August 14, 2020 Weekly Newsletter

Letter From the Principal

Dear Parents:

I hope you have had a healthy and good week. Here’s what I have been up to this week: 

  1. I met with the District 3 Appeals Review Team to explain our program exemption plan and to answer their questions. They approved our request and moved it on to the Central Review Team. To remind you, this plan will allow us to divide the students into four cohorts of students, each coming in one day a week with a flexible day on Fridays, mostly for special services and support. Seventh and eighth graders would come in on either Monday or Wednesday, while sixth graders will come in on Tuesday or Thursday. The only deviation is for students in a 7th grade 12:1:1 class who will come in on Thursdays. Our in-person school day will be between 4-4.5 hours on those days. 
  2. I received the list of students whose families have chosen 100 % remote. Booker T. has 140 of those students, fairly evenly divided between the three grades. I plan to meet with these families in a separate meeting to discuss our plans for their children. Stay tuned for the date. 
  3. I convened a meeting of our school’s Safety Committee. We discussed everything from  broad safety concerns to the very small details involved with reopening. Each family will be REQUIRED to attend a safety meeting with their children before school opens. This is ESSENTIAL to maintaining a safe environment for all of us. Attendance will be taken. We are putting in place very detailed and structured protocols which we will share at that time.
  4. I have met with Tom Zangara, the Custodial Engineer at Booker T. to review the preparation of the school building and to follow up on the work being done there. As of today, Booker T. has received some hand sanitizer and the electro-sprayer, but none of the other things that have been promised to the school. I understand from my meetings with other principals, that this is fairly consistent.
  5. I attended the FACE Meeting between Chancellor Carranza and the parents. There I heard him say that attendance and grades would “count” and we would return to regular grading and attendance systems. (I’m paraphrasing that last part.) This was the first I heard about grades and attendance. I will keep you posted on what further guidance schools receive. 
  6. I met with the supervisor of the Ryan Health Clinic at Booker T. I was very relieved when she told me that the staff of the clinic would take charge of the isolation room and assessing students who display symptoms. While they believe in temperature checks each morning at school, they have not yet received permission from their parent organization to conduct them. Their request is being considered. Regardless, their role as health providers and screeners is an essential one, and I feel fortunate to have them at Booker T. I will require each student to have a Ryan Health Center consent form on file before starting school so that we can ensure that should a potential-positive COVID case arise, we can get the students the care and supervision they need immediately. I will elaborate more on this at the Safety Meeting. 
  7. I met with the Faculty, whose summer I have interrupted far too many times, to review teaching assignments and the scheduling we have completed. I am grateful for their dedication, flexibility, and their commitment to our students.  
  8. I’ve met twice with other middle school principals in District 3 to hash out ideas and issues and share best practices.  
  9. I’ll stop there…  but I know that I am working around the clock to ensure that your children have a safe, educational, and enriching year.  

I am excited about this coming week’s Sixth Grade Family Nights. It will be a wonderful opportunity for both sixth grade students and parents to meet each other and some members of our faculty. Thank you to Laura Adams, PTA Co-President and Alison Gardy, incoming sixth grade parent and former Booker T. parent for organizing this event. 
REMINDER: The DEADLINE to submit a classmate preference is Sunday night. Late requests will not be accepted. If you would like to express a preference for your child's classmates, please click on the link below to complete the survey. It must be submitted by Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 6:00PM.   
Please note:  

  • Because of scheduling constraints eighth graders will be grouped by their current language. Requesting a classmate who takes a different will not result in a match.  
  • Seventh graders do not yet know their language class, so this should not be a major factor in their rankings,  
  • Sixth graders are not being grouped by language, so this is not a factor at all. 

MS 54 In-Person Class Preferences Survey: 
I am grateful for all of your kind notes and for your support. I continue to feel blessed to work with your children and be a part of this community. 
Elana Elster 

Teachers Have Reopening Questions, Too

With just a few weeks before school reopens, numerous health and safety questions remain unanswered by the DOE. These are causing concern not just for families, but for teachers and staff as well. Click HERE to read the letter from our faculty and staff to the Mayor, Chancellor, District 3 superintendent, and Manhattan executive superintendent. 

You’ll see that there’s significant overlap with the parent advocacy letter HERE we’ve been encouraging parents to send demanding answers for how the DOE will protect the health of students, teachers, and families. If you are worried and haven’t yet sent your letter, please do so this weekend!

Get Your Booker T Spirit Gear, Only 3 Days Left!

You've been waiting all summer for this!! UNTIL AUGUST 17 ONLY there's an online Booker T store selling the classic gear everyone wants! Hoodies, Zippies, PJ’s, t-shirts, and MASKS!! Get them before they sell out at:

Got questions? Email:
Friday Zoom with Dr. Elster on August 21

There’s always new news to share on the school reopening front! Join us Friday, August 21 at 8:30 am to hear the latest reopening updates from Dr. Elster and get your questions answered. Due to privacy issues, these zooms are not recorded. 

DATE: Friday, August 21
TIME: 8:30 AM
Meeting ID: 874 683 3206
Passcode: 951116
One tap mobile
+16465588656,,8746833206#,,,,,,0#,,951116# US (New York)

Last Call for Family Zoom Meet & Greets

Sixth grade families are invited to join a Zoom Meet & Greet with teachers on August 18 or 20 from 7:05 - 8:00 PM. Learn more about the coming year and get to know our teachers and other new parents. Encourage your child to join — if possible, on a separate device — there will be a breakout session for parents & kids! Register HERE.

Community Food Drive Continues

Help Our Hungry Neighbors! Our neighbors are grateful for your generosity during these tough times. To help them, simply place an online grocery order and have it sent to: MS54 Booker T. Washington JHS 
Main Entrance on West 108 Street (between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues)

Please have groceries arrive Monday, August 17 from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM. Please do not order deliveries for the weekend.

Suggested non-perishable pantry items:

  • dry pasta
  • beans (dry and canned)
  • rice
  • tomato sauce 
  • peanut butter
  • jelly
  • canned tuna
  • sardines
  • breakfast cereal
  • oatmeal

Basically anything in boxes, cans, and jars that families often need for meals is helpful!

Please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich at 347-563-5156 or  Thank you in advance for your generosity.

P-EBT Food Benefit Cards

By the end of August, all families of students enrolled at NYC public schools will receive a debit card (P-EBT card) in the mail pre-loaded with $420 per student to help cover the cost of meals while school buildings were closed due to the pandemic. You do not need to take any action — cards will be sent to the address on file or existing EBT cards will be credited the amount. These cards are distributed by the state, not by Booker T, so if you have questions, please visit the NYS FAQ page or call 1-888-328-6399.

Want to learn more about the P-EBT program? Read this terrific Gothamist article.

Request a DOE Learning Device

The DOE is lending internet-enabled iPads to support remote learning for students. If your family has been sharing devices, or has unstable internet, a DOE iPad could be a big help. Here’s the link to request a device: 

School Supplies & Summer Assignments

After we finalize plans for in-person and remote learning, our next step will be to update our recommended student and classroom supply lists. Please stay tuned for more info to come soon! 

Please remind your children to complete their summer assignments. Please note that these assignments will be submitted via google classroom once school resumes. Access to google classroom will be provided to new students after school starts.

LaGuardia High School Info Sessions

The LaGuardia club Take pART invites prospective LaGuardia students & parents to a LaGuardia High School Info Session on Thursday August 20th, 7:30 – 8:30 PM. Please CLICK HERE to register .Meet student representatives from the different studios (Art, Dance, Drama, Instrumental, Tech, and Vocal)! Learn about the arts, academics, auditioning process, students’ unique experiences, and more! The Zoom session will be a presentation from the studio representatives followed by a Q&A. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with log in information. For more information, contact:

School Calendar

August 16: Last day to complete MS 54 In-Person Class Preferences Survey
August 17: 7:30am to 1:30pm is the next delivery window for Community Food Drive
August 17: Last day to order MS54 Back to School Gear
August 18 & 20: G6 Teacher Meet & Greets. Register HERE
August 21
: Friday Zoom with Dr. Elster at 8:30am
September 10: First Day of School???

Community Calendar

August 18: CEC3 Business & Calendar Meeting (Agenda: DOE Schools Reopening Plan) @ 6:30 — Register HERE
August 17: The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) Meeting. Please attend HERE
August 27: DOE Return to School Information Session @ 6:30 — Register HERE

Amazon Reminder

If you are placing orders with Amazon, please remember to always use this link: or click on the Amazon logo on our website and begin your shopping. 

At no extra cost to you, MS54 gets money for every dollar you spend as long as you use our link.
Booker T Facebook Communication Forum

Join MS54's Facebook group - a closed group of the parents, teachers, and staff where information is shared and issues of interest to the community are discussed.  Once a member of our group, anyone can post and share articles and messages with our school community.  

You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2020 MS54 PTA, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp