No Words of Consolation, No Idea How to Process

Dear Families: 

I have no words of consolation, no idea how to process where we are in the midst of this social isolation.  And my heart is broken at the thought of not seeing your children in the next few weeks, and perhaps not even after spring break.  

In the next few days, we will plan the BNS Remote Classroom.  Stay tuned.  

In the meantime, I want to take a moment to remember our former custodian, Hank Friedland, who passed away from cancer last Friday.   Hank was a wonderful human being, a man who reminded me of the importance of humility, humanity, and kindness.  I am so sorry to not have him still out and about at 610.  

A memory of Hank:  He is sweeping in Steve’s room.  I wander by and observe. He keeps stopping.  He stops to read the students’ words on the wall, he stops to admire the many artifacts, he stops to ponder each child’s artwork.  Hank sees me and says, “Every time I clean, I learn so much.”  

When Hank started to struggle with his health, he told me that the custodial work was getting to be too much, but he loved being in the building.  Would I nominate him to be a paraprofessional? Nominate him, I did. Sadly, he was never able to follow through.  

As we struggle with the situation we are in, let’s keep Hank’s wisdom in our hearts.  And thank you, Hank, for the photograph, previously published on Instagram.

I close with a poem by Pablo Neruda:


Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,

let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for one second,

and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.

Thinking of all of you during this difficult and sad time.


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Dateline: from the DOE website

For the remainder of this week, teachers and administrators will participate in professional development on remote learning, and students will begin picking up materials for continued instruction.

The schedule, as we move to remote learning, is as follows: 

  • Monday, March 16: Citywide closure. Students, teachers, and principals do not report.  
  • Tuesday, March 17-Thursday, March 19: All staff reports. Teachers and principals participate in professional development on remote learning. 
  • Thursday, March 19-Friday, March 20: Students who need it will be able to begin the process of picking up the technology necessary for remote learning. More guidance to families will be sent this week. 
  • Monday, March 23: Remote learning launches, with additional guidance provided throughout the week of the 23. 

Monday, March 23

Effective Monday, March 23, Regional Enrichment Centers will be available for the children of first responders, healthcare workers, and our most vulnerable populations, with more details to follow.

Additionally, remote learning will go into effect for grades K-12. DOE will support schools at all levels of readiness to deliver remote learning, and more information will be provided to families about online platforms.


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