August 12, 2020
Dear PS 321 Families,
I wish I had answers to all of your questions, but unfortunately I don’t. I know what a challenging time this is for all of us and I appreciate all your support. I will try to answer the questions I can here.
Although September 10 is currently the first day of school for students, I did want to give you a heads up that it is possible that school will start remotely for all students and that the date that the children enrolled in the hybrid/blended model actually come into the school building will be later in the month. This is because there are still so many unanswered questions related to opening buildings safety, including issues with staffing nurses in all schools. No decisions have been made yet about the schedule, although we have been told we should get an official school calendar soon. (It is of course also possible that schools will be all remote for a long period of time, depending on the positive test rate and other factors.)
As of today, 365 students at PS 321 have opted for the all-remote option. We have 935 who will be enrolled in the hybrid option. So at this point, 28% of our students will be all remote and 72% hybrid. We will have at least two remote classes on each grade (possibly more if numbers increase) and the rest hybrid
Note that you do not have to sign up anywhere if you want the hybrid option. However, if you decide you want your child in all remote and didn’t yet sign up, that survey remains open. Please go to the DOE’s Learning Preference Survey form to sign up. I urge you to do this by Friday. We want to be able to give teachers some advance notice as to whether they will be teaching in school or all remote, and we can’t do this if the numbers keep changing.
Many of you have asked whether, if you select all remote now, you can change your mind. You can, quarterly, according to a DOE schedule, which I will outline below:
• The first quarter goes until November 13. If you opt into the all-remote option, you will be all remote at least until then.
• If your child is in all remote and you want to move him or her for the second quarter, you will need to notify the school by October 30.
• The week of November 9, we notify students who are choosing to move to the hybrid model of their new class and schedule.
• November 16—second quarter begins, so children who move from all remote to hybrid begin in their new classes.
There are similar dates for opting back in during the 3rd and 4th quarter. The 2nd quarter ends January 29; the third quarter begins February 1. The 3rd quarter ends April 16; the 4th quarter begins April 19. THESE DATES ARE ONLY RELEVANT TO THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE SELECTED THE ALL-REMOTE OPTION.
There will be daily synchronous instruction in all models—either in person or online. All teachers–remote and those who are teaching in the hybrid model—will be assessing students, giving feedback, and differentiating instruction as needed.
We do not yet know exactly the amount of on-line synchronous instruction that will be given in the all-remote model, but the teacher will have some whole group and some small group or one on one synchronous instruction. There will also be videotaped instruction, assignments, and more.
In both the all remote and hybrid models, children with IEPs will get their mandated services. In the all-remote model they will clearly be remotely; in the hybrid model we imagine that some will be remote and some in person, but much of this is still to be decided by the DOE. A child who has ICT on their IEP will receive support from both a special education and a general education teacher, though we do not yet have exact details on that. Thanks to our generous PTA, even with its reduced budget, we will be able to provide some enrichment to students (both all remote and hybrid) during their remote learning days. Children in both models will have access to the same rich curriculum, and we have over 50 teachers currently designing grade-wide lessons in various curricular areas and in Social Emotional Learning. In both the remote and hybrid models, at the beginning of the year, we will have a strong emphasis on community building, social emotional learning, and becoming familiar with the online tools students will need to use as well as with the rules for being in school in a socially distanced way.
We anticipate children in both the all-remote and hybrid model having specialty teachers teaching art, music, science and possibly other subjects. Some of this will be remote; for the hybrid model some may be in school. Exact details of this will come once we have firmer numbers for each model.
As I have noted in previous communications, we will have two cohorts for the hybrid model. Half of the children will come to school on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and alternate Mondays; half will come on Wednesdays, Fridays, and alternate Mondays. The school day for students in the hybrid model will be 5 ½ hours, from 8:30-2:00 (possibly with some from 8:40-2:10 to stagger start times, but that is not yet decided). Teachers will work a 6 hour and 50 minute day. Certainly our goal is for children to have a consistent teacher for the school year, whether they are learning remotely or in the hybrid model. But, if we have a lot of movement back and forth between the two models, it is possible we will need to reorganize some classes during the school year. This will not be the case if the school has to move to a full remote model due to cases of COVID-19; only if individual children move back and forth between models.
Some of you have reached out and requested that your child have the same schedule as another child with whom you are sharing childcare on remote learning days. We will try very hard to honor these requests, as we understand how challenging the childcare issues are no matter which model you select. WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO TAKE ANY ADDITIONAL REQUESTS AFTER FRIDAY, 8/14, SO IF YOU DO HAVE A REQUEST, PLEASE EMAIL BOTH ME (firstname.lastname@example.org) AND DEB ORR (email@example.com) RIGHT AWAY. I know many of you are waiting until you get your schedule on August 21 to decide whom to share childcare with, which certainly works for us!
Now that we have at least tentative numbers of children who will be in the hybrid/blended model, we see that we will be able to have all the hybrid classes in the main building, and we will not be using the minischool for in-person classes. Because of the significance of appropriate ventilation during this crisis, and the fact that there are some unanswered questions about the HVAC system in the minischool, we are happy that we can do this. We are currently investigating the air circulation in the main building, and if necessary we may purchase air purifiers for these classrooms.
As per above, we now have 935 students who will be coming into school. Once we divide that in half (for the A/B groups), we have fewer than 470 students in the building on any given day. This lower number will make it easier to enter and exit the building in a safe, socially distanced way, and will also make it easier to schedule outside time for every class. We plan to have recess daily in small class groups (11-13 children) supervised by the classroom teacher.
Educators across District 15 and New York City are dedicated to meeting the needs of our diverse students in both the hybrid and all remote models. We are concerned that we continue to have many unanswered questions. Because of this, D15 principals have written a letter to the Mayor, Chancellor, and Governor. If you would like to see this letter, click on this LINK.
Thank you for your support and commitment to our school and our community.