UAI Staff News
March 16th, 2020
AnnouncementsPreparing for for School Closure. There has been no official word on school closing. However, pressure is mounting both internally and externally for the DOE to follow the examples of cities like LA and Seattle and to listen to the recommendations of the CDC. Pressure from the unions and parents is also mounting, too. But for now at 1PM on Sunday (16MAR20) afternoon, NYC DOE Public Schools remain open.
Student and Staff Attendance. I respect the personal decisions of parents, families, and staff to take the steps they find necessary to protect the health and safety of themselves and their families. As per guidance from the Chancellor's office, no punitive actions will be taken towards students, families, or staff on absences that are related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Annie and Jen are already collecting information from families, students, and staff regarding their plans. I am asking that people share their plans so that we can create contingencies to ensure the health and safety of those that do continue at UAI this week. Please message to your students and families that if they are planning to keep students home, attendance will not negatively impact them. However, we do need to know if they are planning to come so that we can prepare at UAI. Please have students/families reach out directly to Jen. For staff, please reach directly out to Annie with your plans.
Adams Street Campus. In the event of school closing, the Adams Street Campus will likely remain open as a food services site. I am currently working with building leaders and staff (along with central DOE leadership) to figure out the logistics on this, but I am also reaching out to see if there are any folks who are willing to voluntarily work at school. If you are, please email me directly. Please do not feel pressured to do so. This is strictly a personal decision, and even if you are willing, it is still not yet certain that the campus will open.
Moving to Online Learning. Student and staff attendance is expected to decrease significantly as time goes on. If we look at cities like Seattle, LA, Cleveland, Detroit, and even closer to us in NJ and Long Island, ultimately NYC DOE schools will close. We have no idea how long that will be, so we must prepare for the worst case scenario and move instruction to be online. We are still finalizing specific logistics on this, and we will be sharing the plan and providing training & support during Monday's PD & Tuesday extended after school time (if we are still in session). To streamline communication with families and students, we need to all be on a common platform. Overwhelmingly, from the survey I sent out last week, the vast majority of teachers are on Google Classrooms. The majority of students are most familiar with that platform. Over the course of this week, we will be moving all classes onto Google Classrooms and pairing staff who are new to the platform to colleagues who are more experienced so that everyone has individualized support and training. To best prepare for tomorrow's PD, please fill out this SURVEY so I can make sure to address any questions and concerns that you have.
To-Do This Week
Staff Attendance. Please share with Annie your circumstances and plans for attendance through the end of this week. We will continue to solicit updates as long as we remain open. To reiterate, the Chancellor has explicitly stated that no disciplinary action be take around COVID-19 related absence. If you have individual questions, please connect with me (in person, via email, or phone) and we can discuss your personal situations.
Student Attendance. Please continue to communicate with Annie if students inform you that they are absent because of Coronavirus related issues. We will continue to update that in ATS so that student absenteeism is accurately recorded.
Benchmarks and Student Led Conferences. We will not be giving benchmarks on Thursday and Friday. When will we give benchmarks? That is still TBD. We will be keeping to the benchmark schedule, if we are still in school. During the extended time, teachers are to work with students to individually assist and train them on how to access your Google Classroom and to review your expectations for participation and work if school is cancelled and we are learning online for an extended period of time (this is also what we will be reviewing during Monday's PD).
We need to make sure that all parents have registered in Skedula. Through Skedula and School Messenger, we are able to send messages (in their home languages) to families in order to keep them up to date on everything that is happening at UAI. In addition, with parent emails, we can provide families access to our Google Classrooms. Please make sure you are updating the SLC Appointment Sheet with family emails and phone numbers. Without your help in getting accurate information, our ability to keep families informed is severely impacted. Please update the document as soon as you have the information so that we can update ATS.
If we are still in school on Thursday and Friday, we will have virtual conferences by phone or video. We will keep the scheduled appointments, and we will focus conferences on helping families access UAI online resources like Google Classrooms, Skedula, and the UAI website.
Today, This Week, and Longer Term Planning. Until we have definitive information from our leadership (president, governor, mayor, chancellor), it is impossible to construct solid plans that will be in place for anything more than a day out. This creates an inordinate amount of stress and anxiety that only exacerbates people's concerns around Corona. It's not ok. To the extent possible, my aim is to mitigate the anxiety and stress that you must be feeling. To that end, please send me your concerns and questions as they come up. If I can, I will most definitely address them. For UAI, our digital presence was pretty significant for most classes and teachers. So, the move into online learning is a big push for some, but certainly not for all. I will ensure those in need of more support have it. In the end, our work to move online is a positive thing for our students and families. Online learning cannot replace teaching and learning in classrooms. However, online resources can significantly help our students and families improve and achieve in our classrooms. These resources are coming online because of a crisis, but in the end, they will be practices and resources that will only enhance the quality of teaching and learning at UAI.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions. What about prom? graduation? grades? If we close, will re reopen? If I'm working at home, does that mean I have to use my CAR? How will we be evaluated for work at home?
There is definitely so many, many more. I want to collect those questions, too, so that I can answer them as soon as I get that information from the DOE. Please make sure you are sharing your ideas in the survey above!
Social-Emotional Learning Update
No Updates this week