Spring Updates

Dear EVCS Families,

Welcome back – I hope everyone had a lovely and relaxing week. Here are a few important updates:

The DOE has updated the daily health screening to be aligned with New York State and CDC guidelines. The questions about experiencing symptoms of COVID and close contact with an individual who has tested positive remain effectively the same, but as of today individuals who have traveled domestically are no longer required to quarantine or be tested upon their return. People who have traveled internationally however, are still required to quarantine. Please make sure that you read the health screening questions carefully and answer them honestly every day your child attends school in-person. If you have any questions about how to access or fill out the screening, please let me know. https://healthscreening.schools.nyc/

The window to change your child’s learning preference from fully remote to blended learning has been extended to this Friday April 9. You can access the Learning Preference Survey here. Please note that in order for your child to return to in-person learning, you must submit a consent form for in-school COVID-19 testing.

Just before the break the Mayor and Chancellor announced an upcoming shift in the DOE’s policy for reduced classroom capacity and physical distancing. We still do not know when this new policy will take effect and are awaiting guidance on other key concerns such as how we will arrange student lunch on days when we need to eat indoors, but when it does take effect we will be able to fit more students in our classrooms and hopefully increase the amount of time our blended learning students have in-person. The mayor also announced today that the city will be updating the policy that determines when entire school buildings close, to be a less sensitive trigger. As I learn more about each of these developments I will keep everyone informed.

The State Education Department is moving forward with plans to administer the standardized tests in ELA and math to students in grades 3-5 this spring. This year the tests will be shortened to just one day each, all multiple choice questions. Students will only be permitted to take the assessments if they are in the school building – the tests will not be administered remotely. The testing windows are April 19 – April 29 for ELA and May 3 – May 14 for math. Once we have more specific dates during those windows, we will let you know. Our fully remote students will default to opting out of taking the tests. Families of Cohort D students who are interested in having their child come into the building to take the tests can opt in by completing this form. Our blended learning students will default to opting in to take the tests. If you wish to opt your child out please email Liz: liz@evcs.me. If you are on the fence and would like to discuss or have any questions about the state tests please let me know.

Finally, If you have a child born in 2017 who will be eligible for Pre-K next year, please note that the window to apply is open now, and the deadline has been extended to April 19.

Thanks very much for making it to the bottom of this email! Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the above.

Yours,

Bradley

Important: Updates to Blended Learning

Dear EVCS Families,

On Friday afternoon the Mayor announced a significant policy shift for New York City public schools. Please read a message from the Chancellor of Schools about these new policies. Here are the main headlines:

There will be another official enrollment period this spring to sign up for blended learning. The window for fully remote students to opt in to blended learning will open this Wednesday March 24 and will close on Wednesday April 7. You can opt in to blended learning at this link.
The DOE will adopt the newest CDC guidelines for social distancing in classrooms which recommends that students remain just 3 feet apart, as opposed to 6 feet.

The second point will obviously have major implications for how we are set up, because we will now be able to accommodate more students in each classroom. Exactly how many students we can safely have in each room is not yet clear – we should have the updated classroom capacity numbers later this week. Once we know what our new classroom capacities are, and we know how many new students will be opting in to blended learning after April 7, we can figure out what our new configurations and schedules will be. Though our classrooms will be setup differently and children will be in closer proximity, all of the other health and safety measures, including wearing of masks, ventilation and air purifiers, use of the daily health screening and weekly random COVID testing will remain in place. All new students opting in to blended learning will be required to submit consent to weekly testing in school before attending.

This has been a turbulent and challenging year for all of us, but I am proud of the ways our school community has risen to the occasion and I am extremely confident that we will be able to fold in these new policies while keeping each other safe and keeping our focus on student learning. When we first formed a committee to develop a plan for blended and remote learning this summer one of the main priorities we set – right below the safety of our students, staff and families – was to maximize opportunities for in-person learning for all students who are able to learn in-person, while ensuring inclusive, high value learning experiences for students who are learning remotely. We have remained committed to that priority all year long and will continue to do so under this new set of policies as well.

As I get more information about how this shift will impact our day-to-day I will certainly keep you posted. In the meantime please consider whether you wish to change your child’s learning preference for the rest of the school year, and let me know if you have any questions or want to chat about any of this. Thanks so much for your patience, cooperation and understanding.

As ever,

Bradley

EVCS Weekly, Friday, Feb 26

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Dear EVCS Families,

It was great to be back to a school schedule this week! There’s a lot happening next week, including Parent Teacher Conferences, so check out the calendar below!

And you may have already heard the news, but the NYC DOE Chancellor, Richard Carranza, is stepping down next month. You can read his letter to families HERE.

Let’s see what is coming up at EVCS next week!

***

Next Week

Gates open for K-5 students at 8:20 a.m. & for PreK students at 8:45 a.m.

Parent-Teacher Conference Week – What to expect and how to prepare

Monday, March 1
Cohort A

Topic: EVCS Fundraising Meeting
Time: Mar 1, 2021 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85308010098
Meeting ID: 853 0801 0098
Look out for a reminder email from the Parent Association!

Tuesday, March 2
Cohort A

Wednesday, March 3
Cohort B

Cohort D: Leveled Lending Library 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
All fully-remote students encouraged to pick up books each and every week!
In front of the schoolyard (on the sidewalk).

Thursday, March 4
Cohort A, Half-day (Dismissal at 11:00 a.m.)

Friday, March 5
Cohort B

PA Bookswap 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. in Joseph C. Sauer Park!

***

Continue reading

Midwinter Recess

Dear EVCS Families,

This afternoon you should have received your child’s midyear report, emailed to you directly by their teacher. These reports provide a comprehensive overview of your child’s progress and performance so far this school year in all subject areas. Our kids have worked hard this year and made real progress, despite significant challenges. I hope you find these reports helpful and affirming, and that they provide a good starting point for the conversations that we will have at our upcoming parent teacher conferences, where we will set goals and chart a course for the second half of the year.

I hope everyone has a restful and lovely break this next week. I know that many of us may have less planned for this week than we ordinarily might, so if the kids start to get a little stir crazy and you’re looking for some wholesome content to keep them entertained, please invite them to check out my archive of the read alouds I did last spring, as well as last year’s remote School-Wide Morning Meetings. You can find it all in my Google Classroom. And in case you missed it, here’s the most recent School-Wide Morning Meeting. I would love for our next SWMM to have more contributions from students and their families! If you’re interested in putting something together you can find the lyrics and chords to most of the songs in our repertoire in the EVCS SWMM Songbook. You can submit videos to me directly by email.

Happy Lunar New Year to all! Here’s to better days ahead in the Year of the Ox. Have a wonderful and safe week.

Yours,
Bradley

Black Lives Matter at EVCS

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Dear EVCS Families,

I am proud to let you know that next week EVCS will once again join thousands of other schools across the country in recognizing the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. The universal goals of the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action is to spark an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversations in school communities for people of all ages to engage with issues of social justice. The content and level at which our students will be engaged in the Black Lives Matter Week of Action at EVCS will of course vary depending on the grade level, but we have planned certain anchor experiences that all of our students will participate in. As the centerpiece of the week we have selected three books that align with the Black Lives Matter at Schools guiding principles to be read aloud in all of our classrooms on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They are: Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice by Nikki Grimes, and Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights by Rob Sanders. On Monday and Friday our teachers will lead lessons that teach into and synthesize the big ideas of the week, and we will have a special pre-recorded School-Wide Morning Meeting to be shared during the week (day TBD).

Conversations about race are not always comfortable, but they are essential and necessary to have if we are serious about raising our students to be a generation of anti-racist people – and this work has never felt more relevant and important than it does right now. We expect that our students will have a range of responses to the activities we have planned, from piqued curiosity, to outrage or sadness, to empowerment and affirmation. Our teachers will of course be sensitive and responsive to all of the ways our students may react. Our core values are kindness, inclusion, social action, self awareness and joy of learning, and we will be putting those core values front and center, loud and proud next week. Thank you for your trust and support!

Stay warm and stay safe everyone.

Love,

Bradley

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. 😉

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