selection 

8/21: Last day for Superintendents and District Review Teams to review all school submissions. 

8/21: Schools with DRT approval, may begin programming students. 

8/28: Last day for re-submission of models (only schools whose model submissions were not approved by DRT during initial submission) 

8/28: Schools can notify parents 

8/28: School plans are posted 

The following guidelines are in place to address health and safety accommodations. 

Some new school safety protocols will include:  

  • keeping students socially-distanced in the classroom (6-feet apart) 
  • depending on the size of the classroom, scheduling only 9-12 students per room 
  • working closely with our school-based health clinic, to care for our students and support our efforts for disease prevention 
  • wearing masks at all times – staff and students; encouraging frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer 
  • staying at home if sick (we will have an isolation room for any student who has symptoms or is seen by our nurse practitioner and awaiting parent pick-up) 
  • disinfecting the classrooms each night; more frequent cleaning of high touch areas and bathrooms 
  • keeping windows and doors open for optimal ventilation 
  • using more doors for entry and dismissal to avoid large gatherings outside and in stairways and halls 

In addition to these precautions, we are awaiting more guidance on health checks for staff and students before entering the building and possible restrictions regarding lunch and recess. We are preparing to implement every strategy to maintain optimal conditions for safety and learning. 

As our teachers and administrators are working to build this hybrid model for learning in the fall, we will draw upon our experiences from remote learning to inform our plans.  We hope to improve the remote experience as well as capitalize on our in-person learning by providing small group instruction and social-emotional support.  Our priority is and remains the emotional and physical well being of our community. The goal is to run a full educational (remote/in person), social and emotional support program in the safest way possible, with strict adherence to all health requirements, guidelines and recommendations. 

I will continue to share any and all updates.  Thank you for your support, patience and understanding.  I look forward to seeing students and getting back to the new-normal in teaching and learning at M.S. 88.

If you are interested in more information from the NYCDOE, please view their 2020-2021 School Year Website.  

Please join us for a Town Hall meeting this Thursday.  Our amazing Parent Coordinator, Tracy Jordan will follow up with details. 

My very best,

Ailene Altman Mitchell, Principal

The Park Slope Education Complex at M.S. 88

544 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Phone: 718-788-4482

Fax: 718-768-0213

amitche2@schools.nyc.gov

https://ms88.org/

http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/15/K088/default.htm