Here we are, at the end of our first week of the 2021-2022 school year. In this, our first weekly letter, we reflect on a long tradition of BNS weekly letters, penned by Anna Allanbrook, longtime BNS principal. We think back to the days of handwritten, photocopied weekly letters, and a school community of 100 students, strong and connected. Today, with more than 100 staff members, nearly 700 students, and so many families interconnected, we bring the BNS legacy into the future.
The weekly letter serves as a check-in: highlighting important moments, joyful and moving; sharing upcoming events; reflecting on education in our school, our city, our world; and sharing updates to keep us all safe. Today, we hope to do a little of each of those.
We have some important notes about safety that we would like to share. We encourage all families to continue getting COVID tested often, to stay informed and keep our whole community as safe as possible. Today, we had our first random testing day of the year. Every other week, 10% of our students in grades 1-5 will be tested. That’s about 55 tests, every two weeks. You can help us all stay safe by increasing that number: Get tested on your own, outside of school. If you want to have a test done at your home, you can go here. You can also text “COVID TEST” to 855-48 to find free testing sites near you.
We want to underscore the importance of the daily health screener (healthscreening.schools.nyc) – please read each question carefully every day and answer honestly. Children must have a negative COVID test and be symptom-free (without the use of fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours after experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. Children should not be sent to school the day after having a fever, if fever suppressants were used to keep it away. Please help us all stay safe by following this important guidance.
Next, we share some highlights from the first few days. We welcomed 150 of our littlest BNSers to 610 Henry Street through our phase-in program for shorter school days and we look forward to their first full day on Monday, 9/20. We welcomed back so many of our older students, into full classes, while holding onto what we learned from our crew structure last year. We saw teachers working with classes outside in small groups, playing get-to-know-you games on Rapelye Street and in our big yard. We saw children greeting the chickens in the farm, marveling at the vegetables awaiting a final fall harvest, and noticing the new sink setup in the mud kitchen. And, we saw lots of classes practicing those important routines: learning each other’s names, finding out where folders, notebooks, and other items will live in their rooms, sanitizing hands on the way in and out, and so many more. We look forward to all of the possibility that this year holds, after so much tumult in the last 18 months. We saw joy in the gift of being together. And we saw adjustment, after being apart for so long. Together with our caring staff of many, we will ease back into learning in school.
We know, too, how much important learning happens in your homes. Here at the onset of Hispanic Heritage Month, we harken back to an inspiring piece shared in our PTA Weekly Newsletter (another important weekly communication!) last April.
“Talking About Race with the Marañas
This Sesame Street video features BNS 3rd grade teacher Sally Maraña and her family, including BNS students Krystalyn and CJ. In this video, the Marañas have an honest talk about skin color, culture, and pride. Watch it first, then share it with your children to help start conversations about race and skin color in your own family. Hearing other families have honest, age-appropriate conversations can inspire new ideas for talking about these topics at home. Thank you to Sally for modeling how to have challenging conversations with our kids. We value your voice and leadership in our school community!”
BNS is a tapestry of rich stories, collaboration, caretaking and community work. As this school year unfolds, we hope that our weekly letters serve as a vehicle to bring our families into some of the work happening within our walls and beyond. We look forward to writing to you over this course of this very unique and exciting year.
Diane & Malika
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