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August 21, 2020 Weekly Newsletter


                        
Letter From the Principal

Dear Parents,
Thank you for joining us this morning and for all of your questions. I want to review some of the overarching planning decisions that I, along with the School Leadership Team, have made. We recognized that we will have to make compromises and hard choices and join you in wishing that things were different. I also remind you that our desire to keep the entire community safe has driven every decision.
Major Overarching Planning Decisions:

  • In order to maximize teaching and learning, the majority of instruction will be done remotely by teachers in live time through Zoom. 
  • We will continue to use Google Classroom as a platform for supporting instruction and for the assignment and collection of work, and we will use Jupiter for grades and record keeping. For those of you who are new to the community, we will hold workshops to introduce/teach you to use these systems.
  • Much of the in-person days will be used for enrichment, remediation, assessment, and supplemental learning opportunities not conducive to a remote venue.
  • Teachers and students will remain as a unit.  Your child will have a consistent teacher for each subject area.
  • Students will remain with the same small subset of the class, in the same room for the entire time they are in the building. Teachers will move to them. The only exception will be outdoor physical education.
  • Students with ICT support will be taught by at least two special education teachers for 2/3 major subjects (humanities, math, science.) The other teacher will be a general education teacher. They will still have access to a special education teacher for the third subject when support is needed.
  • We have prioritized humanities, math, and science for all students, whether remote or in-person. Given the limited time we had, we felt this was important.
  • Given the staffing constraints, we will try to offer as many enrichment classes as possible, but not everyone will be able to take language, music, art, PE, health and technology in a blended model.
  • Students who have selected 100% remote will be placed in a group and cohort together with students who have chosen blended. The rationale for this is as follows: If the students change their minds and then decide to return to the building, it will not be necessary for them to change to new teachers. Furthermore, this will also ensure that they are taught by Booker T. teachers and in classes with other Booker T. students. Although Chancellor Carranza originally promised this, he has since realized that staffing issues cannot support this for every school.  There is somewhat of a trade-off, however, on your part. On the day when your child’s classmates are in school, your child will be working without in-person teacher support. Know, however, that in many schools that is the norm for some part of the day. If this is not something that you are satisfied with, then I will explore getting your child connected to the cadre of citywide remote teachers. Please let me know as soon as possible if this is your preference.

We intend to send out your child’s cohort next week. That means you will know which day your child will be in the building. Class assignments (the group of 9) will not be communicated until after Labor Day.

The slides I shared this morning can be found HERE. Over the weekend, I will review the chat box and provide answers to any questions I have not addressed.

Unfortunately, I cannot give you the school supply list today, but will work on that this weekend and get it to you early next week.
 
Elana Elster
 

Reopening Advocacy Still Needed

With only three weeks left before school starts, reopening questions abound. Dr. Elster is doing everything possible but there are issues beyond her control. To understand more about what’s happening, here are two recent articles:

Washington Post: Eight Big Problems with New York City Mayor’s Reopening Plan (OpEd)

Chalkbeat: Carranza Says State Budget Cuts Threaten 9000 Teacher Jobs and In-Person Learning

If you have concerns, consider sending this parent advocacy letter to demand answers from the DOE. The letter has been updated to reflect what we know as of this week.

Activate Your Child's NYC School Account

NYC School accounts allow families to view their child’s official transcript, attendance records and other information maintained by the DOE. However 25% of Booker T families are missing accounts. If you can login to https://mystudent.nyc/ and see your child's name, you're set! If not, please call Parent Coordinator Anne Pejovich at 347-563-5156 or amcintosh6@schools.nyc.gov to set it up.

Sixth Grade Activity Sessions Coming Soon!

Teachers are planning fun and creative activities for incoming sixth graders the week of August 31! Be on the lookout for activity specifics and registration details coming soon!

Food Drive for Community + Neighbors

Please contact Anne Pejovich if you are in need of grocery assistance.

To help our community members and neighbors, have an online grocery order sent to: 

MS54 Booker T. Washington JHS Main Entrance on West 108 Street
(between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues) 

Deliveries accepted every weekday until Labor Day from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM!

Suggested non-perishable pantry items:

Dry pasta or rice
Beans (dry and canned)
Tomato sauce 
Peanut butter & jelly
Canned tuna or sardines
Breakfast cereal and/or oatmeal
Shelf stable milk such as Parmalat
Applesauce and other healthy snacks

Anything in boxes, cans and jars that families often need for meals is helpful.

Please contact Anne McIntosh Pejovich with any questions at 347-563-5156 or amcintosh6@schools.nyc.gov and THANK YOU to all who have already donated!

School Supplies & Summer Assignments

We know you’re eager to buy school supplies!! 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. Summer assignments are due once school is back in session.

P-EBT Food Benefit Cards

Be on the lookout for your child(ren)’s P-EBT Food Benefit cards in the mail! Read this terrific Gothamist article to learn more. 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.

DOE Info & Updates
Learning Bridges
As the New York City public schools reopen this fall, most schools and sites will operate on a blended learning model. If you're in need of child care support on the days when your child is scheduled for remote learning, The DOE is piloting a program called "Learning Bridges". Please complete this survey to express interest in the Learning Bridges program, which will provide child care options for children from 3-K through 8th grade this fall on days when they are not in school buildings. The information collected  will be used to guide the City's planning for the Learning Bridges program. Families can expect more information about a potential placement in the coming weeks.

Please note: programs will become available on a rolling basis through the start of school.


iPad Workshops for Parents
Apple, in partnership with the DOE, is providing a series of sessions to help parents and guardians set up iPads for their children. These sessions will include parental controls, screen time, navigating the device and exploring built-in apps and features. 

Upcoming Sessions:
8.22.20 - Parental Controls and Restrictions
8.22.20 - Getting Started in iPad
8.22.20 - Staying Organized in iPad

To learn more and register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/c/virtual-learning-sessions-for-parents-and-guardians-cwxfgfg--beARTvQjsYtF/.


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: https://coronavirus.schools.nyc/RemoteLearningDevices 

Community Info Sessions

The Riverside Library and The Princeton Review is holding a webinar on the specialized high school admissions process/test for middle school students and a series of virtual college prep info sessions next month. The virtual events are open to students, families and educators. Advanced online registration is required.

College and Career Pathways & Princeton Review Information Series 

SHSAT & Specialized High School Admissions During COVID-19
Thursday, Sept. 10, 5 p.m.

COVID-19 and College Admissions
Tuesday, Sept. 15, 5 p.m.

Finding Your Best Fit College from the Comforts of Home
Wednesday, Sept. 23, 5 p.m.

The COVID-19 Gap Year: Do's and Don'ts
Monday, Sept. 28, 5 p.m.

Register here: tinyurl.com/yymktedd 

Events Calendar
August 27: DOE Return to School Information Session @ 6:30 — Register HERE
August 31 September 4: New Student Activity Zooms (Info coming soon!)
September 10: First Day of School

Amazon Reminder
When you place an Amazon order, please use this link: http://tinyurl.com/ms54amazon or click on the Amazon logo on our website before you begin shopping. That way, MS54 gets a percentage of every dollar you spend (at no cost to you!). Thanks, everyone!!
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