November 30, 2020
Dear PS 321 Families,
I am very pleased that our hybrid students will be back in school on MONDAY, DECEMBER 7. We’ve missed them! On December 7, those students who were all-remote who opted to switch to hybrid by the deadline will also begin in hybrid classes. We will be working on class assignments this week and will let you know by the end of the week which class and cohort these new hybrid students will be in.
One confusing part of the Mayor’s announcement had to do with the possibility of having children currently learning through the hybrid or blended model come into school 5 days a week. As much as we would love to see these students every day, it is not possible at PS 321. AT PS 321 WE WILL HAVE TO CONTINUE WITH THE HYBRID MODEL OF CHILDREN COMING IN HALF TIME. As an article in the New York Times made clear this morning, the possibility of 5-day-a-week school applies to schools that have both the space and staffing available to make this transition. They gave an example of schools where only 3-4 children were showing up in each class. In that case it is easy to see how you could combine the two cohorts and have a class of 8 children come daily. The city has been clear that they are continuing to demand social distancing in the classroom, and as long as that requirement is in place, we have no extra teachers to add new classes. Even to do this on one grade would require 6-7 additional teachers and changing teachers for half of the grade so that every teacher had only one cohort. We simply do not have the staff to do this.
At PS 321, we have had excellent attendance among our hybrid students, and most are here whenever their cohort is scheduled to be in school. Although we do have several empty seats per grade, most of them will be filled by Monday when we add the children who are switching from all-remote to our hybrid classes.
THE ONE CHANGE THAT WILL BE PUT IN PLACE IS THAT CHILDREN IN GRADES 1-5 MUST HAVE A SIGNED CONSENT TO BE TESTED IN SCHOOL IN ORDER TO ATTEND IN PERSON. ANY CHILDREN WHOSE FAMILIES HAVE NOT SIGNED THIS CONSENT FORM BY MONDAY WILL BE MOVED TO ALL-REMOTE CLASSES. (Kindergarten students are exempted from testing and so do not need to have these signed forms.) Please go to your NYC Schools Account (mystudent.nyc) to sign for consent if you have not already done so. We will be reaching out to families this week to remind those who have not signed consent to do this right away. We hope very much that 100% of our hybrid families will sign consent for testing. However, if you are sure you will not be signing, please email Deb Orr at email@example.com so we can place your child in an all-remote class. Testing will now be done weekly in schools, with 20% of the students being tested each week. We have already had two rounds of testing (with no positive results), and the testing is quick and not painful. It is a simple short-swab nasal test. The medical teams who have been testing are very sensitive to young children, and a PS 321 staff member remains with the children during testing.
It continues to be essential that all of us, families and staff, continue to follow all safety procedures including wearing masks and maintaining social distance. Note that the requirements for closing individual schools remain the same (more than two unrelated COVID cases in the school causes the school to close temporarily), and we very much want to avoid having to close school again. If you traveled internationally or for more than 24 hours to a state that is not contiguous to New York State, your child must have had an earlier COVID test while in the other state and then a COVID-19 test on the fourth day back in New York State. If those results are both negative, the child can return to school. If the child is not tested, he/she cannot return to school for 14 days after returning to New York State.
Thank you for all your support through these transitions. And a huge thank you to our teaching staff! Teachers transitioned so quickly to all-remote learning so we could do our best to meet the needs of all of our students, no matter what model we were working under.
This week we are holding our virtual parent teacher conferences. Most conferences will be Thursday evening and Friday afternoon, but individual teachers may make alternative times. NOTE THAT SCHOOL ENDS AT 11:20 FOR ALL STUDENTS ON FRIDAY, 12/4, TO ALLOW TIME FOR PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES. Report cards for students in grades 1-5 will be available on your NYC Schools Account (mystudent.nyc) on Wednesday, 12/2. Narrative reports will be emailed to Kindergarten families on that same day.
We look forward to seeing our hybrid students back in school next week. OUR MONDAY COHORT SCHEDULE IS NOT CHANGING, SO ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 7, COHORT A WILL BE IN SCHOOL.
Liz Phillips, Principal
PS—Despite all the transitions, our PS 321 Coat Drive will continue. It will take place this week and you will be able to leave gently used coats in two bins in front of the school near the front doors. We are also extending the drive to next week when we will be back in school, as it will be easier for some to drop off coats then.
November 30, 2020