School Reopening – Latest Updates

Dear EVCS Families,

By now you’ve surely heard the very good news. The Mayor and Chancellor listened to the messages of so many educators, parents, students, elected officials and concerned citizens, and have agreed to push the start date for students back in order to give schools necessary time to prepare for our most complicated reopening ever. The first day of school for all of our students – those learning fully remotely as well as in-person – will now be Monday September 21. This delayed opening allows our teachers and staff 6 full days for training in new health and safety protocols, professional learning in trauma-informed practices, priority learning standards and new remote learning technologies, and time to collaborate and coordinate with grade team colleagues to develop plans for remote and in-person teaching and learning. We will also have 3 days from September 16-18 for student and family orientation, and for students to test out equipment and software for remote learning. This extra time to prepare will enable us to get everything lined up so we can hit the ground running on September 21.

We know that having as much information as possible about our plans for safety and instruction is essential to our families, which is why we have been holding biweekly town halls all summer and have been sharing resources and updates as they have come out. We want to make sure that our families have easy access to all of this information in one place, so we are putting together an updated family handbook which will be ready for distribution before the first day of school. In the meantime, here are a few important updates since our last meeting:

We have received shipments of PPE, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, special cleaning supplies including an electrostatic sprayer, decals for the floor and signs for walls to promote social distancing and traffic flow, plexiglass barriers for our school safety desk and main office, and various other sundries to support health and safety in our building. Our school custodian is expecting to maintain a 30-day supply of these materials and resources on hand.
We have received contactless thermometers and have developed an arrival protocol that will involve every student and adult having their temperature taken before entering the building every day. This is above and beyond the DOE’s standard protocol, but we understand that this is an important measure for many of our families to feel safe.
We have applied to the city for access to multiple locations around the neighborhood for outdoor learning, including parks, community gardens as well as possible street closures. We are still waiting for official approval on the sites we applied for, but we are committed to maximizing time outdoors for our students, knowing that this is the lowest risk scenario for everyone.
We have been clearing space in our Tree of Knowing Garden to create more opportunities for students to use this area for eating lunch and outdoor learning. (Thank you James!)
The DOE has announced that every month there will be mandatory COVID testing in schools, comprised of a random sample of 10-20% of a school’s student and staff population. Testing will be done on-site and will of course be free of charge.
While many schools are concerned about issues related to ventilation, I’m pleased to share that our classrooms are well ventilated with large windows that will remain open every day, and we are purchasing large box fans to further help with the air flow.

At the last two PA meetings a number of questions have surfaced in the chat, some of which went unanswered, either because we didn’t have the information yet or we ran out of time to address. Our schools Reentry Planning Committee has kept track of those questions and put them together into this document, along with the latest guidance and policies. We will continue to update this Q&A document with new questions and answers as we receive them.

Much more information is coming shortly about your child’s teachers, their schedules, login information for Google Classroom, and details for the orientation days. Stay tuned.

Though we have experienced a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity this summer as we have planned for reopening schools, I feel as though we are now finallyon terra firma. We have a start date, we have the supplies and protocols to keep folks safe, and we have the time for our staff to get ready. Sure, it’s bound to be a weird and challenging year, but I have tremendous confidence in our amazing and talented staff and our incredible families to rise to the challenges of this moment and make it work, together. We got this!

Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend. I will see you very soon.

As ever,

Open Letter on Schools Reopening

Dear EVCS Families,

On Friday afternoon Liz and I, in solidarity with other District 1 school leaders, signed an open letter to the Mayor, Governor, and Chancellor, urging them to delay the start of in-person school for students this fall. The concerns outlined in the letter, which can be read here, echo those of school leaders across the city, the principals and teachers unions, City Council members, New York City’s Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and countless others. To be honest, it was a difficult letter to sign because we are used to facing adversity, doing difficult work and making lemonade out of lemons. Saying “this is too much” is just not in our repertoire. But the reopening of the largest school system in the country is too important, the stakes too high, for us to not get it right for all of our schools. And most importantly, we must be able to guarantee the safety of our students, staff and families.

Since schools closed on March 16th we have worked tirelessly with our teachers and staff to create the best possible learning experience for our students while prioritizing the health and safety of everyone in our community. Throughout the summer we have been working nonstop to plan the incredibly complicated logistics for reopening with a blended learning model, often with very limited or very late information and guidance on critical questions regarding instructional models, special education compliance, and labor policy. We’ve been forging ahead with our plan making, trusting that guidance will be forthcoming, but the fact is that with just a couple of weeks before the start of the school year there are still many unanswered questions, shortages of in-person staff at schools throughout the city due to medical accommodations, and promised supplies and PPE still not yet delivered to schools. Perhaps most importantly we are not being allowed the necessary time to train our staff on all of the many critical health and safety protocols and instructional practices for blended learning. We will need time – beyond the two days the city has allowed, between when teachers return from their well-earned summer vacations on September 8 and students are slated to return to buildings on September 10, to work with our teachers to plan what high quality teaching and learning will look like in this brand-new context. Believe me, we want nothing more than to be back in school buildings with our children and families, as soon as possible. But we feel that it is essential that schools be completely and totally prepared for this transition, and until adequate safety precautions and appropriate training can be put in place for all schools, in-person learning should be delayed.

In some ways the challenges we face now are no different than those we face each year. We could always use more time to train, to plan, to make our school building better and safer for students, families, and teachers. Every school year we have questions that go unanswered by the Chancellor, the Mayor, and the Governor. But we all know this year is different. The stakes are so much higher that we felt it necessary to add our voices to the many others demanding answers and common-sense solutions from our leaders. One thing that remains the same this year as it does every year is that no matter the response we receive from this letter, or what the city’s timeline for reopening ends up being, the EVCS staff will do absolutely everything in our power to make this school year the best, and the safest it can be for our students and families. If you chose blended learning for your children, please know that we will be there for them, smiling at them from behind our masks, ready to create a rigorous and joyful learning experience, no matter when the first day of school happens to be.

With love and gratitude,

Bradley and Liz

Mid-August Updates

Dear EVCS Families,

I want to thank everyone who attended our PA town hall meeting on Wednesday evening, and say thanks to everyone who has shown up, asked (so many) good questions and been so engaged throughout the summer as we have planned the complicated logistics for reopening school this fall. Your engagement and collaboration is essential always, but especially now. I know that many folks were not able to join on Wednesday so I’ll share an overview of the big ticket announcements and resources here.

Our school’s re-entry planning team, made up of teachers, staff and parents, has been meeting weekly and has drafted a framework for how blended learning will work at EVCS. Our plan takes into account all of the latest protocols and guidance from the Department of Education and from public health officials, it centers our school’s core values of Kindness, Inclusion, Social Action, Self-Awareness and Joy of Learning, and most importantly, it prioritizes the health and safety of our students, staff and families above all else. You can read through the key features of our plan here, from the slides I shared on Wednesday. And more detailed information about health and safety protocols that will be in place for all schools is available on the DOE website.

Our school’s instructional model this fall will ensure that all students, whether they are learning in school or at home, will be actively engaged in instruction five days a week. All students who are able to learn in-person will come in to school one-third of the days and learn at home remotely on the other days. Students opting for in-person instruction will be assigned to small groups or “pods” of roughly 9 students that will remain consistent throughout our time in blended learning. All students, whether they are participating in blended learning or not, will have the benefit of working directly with all three teachers on their grade level, but when students come in for in-person learning they will always work with one specific teacher. We are working on forming groups and schedules and will share information with families regarding which days of the week children will be learning in school and who their “homeroom” teacher will be before the end of next week so you can coordinate your plans.

All of our students, whether they are participating in fully remote or blended learning, will spend the majority of time learning remotely so we are planning for the online features and platforms to be the backbone of our instructional plans and for there to be continuity and coherence on the grade level, so that the content, rigor and quality of teaching and learning is consistent for all students. Remote learning this year will include synchronous and asynchronous instruction every day, and all students will start each day with a live morning meeting and end each day with a live closing circle. We will have consistent, regular weekly schedules for synchronous remote instruction so families can plan accordingly. It’s very important to us that our students who will not be learning in the school building this year continue to feel connected to their classmates, teachers and school community, and we have prioritized this in our plans.

We know that these last several months have taken a toll on many of our students academically and emotionally, and we will of course be planning to address our students’ needs, whatever they may be. Responsive and differentiated instruction has always been at the heart of what we do at EVCS, and there has never been a time when this approach has been more important than now. We also recognize that some of our students will need more intensive supports and may benefit from more frequent in-person learning sessions. We have built in some flexibility to our three-cohort programming model to allow for a small group of students on each grade level to attend school in-person more than one-third of the days, or with more than one pod of students. Our planing team will be developing criteria for how we will prioritize student needs to make this opportunity available to students, and we will be reaching out to families on an individual and rolling basis to discuss. If you feel that your child needs or would greatly benefit from more frequent in-person instruction I invite you to reach out to me directly to discuss. Equity means that everyone gets what they need, and this is essential to our approach at EVCS.

I know many are wondering exactly what day we are starting and what our school schedule will be. The DOE has not confirmed the official start date or released the school year calendar yet, but the first day of school for students is tentatively scheduled for September 10. It’s possible that the city will respond to calls for pushing the start date for in-person instruction back a couple of weeks to allow schools more time to prepare for that. We will make sure to keep everyone posted once we know for certain. Our school day for students will start at 8:30 for in-person and remote instruction, and will end each day between 1:45 and 2:00 to allow for a staggered dismissal. Please note that the school day ends earlier this year because student lunch will overlap with instructional periods.

I know it’s a ton of information to process! Please reach out if you have any immediate questions or if you want to schedule a time to talk through some of these items. And there will be another opportunity to come together for a town hall style meeting in the last week of August, so please look out for an invite from the PA. I hope you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe and that you find joy and relaxation in these last weeks of summer. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.

As ever,


September planning updates

Dear EVCS Families,

I hope this message finds you all healthy, well and enjoying your summer. I am looking forward to seeing many of you tomorrow evening at 5:00 for our bi-weekly parent meeting to discuss the latest on our plans for re-opening schools in September. Here’s a little preview of what we will discuss.

Next Friday August 7th is the deadline to sign your child up for the 100% remote learning option. I know many parents have been wondering about what that will entail, who will teach the children opting for fully remote learning, and how they will stay connected to their classmates and our school community. Although questions still abound about exactly how we will make this work at EVCS, some of our questions were answered in a letter to families from the Chancellor yesterday. Most notable is this statement, “No matter whether you are at school in-person or you are learning remotely, you and your child are still enrolled in and part of your school community. Your child’s schedule and learning experience will be fully managed by your school. The vast majority of students who participate in fully remote learning will be taught by teachers from their school.” We can discuss in greater detail tomorrow.

We are expecting the majority of our students to participate in blended learningthis fall, spending part of their time learning remotely at home and part of their time learning in-person in the school building. We know that for most of our families the in-person time is essential and very highly valued, and we are doing our best to maximize that in-person learning time for all of our students. Because our school is in an overcrowded building our default programming is for a 3-cohort model, which would allow most of our students to learn in the building 1/3 of the time, or five days every three weeks, but we have also been considering some potential out-of-the-box ways to increase the amount of in-person learning time for all students participating in blended learning at an annex site. It’s a bit of a long shot, and depends upon many still unknown things lining up, but it’s definitely worth exploring. More on that tomorrow evening.

Remember, you can always catch up on all the latest information from the DOE on their website, Return to School 2020 page.

Thanks for your continued patience, understanding and collaboration.


Planning For September

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Dear EVCS Families,

I hope you are all enjoying the start to summer in good health! I have a few brief updates and a couple of reminders for you.

The other day the Chancellor and Mayor revealed a bit more detail on the city’s plans for blended learning in September, including a template for programming models that schools will be encouraged to use. There are many variables that need to be considered before determining which models will be an option for each school, namely our total enrollment, the number of students opting in to 100% remote learning, number of staff available for in-person and remote teaching and our actual building capacity and ability to social distance within classrooms. There’s still a lot to sort out, but we now have a more clear framework to plan around, which is progress.
Families will have the option for 100% remote learning if they are not comfortable sending their children back to school for in-person teaching and learning yet. There will be a window to register your children for that option, opening later this week and going through August 7. Please note that once families sign on to 100% remote learning they will only be able to opt back in to blended learning on a quarterly basis. Other questions remain about the 100% remoter learning option, including who teaches these students, if they are EVCS teachers or other teachers from a central pool, using a standardized curriculum. Hopefully we will have more clarity on these questions soon so families can make informed decisions.
You can always find the most up to date information and many more details on the DOE website, Return to School 2020 page.
The Department of Education is hosting an information session for families on school reopening this Thursday July 16 at 6:30. You can register to attend here.

I will be working throughout the summer with a team of EVCS teachers and staff as well as parent members of our School Leadership Team and Parent Association Executive Committee to develop our school’s plan for September. We will of course take into account all of the guidance from central DOE as well as parent and student feedback from our in-house surveys. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to complete the survey today. The survey will close by tomorrow morning. The student survey can be found here – and the parent survey can be found here.

Finally, I hope to see many of you at the Parent Association meeting tomorrow evening at 5:00, where we will talk through all of this information in greater detail and do our best to make sense of it together. There is no doubt that more great challenges lie ahead for us, and that our abilities to be adaptive and flexible will continue to be tested. But I also believe these challenges and inconveniences will be temporary and that we will get through them together and emerge as an even stronger and more resilient community.

As ever,


School Reopening Surveys

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Dear EVCS Families,

I hope you are all enjoying the start to our much anticipated and much neededsummer! As proud as I am of the way our school community rose to the challenges of this past spring, I think we all really need a break to rest, restore and recharge the old batteries.

I hope to do some serious chilling out of my own this summer – but I will also be busy planning to launch our school again in September. We still can’t predict exactly what September will bring, so I will be working throughout the summer with a team of teachers and staff, as well as parent representatives from the School Leadership Team, to envision and plan for various possible scenarios. At this point the most likely scenario seems to be a model of blended learning, which would allow for both in person and remote teaching and learning. Information and guidance from the Department of Education will be coming out regularly throughout the summer which we will of course be using to frame our planning, but I also think it is critical that we take into account the experiences, perspectives and unique situations of EVCS families. In that spirit, our SLT has developed two surveys for EVCS families – one for parents and one for students. Please take some time to let your voice be heard so we can learn from our experiences so far with remote learning and do whatever is possible to create an optimal situation that works for our families.

Though uncertainty is still the prevailing sentiment, a few of the many chips are starting to fall in place. One item that has become more clear which may be of great interest to some of our families, is that the DOE has committed to creating an option for students to continue with remote learning in the fall, regardless of the blended learning structures that exist in their school building. This option may be compelling for students who have compromised immune systems, who live with immunocompromised family members, or for families who are generally uncomfortable with the idea of returning to school buildings before a vaccine is available. Families who are interested in pursuing this option will need to sign up for it between July 15 and August 7. I will make sure we message out the instructions and all relevant links and resources for that option as they become available. And as things continue to develop and more is known about what is coming down the pike, I will do my best to share that with you.

As always, I appreciate the thoughtfulness, support and compassion of our great community. I really, truly can’t wait until we can be together again, but I also believe that we will get through these next challenges as we have the ones that came before. We’re in it together and we are going to be alright!

Take care, be healthy, have a terrific summer, and please don’t hesitate to reach out for anything at all.



Blended Learning

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Dear EVCS Families,

After what truly feels like the longest spring in history, we are finally at the finish line. Hobbled and totally exhausted, but we made it. We generally like to end every school year with all of the loose ends tied up, and with a sense of closure and excitement for what comes next. This year that last-week-of-June-feeling is more complicated, as we are heading into our summer break with a lot of uncertainty about what September will bring.

Last week at our PA meeting I shared the (limited) information that I had about the Chancellor’s suggestion that we would be moving towards a “blended learning” model in the fall. Of course, every piece of information that we have leads to many questions for which there are not currently answers, and no new information has been provided by the DOE since last week. Not knowing what to expect can feel frustrating and anxiety producing for all of us – and I want you to know that I am committed to full transparency and passing along any information I have to all of our families and staff, as soon as I have access to it. One thing is becoming clear – figuring out exactly how our school will roll out blended learning must be a collaborative effort, including all stakeholders at our school. In that spirit, below are some bullets summarizing the main points of what we discussed last week and there will be another PA meeting tomorrow evening at 5:30 to continue the discussion. Unfortunately there isn’t much in the way of new information to share tomorrow, but I’m sure there is still a lot of processing to do of the information we have.

Here’s what we know and are thinking about:

The Chancellor is suggesting that NYC public schools will likely shift to a blended learning model next fall, that will provide each student opportunities to learn at home through remote learning as well as in school with teachers.
Schools will be expected to schedule students and teachers on staggered schedules to allow for social distancing, according to CDC guidelines that require each individual to have 65 Sq ft. of space within the classroom. Based on the average NYC classroom size, this would allow for 9 students with 1 adult in each classroom at any time. System wide, New York City has the ability to work with 49% of our 1.1 million students in-person at any given time.
Every principal was provided with data specific to our schools that show building utilization and capacity numbers, given our projected enrollment next year. Our school’s capacity to work with students in our current space in our building is roughly 33% – well below the City and District average. In other words, many schools may be able to come up with an alternating schedule that would allow their students to learn in school with a teacher in a classroom half of the days, or even more frequently, but our students would most likely be able to come into school at most 1/3 of the days. It is well known by the District, CEC, and Central DOE that our building is overcrowded. Alleviating this overcrowding for our students has been a priority of the DOE for years, and has now taken on a new urgency. From what I understand, the DOE is considering a range of options to address this situation, even for just the short term, so that our students can have equitable access to live, in-person teaching and learning.
Exactly what sort of alternating schedule schools may adopt will likely vary, and could be alternating days, alternating weeks, or am/pm shifts. From what I understand now, schools will have the flexibility to put in place the model that is the most convenient (or, perhaps least inconvenient, if we’re being accurate) for our families and staff. We will be surveying families soon to better understand your needs and preferences.

So many questions abound. For example, how will we service our students with IEPs, who require an ICT setting? What about students who rely on paraprofessionals? What about lunch, recess, specials like art, music and PE? How will our teachers balance and manage both remote and in-person learning for all of their students? How do we maintain social distancing with our youngest students, for whom it is just very unnatural and difficult? Will there be school busses? Can we arrange for siblings to have similar schedules? What if they go to different schools? Bathrooms? Masks? The list goes on and on. It’s frustrating to not have answers at our fingertips to our many questions, but let’s ask the questions anyway.

I hope to see you tomorrow to continue the conversation, to commiserate, to hopefully begin to envision together how we might make lemonade out of these lemons, and of course to wish each other well as we start the summer. Looking forward to it. And if you can’t make it tomorrow, I’ll be in touch throughout the summer as new information comes out and as opportunities to engage in a process around this emerge.

As ever,


Upcoming safety drills

We will be running two different types of safety drills in our building over the next week and a half. We want you to be aware of what will happen so you can help answer questions or allay concerns your children might have. This Thursday afternoon (3/14) we will run a “Shelter-in” drill, and next Friday (3/22) we will run a “lockdown” drill.

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2011-2012 Progress Report

Dear families,

As many of you may have already heard, the Department of Education released the 2011-2012 Progress Reports last week, and EVCS scored a high ‘B’. While the Progress Report is not a perfect measurement tool and it certainly does not tell the whole story of teaching and learning at EVCS, it does illustrate some of our achievements and it is important to understand how the progress report scores are calculated.

85% of the progress report is based on student test scores from the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. 25% of the total score is based on student performance on the State math and ELA test, i.e. the numbers of students at “proficiency level”, while 60% of the total is based on individual student progress. Students are expected to make at least basic progress each year, and are compared to other students across the city who scored similarly the year before. The remaining 15% of the progress report score is based on the annual School Environment Survey, i.e. how parents and teachers report their experience at our school to be in terms of academic expectations, communication, engagement and safety.

Here are some of the take aways from our progress report his year:

  • Our kids performed really well on the ELA, such that we are in the 100th percentile for our peer group on ELA performance (!).
  • Our students made great progress on the math tests, such that we are in the 92nd percentile for our peer group and the 92nd percentile citywide for progress in math.
  • Our Special Ed populations are doing well and making progress. Almost half of our students with IEPs are in the 75th percentile citywide for growth in both math and ELA.
  • 91% of our fifth graders last year were at level 3 or 4 in math.
  • 96% of our 4th graders were at level 3 or 4 in science.
  • Only half of our third graders were at proficiency level in math and a little more than half in ELA – far below our 4th and 5th grade levels.
  • Our schoolwide attendance rate is still low. Our average attendance over the year is 93.6% , which puts us in the 23rd percentile for attendance in our peer group.

Obviously our school is so much greater than the sum analysis of our test scores and school survey data. But we are very proud that the hard work, dedication and talent of our students and teachers are reflected in this document.

If you have any questions about or would like to dig deeper into the progress report and our test scores, I will be at the next general Parents Association meeting on October 17th at 6:00 to discuss it in greater detail. I hope to see many of you there.


Bradley Goodman
Assistant Principal