March 13, 2020
Dear PS 321 Families,
Thanks so much for being receptive to our phone parent teacher conferences! Given the circumstances, I think that these worked very well.
At this point, I am sure that most of you know that as of now, schools will be open next week. The Mayor and the Governor see school closure as a last resort because of the impact on so many different aspects of life for children and parents. Things do change quickly though, and the DOE and individual schools are putting plans in place should schools have to close.
I want to share some updates with you, and reiterate some of the things I said in my last letter.
• All Field Trips are cancelled. That includes walking trips, yellow or chartered bus trips, and trips on public transportation.
• Large gatherings that include people other than the children in school are being cancelled. So, for example, we have told parents that they will not be able to attend the 5th grade Musical Theater performance. We have cancelled upcoming evening events, including the workshop on Empathy originally scheduled for March 18 and the Neighborhood Classics Concert scheduled for March 26.
• In an effort to reduce large gatherings, we request that at dismissal you leave quickly after you pick up your child. If you want to come back at 3:20 so your child can play in the yard, that is fine.
• Evening or weekend programs in the school that involve large gatherings, such as soccer, are cancelled.
• Our school-based after school programs (Kids’ Clubs, Small Group Academic Support) will continue.
• Some private after school programs that pick up at PS 321 are closing. That includes the organization with the largest pick up numbers, CBE. If you use such a program, please check and if that program is not picking up, make alternate arrangements for your child.
• If a child or staff member in a particular school tests positive for COVID-19, that school will be closed for 24 hours and deep cleaned. In some cases, the closure could last more than 24 hours, but that will be decided on a case-by-case basis. In cases where a parent or relative of a child or staff member tests positive, precautions will be taken but schools will not be closed.
• We do not yet know whether the New York State ELA and Math Exams will take place as scheduled (on March 25 & 26 and April 22 & 23) or will be postponed. We hope to have more information about this soon, as it is in just a little over a week, and we will be in touch when we do.
• We have prepared materials grade by grade for students who need to stay home for an extended period. If your child is staying home please notify the teacher and she will send you an email with the suggested materials. In addition, the DOE has prepared extensive resources. Go to www.schools.nyc.gov and click on “Learn at Home.”
• On that same website you can find coronavirus updates. You can also go to www.nyc.gov/coronavirus.
• Our custodial staff is working very hard and has increased deep cleanings in school to twice a week. This includes cleaning door handles, light switches, railings, and other things touched by a lot of people.
• We have been given extra cleaning supplies and have been told that hand sanitizer is on order for schools.
• Teachers are helping students practice good hygiene, including frequent handwashing or hand sanitizing and trying to keep hands away from the face. They are also changing routines that involve touching. For example, rather than a high 5 at dismissal they will put in place a different signal such as a wave or elbow bump.
• We are so fortunate to have two highly skilled nurses on staff, Melissa Casey and Anyelina Geneo-Dea. They are a huge support at this time. If your child has a fever you will be called to pick him/her up. We would appreciate it if you can get here promptly if you are called. In cases where a child exhibits a combination of symptoms that might indicate she/he has COVID-19, proper protocols, including isolation are followed until the child is picked up.
• We urge you to keep children who are sick at home. This is extremely important. If children have a fever and either a cough or shortness of breath, they are supposed to stay home for 72 hours after they are fever-free without medication. Although most children and adults will only experience mild symptoms if they get COVID-19, we have both children and staff members who are in high-risk categories, which is why it is so important to keep sick children home.
Our entire staff has been truly extraordinary during this challenging time, and I am so grateful to all of them, as well as to our very supportive families. Have a good, healthy weekend!