January Updates

Dear EVCS Families,

If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, please take a moment to fill out our survey on remote learning at EVCS. We are planning professional learning for all of our staff to further develop our remote teaching practices together, so it is important for us to hear from you about how things are going, what is working well for your child and what needs to be improved. There are separate pathways in the survey for blended learning students and fully remote students, and though it’s an anonymous survey we ask that you identify your child’s grade level so we can understand the survey data as it relates to each group of students and their unique experiences. If you have more than one student at EVCS please fill out a survey for each of them separately, but please fill out only one survey for each student in the family. Thanks so much for your feedback and support. The survey will close on Friday afternoon.

A note about the daily emails from the Situation Room – These emails are automatically generated and scheduled to go out every day to all parents who have signed up for a MyStudent account whenever there is a confirmed case within our community. I know that the emails are confusing and redundant. Please know that whenever there is a confirmed case and/or a classroom or building closure I will also email directly to all families to explain in direct terms what is happening and what to expect, and if anything is ever unclear or confusing you can contact me any time for more information. Thanks for your patience and understanding!

Cohort D families – tomorrow is Wednesday, which means the lending library will be open from 11:30 – 1:00. Come get leveled books for your kids to read independently, or books to read together. We will also have extra materials to refresh your child’s supply kit, including crayons, markers, pencils, notebooks, etc. If your schedule allows please bring your kids with you. It’s so great to see our Cohort D students who we miss so much, and I think it’s helpful for them to get to visit school, albeit briefly and outside. We’ll be set up outside on the sidewalk in front of the schoolyard gate.

An update on classroom air quality and climate control – We received the air purifiers we requested from the DOE, so every classroom now as at least one air purifier in it! This is great news as it now allows us to open the windows slightly less-wide and still have more than adequate ventilation and good quality air in the classrooms. And our wonderful Parents Association purchased oil-filled space heaters for every classroom at EVCS, so that will be a big help in making our rooms a more comfortable temperature for our students and staff to work in each day. It’s still a good idea to send your child in with layers, but we’re making progress. Thanks to the PA for that generous donation.

I hope everyone is staying healthy and sane. Hang in there folks!

Yours,
Bradley

Tuesday, January 6th Events

Dear EVCS Families,

I know many of you, like me, watched the footage of yesterday’s violent mob in our nation’s capitol in a state of shock and horror. Even considering all the ways in which our democratic ideals, values and institutions have been threatened and compromised over the last four years, this was truly a new low for our country. Most disturbing for me, like so many other people I know, was to witness the contrast in the way the police and law enforcement responded to and treated these violent insurrectionists and rioters as compared to peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer, and innocent, unarmed BIPOC every single day. I know that many of our students also witnessed these terrible scenes, and whether they are expressing it outwardly or not, they may be confused, scared and deeply upset by what they saw.

Whenever we experience some horrific or traumatic event in our society our school response has always been to think about how we might leverage this as a teachable moment for our students, but more importantly we recognize the need for all of our teachers and staff to be extremely sensitive to the fears, concerns and questions our students may bring to the classroom. Our most basic role as elementary school educators is to help our students make sense of the world – and yesterday’s events challenged most of the mental models we have for what makes sense in our society. I know that many of our students are going to come to school with questions, confusion, frustration and outrage in the coming days – in large part because of the blatant reminder that was on display yesterday, that we live in a country where people are treated profoundly differently – with the greatest of consequences – in large part because of their race and ethnicity. I am still processing what happened yesterday, and have not yet moved beyond my initial reaction of shock and sadness. But while we make sense of these events for ourselves, the teachers, staff and I will also make sure that we are there for our students. If they ask a question, make a comment, or open the door for processing together what happened in our capitol yesterday we will be responsive to them and allow space for this meaning making in our classrooms, and we will be extra sensitive and attuned to our students’ feelings and emotional wellness. Please reach out if your child seems distressed and you would like additional support. We’re here for you, too.

Our core values are kindness, inclusion, social action, self-awareness and joy of learning. They are always at or just below the surface of everything we do at EVCS, and right now is a great time to hold fast to them and remember what we are all about so we can rise up, learn from and move past this terrible moment in our country’s history together.

As ever,

Bradley

Welcome Back

Dear EVCS Families,

I hope you had a restful and joyous holiday, and that your new year is starting out in good health. I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and want to remind everyone that school begins again tomorrow for remote and blended learning. Tomorrow will be an A day for in-person learning.

Please note that although the New York State guidelines for quarantining after travel or exposure to an individual who has tested positive were recently updated to be consistent with CDC guidelines, the NYCDOE guidelines currently remain as they were before the break. In short:

Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for 10 days.
Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days.
Anyone who has travelled internationally, or to a state other than New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, or Vermont must either quarantine for 14 days, OR have a negative COVID test within 72 hours PRIOR to arrival in New York, quarantined for at least three days upon arrival in New York, and took a second COVID test on the 4th day AFTER arrival.

Families of students coming in person must fill out the health screener before entering the building every single day, certifying that all of the criteria for safely attending in-person are met. We will be taking absolutely every precaution in the building and will remain hypervigilant in following our safety protocols, but we need your cooperation to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Many thanks,

Bradley

Season’s Greetings

Dear EVCS Families,

This morning we shared the latest School-Wide Morning Meeting with our students, including a beautiful presentation of the song Peace, which Terry stitched together and synched up from dozens of individual contributions (thank you Terry!). I’ve really missed our IRL (in the parlance of our tweens) School-Wide Morning Meetings and I really missed gathering in the auditorium for our annual Festival of Lights winter celebration this year. These pre-recorded videos may not be a substitute for the real thing, but hopefully they can provide some of that SWMM/FOL feeling until we can all be together again. If your child missed it this morning, or if you would like to watch it with your kids, you can find it here.

I sincerely hope that all of our families have a wonderful and safe holiday, and that you find time to relax, restore and enjoy. Here’s to a new year and a renewed sense of hope!

Yours,

Bradley

Staying Safe

Dear EVCS Blended Learning Families,

We are so pleased to have our kids back in the building for in-person learning – and we really hope to keep it going without interruption for the foreseeable future. Given the slow but steady rise in test positivity rate in New York City we are doubling down on all of the safety measures we have in place at the school, and we are asking for your partnership in order to keep each other safe and keep our school building open.

One of the most important things we ask that you do every day is to fill out the daily health screening for your child. The screening consists of four questions:

Have you experienced symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever of 100.0 degrees F or greater, a new cough, new loss of taste or smell or shortness of breath within the past 10 days?
In the past 10 days, have you gotten a positive result from a COVID-19 test?
In the past 14 days, have you been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19?
Have you traveled to a state other than New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, or Vermont, OR internationally in the last 14 days?

We recommend you add this link to your home screen on your phone to make it simple to access in the morning. I know it becomes tedious to fill out the screening every day and our tendency is to rush through and habitually answer “no” to all of the questions, but please consider all of these questions carefully and thoughtfully each and every day. Our practice has been to take every child’s temperature before entering the building, but as the weather has gotten colder we are noticing that our contactless thermometers are becoming increasingly unreliable, so please check your child’s temperature and be extra vigilant in looking out for any potential symptoms before sending your child to school in the morning.

Last month we arranged our schedules to allow for every class to eat lunch outside every day, either in the schoolyard or in the Tree of Knowing Garden. Since lunch is the one time of the day when all of our students need to take their masks off, we want to make sure that we are doing this in the safest possible way, and outside is just safer than inside. Al fresco dining has been going great, but it’s getting cold out there, so please make sure to bundle your child up!

One more cold weather related item. Good ventilation is an essential part of our school-wide plan for keeping our students and staff safe, and so it is necessary to keep windows open throughout the day. This sometimes means that our classrooms can get a bit chilly, especially on the lower floors. We are working with our custodians to keep the heat pumping through the radiators all day long, and we have requested air purifiers for every classroom so we can open the windows slightly-less-wide. But please send your child in with layers, which you may consider leaving in the classroom for when they need it. I myself have adopted a Mister Rogers routine of throwing on a cardigan when I arrive at my office in the morning. šŸ˜‰

Finally, as you know, all schools now have random COVID testing every week, and each time the testing staff comes we will test approximately 20 % of our students. All blended learning students are required to have signed consent from their parents to be tested – and if you previously gave consent the DOE is asking that you update your consent form to reflect the more frequent testing. We had testing in our school yesterday morning, and the parents all of the students who were tested have already been notified and should be receiving the lab results within the next day.

Thanks so much for trusting us with your children’s safety – we consider it the absolute most important thing – and than you for your partnership in keeping everyone in our community safe.

Yours,
Bradley

Reopening Schools Redux

Dear EVCS Families,

The Mayor and Chancellor announced on Sunday that elementary schools across the city will resume in-person learning on December 7. Since schools first opened in September we have demonstrated that we can offer in-person learning safely and responsibly, and we know that many of our students really depend on coming into school for blended learning, so this policy shift comes as welcome news (whiplash notwithstanding). We are ready and looking forward to opening our doors again on Monday morning.

The Mayor’s announcement included some confusing messages however, about “phasing out blended learning” and students coming in for in-person learning 5 days a week. Given that schools must continue to maintain social distancing requirements in classrooms, many schools – including EVCS – will not be able to phase out blended learning due to the number of students enrolled in blended learning and limitations on space and staffing. Therefore, on Monday we will continue blended learning in our 2-cohort model. We will also be creating opportunities for a very limited number of students on each grade level to come in for in-person learning more frequently. These opportunities will be offered individually according to need, based on a range of criteria.

As an additional safeguard to keep our schools safe the DOE will be ramping up the COVID testing program in schools. Consent for COVID testing will be mandatory for all students and staff coming into school buildings, and a randomly selected group of students in grades 1-5 and staff from each building will now be tested each week.

Additionally, the DOE has updated it’s policy on travel outside of the city to be in line with New York State policies. Students and staff who have recently traveled outside of New York to a place on the Stateā€™s travel advisory list must quarantine for 14 days or test out of the 14-day quarantine based on the Stateā€™s guidance, which can be found here. Staff and students should continue to complete the health questionnaire daily.

Monday December 7 is a B Day, in case you were wondering, and here is the blended learning calendar for January – June.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. I hope you and your families remain in good health and good spirits.

As ever,
Bradley

IMPORTANT: School Buildings Temporarily Closed

Dear EVCS Families,

By now you may have heard that the Mayor and Chancellor announced that all school buildings will be temporarily closed for in-person learning. Beginning tomorrow November 19, and until further notice, all students in New York City public schools will learn remotely. You can read the Chancellor’s letter to families here.

EVCS students should log on to Google Classroom in the morning to access their agendas for the day, as they would on any remote learning day. We know that even though we all saw this coming it still feels disruptive and many of our students who have been coming in to the building for blended learning may feel really upset at this change in plans. All of our teachers and staff will be extra sensitive and vigilant in the coming days to make sure that our students feel taken care of and that there is minimal interruption to their academic and social emotional learning. We will be in touch soon with more details about our plans for this time.

Thanks for your understanding and support.

Yours,

Bradley

School-Wide Morning Meeting

Dear EVCS Families,

Today we shared our first School-Wide Morning Meeting of this school year. Of course nothing compares to gathering in the auditorium and singing loud and proud together, and hopefully we will be able to do that again one day soon. In the meantime, we will put together and share a SWMM video roughly every other week that will feature different classes and community members. This week’s SWMM features our A and B cohort 3rd graders playing ukulele and singing and also includes cameos from some of our 2nd graders. I hope creating and watching these videos will help us to feel connected to our community and that it can be a way for all of us to be together in spirit.

Our School-Wide Morning Meeting House Band will continue to kick out the jams, but we’d like to include a range of our community members in these videos as well. Please consider creating a video of your family performing one of our SWMM songs and send it to me so I can share it in a future presentation. And if you’d like to listen to iconic versions of some of the songs in our SWMM repertoire, I’ve put together this playlist.

Let it shine,

Bradley

Final reminder: changing learning preferences

Dear EVCS Families,

Please be reminded that today is the last day to change your child’s learning preference from fully remote to blended learning. You can do that here.

The first day of the new cycle will be on November 30. However, we are keeping a close eye on the slow but steady increase in the COVID test positivity rate in New York City and are aware that the DOE may take the entire school system remote at any time. If this should happen before our planed switch over to the new cohorts on November 30 we will hold off on regrouping students until we can provide in-person learning again. In other words, if we all go fully remote before November 30 students will continue to work with the primary teachers and groups they have been in, even if you indicated a change in their learning preference, and we would launch the new cycle when we are clear for in-person learning again. Fingers crossed that we can continue to safely work with students in person and proceed as planned for November 30!

If now is not the right time for your family to switch from fully remote to blended but you may be interested in doing that down the road, we will do everything we can to accommodate families on an individual basis throughout the year, as long as there is space. And if your child is currently enrolled in blended learning you can of course switch to fully remote learning at any time this year. If you are not changing your child’s learning preference you do not need to fill out this survey.

Please reach out to me directly if you have any questions or would like to discuss your own family’s situation. Thanks again for your understanding and support.

Yours,

Bradley

Reminder: Changing Learning Preferences

Dear EVCS families,

I hope your parent-teacher conferences over the last week have been meaningful and informative. If you have not had a chance to meet with your child’s teacher for a conference yet, please contact the teachers directly to schedule one. While the parent-teacher conferences are an essential opportunity to talk with your child’s teachers about their strengths, progress next steps and goals, it is certainly not the only one. All of our teachers have open office hours to talk or email with parents every day from 2:00 – 2:20. Parents are our most important partners in our students’ learning, this year especially, and communication is key to having a strong partnership.

Please be reminded that the window to change your child’s learning preference from fully remote to blended learning closes this Sunday November 15. According to the latest guidance form the DOE this will be the last official enrollment period for families to opt in to blended learning this school year. However, please note that if your child remains in remote learning now and you decide to change their learning preference later this year, we will do everything we can to accommodate your requests on an individual basis as long as there is space. If you are not switching your child’s learning preference there is no need to fill out the survey.

The new cycle for blended and remote learning will begin on Monday November 30. If you have changed your child’s learning preference you will be notified of their new schedules, teachers and groups before our curriculum share events on November 24. For students not changing their learning preferences, we will make a great effort to keep the schedules and groups consistent. More on the curriculum share coming soon, but please mark your calendars for November 24 from 2:20 to 3:00.

Enjoy the balmy November weather and the day off today!

Yours,

Bradley