Welcome to the Most Unusual School Year Ever

Dear Families:

We welcome you to the most unusual school year ever. Rather than lamenting that which we have lost, let’s approach the fall with a focus on that which is possible.  

We enter September as a strong community of individuals and families, committed to our children.  We enter September needing to do things differently, knowing that life as we knew it has changed.  We enter September keeping our children in our hearts and front and center.  

We enter September with confusion and uncertainty about where and how kids should be taught.  We enter September surrounded by conflict and clear disagreement about what is safe and how to be during a pandemic.  

We enter September after a summer of social unrest resulting in the clear need for open discussion of systemic racism in all of our classroom and adult communities.

We enter September wondering if in person learning will really begin on September 21 and not knowing if we will truly be able to return to the building.  

We also enter September participating in a plan that is built on a house of cards.  As parents, you have opted for different learning structures.  Your child will either be in school every day, two or three days a week, or at home.  Children will be guided by a learning team with various individuals supporting them when they are at home or in school.  Consider each of these adults someone to turn to with your questions and needs.  

Many of you feel confused as to which learning option to choose and are reading conflicting messages.  Please remember when making this choice or changing your mind, that you must do what you think is best.  You know more than anyone what will be right for your child and family. If you are rethinking which cohort is best, please email Diane ASAP at diane@bns146.org so that your child’s school experience is cohesive. 

Whether we like it or not, this pandemic is forcing us to reimagine education.  With this in mind, we must thank the many staff members who helped us to develop a framework for the school year.  

Next week, you will receive your summer packet, including a missive from the grade level team.  You will also find out the crew that your child is in and the names of the people who will be supporting your child.  Just as some of your children are at home so too are some of the educators.  But at all moments whether your child is home or in school, there will be a person responsible for supporting your child.  

Throughout this school year, we will work hard to educate your youngster, and to work with you to nurture your children, knowing that they are growing up in a time of transition, a time that will impact their development and learning in ways that we can not yet understand.

As a school community, we enter September missing Carol Williams, a beloved BNS grandmother who passed away from cancer this summer.  For those who didn’t know Carol, suffice it to say that Carol was and is the Brooklyn New School.  A great friend of our kindergarten teacher, Mary Ann, Carol was one of the original parents of BNS.  Back in the eighties, she was always at school, always helping and inspiring.  What energy!  What spirit!  Carol’s son, Corey, was in one of the earliest of BNS classes.  Her daughter, Angelique, came a little later.  And since then, there have been many a Williams at BNS.  Our heart goes out to the Williams family.  Be on the lookout for emails regarding a scholarship program in Carol’s name.

Since the spring, additional staff have left the school in order to be with their families. One of our school psychologists, Candice, has moved out of state.  In her stead, Giovanna Galante will join our School Support Team.  Key, a wonderful educational assistant from Andrew and Greta’s class will stay home in order to support her own children’s online learning, while Benjamin Trimmier, a long serving educational assistant, and Amy Binin, a brilliant PK teacher, have chosen to retire.  As well, speech therapist, Cori, has moved on to another school.  We will miss all of them.

One final word on staffing.  Third grade teacher, Malika Johnson-Willis, will take on an administrative role in addition to her teaching.  Malika will be supporting Assistant Principal, Diane, and myself as we prepare BNS for the ever changing structure of this school year and as we look towards 2021- 2022.   Malika will also be overseeing everything remote so if you have a question regarding the remote program, please reach out to Malika at malika@bns146.org.   In June of 2021, I will retire, knowing that Brooklyn New School will be in good hands and that the vision of BNS is both sustainable and continuous.  

What do I mean by the “ever changing structure of this school year”?  Well first and foremost, if you have been following the news then you know the many concerns about the conditions of New York City public schools, whether we are talking about ventilation, water pressure, or heat and cold.  Let us not forget that the reason so many of your children are learning from home is because we do not have enough space to teach all of the children at a time.  Schools are also struggling with staffing since so many are working from home.  It has taken a pandemic to expose our society’s lack of care for childhood and education and it is now glaringly obvious.  

When the pandemic hit, many educators and parents worked to get the city to consider outdoor learning as one solution.  Only towards the end of summer was this possibility given a green light and only now are we able to plan for teaching on the streets.  We are doing that and look forward to seeing the area around the school alive with students and teachers.  Some of you have asked to switch from remote to in person because of this, but of course, we can not guarantee that the children will be outside every minute of every day and are unable to move children from remote to in person learning unless there is enough square footage in that particular classroom.  As outdoor learning becomes better envisioned, we will keep you abreast of our plans.  

 

Indoors, though, things will be different.  Room assignments will be determined by the number of children in the group, and not by the grade level. We will need some help moving books and materials.  With safety a priority, children and adults will need to remember to be socially distant and to wear their masks at all times.  Every time a child or adult enters or leaves the classroom, they will be required to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.  If we follow these instructions, the experts say we can keep each other safe.  

Make a point of checking your email on a regular basis as clearly this will be a year with news and changes that you will need to know about.  Speaking of email, with remote learning comes a greater use of technology and social media by our children.  And with that, comes a need for further vigilance from you.   Our teachers will teach digital responsibility, but it is up to you to oversee your children and remind them about appropriate and respectful online communication.

Some of you may be wondering about enrichment this year.  Obviously, the new contract, schedule, and requirements will change how we teach other subjects.  For now, the plan is for students to receive music and art instruction digitally while physical education will be in person for those who are on site.  Our PE teachers, Victor and Brandon, will also offer online engagement for those who are at home.

Another change this year will be around meetings.  We normally welcome new families in our beautiful library.  This year, we will see you on Zoom.  Be sure to attend an orientation as the session will answer many a question.  Also happening soon will be a Zoom meeting with your child’s educational team.  Please stay on the lookout for emails telling you when and where these important communications will take place.

School for children will start at 8:40am every day and end at 2:10pm.  Some of you may be wondering about after school.  As of now, there is no after school program as the building will close at 3:00 every day for a deep cleaning.  If this changes, we will let you know.  If this is a major problem or concern, let us know by emailing anna@bns146.org as we are discussing ways to offer child care in the playground across the street.

Keep in mind that we have a very informative website: www.bns146.org.   Add it to your favorites and check it periodically to keep up with school news.  On our website, you’ll find some important guidelines, like our cell phone policy and DOE social media policy, for example.

Be on the lookout for paper work requests from the DOE and please respond in a timely manner.

You are also responsible for:

Keep these cards updated if your contact information changes during the year. Blue cards are kept in the Main Office and the nurse’s office, room 105.

One form must be filled out for every child every year whether or not your family qualifies for low income status (previously known as free or reduced price lunch) and whether or not your child eats school lunch. This is mandated by the federal government, and the form must be completed immediately. 

  • Bus information will be sent home once we have it.  

NYCDOE Policies and Guidelines

Public schools have many sets of guidelines and policies that relate to many aspects of our lives at school.  Here are links to some of those documents:

Contacting Educators

All of our educators have a school email account.  You can contact them by emailing      them @bns146.org.  For most staff you just need to use the first name.  For example, my email address is anna@bns146.org  On the other hand, our parent coordinator, Amy Sumner’s email address is amysumner@bns146.org  – this is because there’s more than one Amy here at the Brooklyn New School! Your educators will let you know their emails.

Please join Konstella, our parent communication platform, by going to konstella.com. On the upper right corner, look for the ‘Find Your School’ button. Search for Brooklyn New School.  Choose ‘new xx grade families’ if you’re new, or add yourself to last year’s class for now.  Once this year’s groupings are ready to go, we’ll migrate everyone.

Congratulations!  You’ve come to the end of the first of many long communications from BNS this school year.  We know that working together, we are making history!  

 

See you soon,

Anna

 

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