June 16, 2020
Dear PS 321 Families,
As we approach the end of this unusual school year, the Department of Education is starting to plan for next year. Please read the Chancellor’s letter below. As many of you have heard, there is much discussion about a hybrid or balanced learning model that combines some in-school instruction with remote learning. I want to emphasize that no decisions have been made yet and there is very little definite information. But, I do want to share with you what we know at this point.
- Right now individual schools are being asked to think about different models that would allow children to go into school buildings for up to half the time they are normally in school.
- IT HAS NOT YET BEEN DECIDED WHETHER SCHOOLS CAN MAKE INDIVIDUAL DECISIONS OR WHETHER THIS WILL BE A CITY OR STATE DECISION.
- In all of the plans, each class would be divided into smaller groups—ideally two groups, if our rooms are large enough—with each group coming in different days or weeks.
- We are mandated to follow social distancing guidelines, which allow us at PS 321 to have approximately 12 children and 1 staff member in most classrooms. That means that we would have to set up classes to include no more than 24 children, which will mean making some out-of-classroom teachers classroom teachers.
- We are not yet sure what the group size guidelines will be. For example, it is possible that even if we could fit 12 children in a room with social distancing, the state would say we can’t have that many children in one room. If we can only have 9-10 children in a room, we would need to go to a schedule where children are in school only about one third of the time.
- There will most likely be a state or city imposed limit to the number of children a teacher is allowed to be in contact with. So, for example, cluster programs as we know them will most likely not exist and instead many cluster teachers would become classroom teachers to reduce class size. Those who can remain cluster teachers would deliver instruction remotely.
- The models that are being talked about most are:
- Children attending on alternate weeks
- Children attending on alternate days—for example, one group Monday, Tuesday; on group Wednesday, Thursday. Friday either a remote day or a third day for some students.
- Allowing parents who don’t feel comfortable having children in school stay home learn remotely 100% of the time.
Parents are being asked to complete a reopening survey for the Department of Education. PLEASE READ THE LETTER FROM THE CHANCELLOR AND CLICK ON THE LINK THERE TO COMPLETE THIS SURVEY.
In addition, PS 321 will be sending out our own survey later this week to get input from PS 321 parents about preferred models (if we do have a choice) and about parents who do not want to send children to the school building in September. We will also be asking for your opinion on different aspects of remote learning that you participated in this year.
I know what a challenging spring this has been for all of us—parents, students, and staff. I’m sure we all wish that things could just “go back to normal” in the fall, but that is highly unlikely. At this point we do want to try, within the constraints mandated by the city and state, and paying close attention to safety issues, to provide children with the best possible educational situation in the fall.
Thank you for all the ways you have supported your children and our school these past few months.