Sunday, January 2, 2022

Week of Jan 3rd

UAI Staff News

Volume IX
Issue 18
January 3rd, 2022

Principal Message

Happy New Year!  Happy New Year UAI!  I do hope that you all were able to enjoy fun and loving times with family and friends.  I also hope you made time to unplug, recharge and relax over this holiday break! 

I know as we prepare to return there are undoubtedly many questions surrounding COVID and returning to school in person.  While there are some large districts across the nation (and across the river) that are deciding to remain remote, NYC Public Schools are doubling down on staying open.  

While there are still many outstanding questions about the Omicron variant, some initial findings are providing sources for cautious hope.  This variant is significantly more contagious than prior variants, BUT it is also significantly less deadly.  One hope is that as Omicron becomes the dominant variant, this will usher us from COVID being a pandemic to COVID being endemic (like the flu).  Certainly, the wide spread of this virus pushes us more rapidly towards herd immunity, and hopefully with that, we inch our way back to an increased normality.

That said, we still have a hard road ahead - certainly for this next month.  We will continue to do our best to protect our students and our community as much as possible, and now more than ever, every single member of our community needs to do their best to do what they can to make sure we are all following protocols to maintain the health and safety of everyone at UAI.  Here are some reminders and updates to our COVID protocols aimed at mitigating transmission as much as we can.
  • Masking:  Please make sure you and your students have their masks covering BOTH noses and mouths.  Quick unmasks to take sips of water (for example) are ok, but the masks must immediately be put back in place properly.  Please expect to remind students constantly.  Nearly all of our student comply with easy reminders - even nonverbal points to the face work seamlessly.  But we will have to constantly remind them.  Please also remind your colleagues to do the same.  We are all human and sometimes we forget.  It is not an insult or overstep to help one another remember that we all play a part in upholding the health and safety of our school.  

  • Testing:  All staff will be provided with at home test kits each week (two tests per week) for the month of January at least.  Our in-house testing will continue weekly, but capacity will double.  This isn't much, but it is something.  Instead of testing about 20-25 students each week, we'll be testing 40-50.   

    • Do students receive home test kits?  Yes, but only if
      • A student shows symptoms OR
      • A student is in a class with someone who tests positive

  • PPE and Physical Distancing:  Please make sure students remain physically distant and are using appropriate PPE as needed (masks, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes).  Even during classes you are covering as a sub, please ensure students are not clustered together and remain seated at least 3' apart in their desks.  Staff will continue to have access to KN95 masks upon request, and students will continue to be provided with regular surgical masks when needed.  

  • Filtering:  Each classroom still has two classroom filters.  Please use them.  In addition, when it is not too cold outside, please also open the windows for added ventilation.  Windows are not mandatory with the filters, but added ventilation is always a bonus when we can make it happen.  In the winter, that will be rough, but with our mild days so far with winter temps in the 50s, we should take advantage of those times when possible.

  • Boosting:  If you have not done so already (and are 6+ months away from your 2nd shot), then one of the most effective things you can do to protect yourself is to get your booster shot ASAP.

It is always true that all things must end at some point - even this pandemic.  The goal is to get through it as best as we can and to end up in the strongest, best place that we can.  We cannot eliminate spread 100%.  Even when we were all remote, COVID still spread.  However, we can be diligent and work together to minimize spread in our school.  

This will be a challenging few weeks, but through our community and our support, we are strong, and we will find ourselves on the other side of these weeks before we know it!

Important dates this month.  

  • Week of 03JAN - Principal Advisory Student Group Meetings
  • 05JAN21:  Lady Eagles Home Basketball Game at 4:30
  • 06JAN21:  Lady Eagles Home Basketball Game at 4:30

  • 10JAN21:  Lady Eagles Home Basketball Game at 4:30
  • 10JAN21:  Monthly PD Meeting - Rescheduled Circles (from the cancelled Dec Circle)
  • 11JAN21:  Monthly Grade Team Meetings
  • Week of 17JAN - Principal Advisory Student Group Meetings

  • 17JAN21:  MLK Jr. Day - NO SCHOOL
  • 18JAN21:  Lady Eagles Home Basketball Game at 4:30
  • 21JAN21:  Lady Eagles Home Basketball Game at 4:30

  • Week of 24JAN21:  Power-Up Week
  • 28JAN21:  End of MP2 
  • 31JAN21:  Chancellor's PD Day (Remote Day)
  • 01FEB21:  Lunar New Year - NO SCHOOL
  • 02FEB21:  MP3 Begins

Committee Updates

Equity Team.  No Updates this week Please review the meeting minutes.

Circles Committee.  Our next circle will be via zoom at 4PM on Monday, 20DEC21.

Consultation Committee.  No Updates this Week.  Please review the consultation committee notes from the last meeting.  The next meeting is scheduled for 12JAN21.  The agenda will be shared out in the Sunday blog on 09JAN21.  Damon will be facilitating, so please do share agenda items with him!


New Quarantine Rules.  Over the break you should have received an email detailing the updates and changes the DOE released regarding quarantine rules.  As a reminder, for folks who test COVID positive, these are the updated quarantine rules:
  • Any school-based staff who tests positive for COVID may now return to work after isolating for five days (i.e. on day 6) provided that the individual is asymptomatic OR exhibiting only mild symptoms which are improving (e.g. mild cough with no phlegm, no fever for 3 days (unmedicated) and no runny nose).  The change comes from the guidance released by the CDC and is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.
  • Any student who tests positive (either on the home test or other test), must isolate for 10 days.
  • Any person exposed to COVID no longer quarantines immediately
    • For staff - this is a continuance of the policy. Staff will receive at home test kits. If the staff person tests positive, they must follow the quarantine rules above.
    • For students in kindergarten through grade 12, unvaccinated or not yet fully-vaccinated students who were in close proximity to a positive case will no longer have to quarantine and will continue attending school if they do not have symptoms and do not have a positive test result from a COVID test. Instead, all students and adults in that classroom will receive a take-home rapid test kit and take two tests over the course of five days.  If the student tests positive, they must quarantine for 10 days (see above)

Outreach, Feedback, Grades & Google Classrooms.  Undoubtedly, parents and families will be confused and concerned about the return to school.  Many may elect to keep their children home.  Unfortunately, this will still count as an absence, but we still need to make sure our students have access to learning and do not fall behind.  Please review the To Do list below to follow through on next steps.

Regents Week and Power Up Week.   January Regents exams have been cancelled. The DOE has not yet messaged what will be happening that week, but likely, those days will be instructional days.  That week was already marked for the middle school PowerUp week, and now it will be the Power Up week for all.  In addition, we will be having special programs during that week to 
  • make time for teachers to get ahead in their planning or catch up on grading
  • administer mock regents/middle school exams to check in on student progress towards mastery of fall content.  

<Repost> Dance and Arts Clubs start after Holiday Break.  We are partnering with a new organization called Broadway Arts for Education and they will be teaching our dance program beginning January 4th AND they will be offering elective programming for Acting, Podcasting, and Poetry that will take place during learning labs.  Students will have a chance to sign up for the spring electives starting this week and will be removed from learning labs for the remainder of the year . 

In addition, if any staff would also like to run their clubs during the learning lab time, please email me to let me know.  I'm shifting the compensation to pay prep period coverage for that club AND give 1 hour of after school per session (for planning time for the club).  After school per clubs will get 1 hour of after school per session).  Please email me what you'd like to do!

To Do This Week

This is the stuff that requires your attention AND it's stuff you need to do!

Outreach & Attendance. This week, many families may elect to keep their children home.  Family emails were sent home last week (the same that staff received) and students received the same email.  Please monitor advisee attendance.  Please flexibly use your outreach time on Tuesday and during your programmed professional period to make contact with home each day an advisee is absent, especially this week.  Listen to families' concerns and reiterate our protocols and efforts to mitigate transmission.  Please raise up any outstanding concerns (or issues that you do not know how to address) to Kiri, Annie, or Jen as soon as possible.  

Feedback & Improvement.  Both students in your classes and students who are at home need feedback on their work (or feedback about how to improve work submission so that you can coach their learning).  Marking Period 2 ends at the end of this month, with Power-Up week the final full week in January.  Please use your programmed feedback time to make sure students are receiving timely verbal and written feedback to improve academic performance and social emotional skills in your classes.

Grades.  With the change in course codes, cumulating MP1 with MP2 is not happening automatically across the board.  The best way to make sure MP1 is reflected in MP2 is to use the final MP1 grade as a performance grade in MP2.  It will be the teacher's discretion on how much to weight MP1.  Is this a method you would like to continue for the year? Share your opinion here.

Google Classrooms.  With the likelihood of students being absent this week, please make sure that all students have access to learning via your Google Classrooms.  We will be encouraging families to come back to school AND we will be providing students who may have to quarantine with access to learning via Google Classrooms.  Please use Monday PD time to update your Google Classrooms this week.

Per Session Postings

Please complete THS PER SESSION INTEREST FORM and email Kiri to let her know that you are applying for a per session position.
  • Scheduling Committee.  We will begin programming for next year.  This committee will review & refine processes used this year for course selection.  Committee members must commit to time outside of school hours to train in STARS programming and they will be responsible for actually programming the school in STARS for next year.  Committee members will also be charged with integrated constituency voices (students, staff, families, partners) and aligning NYCDOE academic & union requirements to constituency requests.   Committee members can expect to meet weekly for 1 hour and put in at least 2-3 hours independently (remote work ok) on work products related to programming and scheduling.  Committee members will work in conjunction with Instructional Leadership Team and School Leadership to finalize program options and implement programmatic needs. 
    • Required Skills - Facility with MS Excel required
    • Preferred Skills - Strong communication skills, someone who likes solving puzzles with multiple variables with multiple outcomes, willing to learn DOE systems and academic/union requirements for programming and scheduling

    • Staffing up to 5 members to begin meeting after posting closes on 17JAN21
  • Hiring Committee.  We are forming our hiring committee.  During hiring season, members selected to the committee should be ready to spend 1-5 hours per week doing the following activities:

    • Candidate Recruitment
      • Outreach to colleges and universities - Including NYS & NYC, and also HBCUs, 
      • Researching and finding and attending hiring fairs for people of color
      • Present at hiring fairs and actively recruit attendees to UAI Interviews
      • Outreach to communities and community organizations
      • Leverage Social Media, and current UAI Community Connections to find staff
      • Develop creative approaches for reaching and maximizing the number of candidates of color applying to work at UAI.
    • Create a strong presentation of who we are (visual and verbal)
      • Leverage what makes us special!
        • Highlight anti-racist work, creative programming, Juneteenth, all-girls, college and career focused, mission as a whole, teacher growth focus, teacher-centered/planned PD’s
      • Provide content on UAI Website around hiring, staffing, and UAI community to provide a public facing sense of what it is like to be part of our community
    • Facilitate interviews and demo lessons/debriefs
      • Conduct panel and individual interviews
      • Review demo lesson plans, and independently learn any new content to be prepared to conduct comprehensive debrief of demo lessons

    Candidates for this Position will be Selected using the following criteria:
    Ability to present the school well - focusing on things to highlight
    Capacity to remain open and intentionally weigh many factors, and refrain from making quick judgements
    Commitment to criteria and the the UAI hiring process
    Commitment to anti-racist work and mission of UAI
    Effective teachers with a solid understanding of instruction and discipline
  • Staffing up to 5 members to begin meeting after posting closes on 17JAN21

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