Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year! On behalf of the entire PS 56 staff, we are eager to provide the children with an engaging, fun, and exciting learning experience for all. While we know that the upcoming school year will be like no other we have experienced before, we are ready to welcome the children back, engage our learners virtually and in the physical space, and to create a community of learners and community of leaders that will change the world!
Attention to the social emotions needs of the children will be at the forefront of our approach. We know that our children are returning to school after an extended period of detachment from the physical school environment. Additionally, we understand that many students and families may have experienced trauma and loss since they left school. We know that things will look and feel different for those returning the physical building and for our remote learners. As a result, we will pay special attention to the health and well-being of the students by doing the following:
- Utilizing our Leader in Me initiatives in order to establish a culture of emotional responsiveness, self-care, and wellness.
- Dedicating the first few weeks of school to providing social and emotional support to children in the building and in the virtual space.
- Integrating Social Emotional Learning into the core curriculum.
- Strengthening our partnerships to refer families to resources available in the community when needed.
For families whose children will return to the school building within our Hybrid Learning Model, many safety measures will be in place. However, we will still pay careful attention to ensuring that the children are still entering a warm and happy space where their social-emotional needs are met. Some of the safety measures that will be in place upon the children’s return are:
- Face coverings required inside school buildings. Exceptions will be developmentally and age-appropriate, consistent with guidance of health agencies, and paired with increased Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff.
- At all times, having ample cleaning supplies and materials to help protect students and staff from COVID-19, including hand sanitizer, soap, disinfectants, and thermometers. Increasing hand washing opportunities throughout the school day.
- Monitoring and ensuring that the maximum number of sinks available for handwashing.
- Working with our building staff to ensure cleaning occurs throughout the school day, with special attention to high-touch areas.
- Lunch in classrooms to minimize interaction between groups of students.
- Screening a random number of students prior to entering the building.
- Utilizing outdoor space and outdoor learning as much as possible.
Teaching and learning is at the forefront of everything we do. After our transition to fully remote instruction last March, our staff gained valuable experience in the practices needed for effective remote instruction. We know that even though some children will be returning to the physical school building this year, many students will still be learning from home. We pledge to maintain a high level of instruction, both in person and remote, throughout our school so that our children can thrive. Some of the aspects to our school year will include:
- The students receiving instruction through both live interaction with their teachers on video and assignments, projects, and work to be completed independently throughout the course of the school day and week.
- Live, synchronous instruction will be delivered daily in short intervals (15-20 consecutive minutes) throughout the day for young learners and will increase based on developmental appropriateness and grade-level.
- Schedules for all students for those fully remote as well as those participating in blended learning, will be posted for parents to plan their work and family commitments accordingly.
The past few months have also demonstrated an urgent need to teach our students about our society and the ways in which people of color continue to experience racism across the country. During the spring, we engaged in dialogue and shared resources among the staff to help our teachers gain valuable tools to teach anti-racism and to foster a culturally responsive curriculum to ensure that all of our children’s voices are heard. We pledge to continue the dialogue among our stakeholders, our teachers, parents, and most importantly the children, so that we can further the goal of an anti-racist nation.
Finally, we will continue to work to meet the needs of all children, especially those with special needs, English as a New Language students, and Students in Temporary Housing. We pledge to lift all students and provide an equitable education for all.
I thank our amazing staff for their preparation as we enter the new school year, our PTA and parent community who have worked so hard to provide crucial supports, and most of all our students, who are eagerly anticipating connecting with their peers, both in the building and remotely. I welcome our new families to our amazing PS 56 community. Our community continues to grow and develop. Let’s continue to have an open dialogue, to collaborate so that all voices are heard and are valued, and to grow our school community despite the challenges. I look forward to seeing everyone soon!