AFCHES School Reopening Plan/Survey

Dear AFCHES Families!

We hope that you have been able to find ways to enjoy the summer months. It was so nice to be “together” with so many of you during our reopening town halls.  We miss you and our wonderful scholars!!!!  

During the town halls, we shared some of our preliminary thinking for what the 20-21 school year will look like and got your input and feedback. We’re now ready to share our updated plans. One of the decisions we’ve made based on your feedback is to begin our school year remote for all scholars. We will start school – 100% remote – on September 1 for scholars in Grades K, 5, and 9, and on September 2 for all other grades.  All scholars will learn remotely through at least October 2. Assuming that it is safe to begin in-person learning on October 5 (which may change at any time based on the situation with the pandemic), we will start a slow and safe phase in of those students who are coming in-person.  

There are several advantages to starting all remote.  First, this will allow us to teach all of our safety procedures to students before we are together in-person and the risks are greater; this will also enable us to learn from other schools who return to school in-person sooner.  While we normally like to lead, given the high risk for our community and the reopening challenges we are hearing about across the country, we don’t want to go first and put our children and staff in danger.  Second, starting all remote will enable students, families, and staff to become familiar with our remote program and get in a good rhythm around remote learning before we add the complexity of our hybrid, in-person instruction.  One thing at a time!  And, let’s be honest, the odds are very high that we will need to spend a significant portion of the year in remote learning, so we all need to get good at it.  See the calendar below for more specifics on the first few weeks of school. Of course, the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and school reopening changes frequently so we may need to alter these plans over time, especially as Mayor De Blasio makes school reopening decisions in New York. 

With this context in mind, we’re writing today asking you to take a survey  In this survey, we are asking you to make your selection about whether you’d like to have your scholar learn remotely or in-person for the first “chapter” of the school year from October 5 – October 30. You will be able to make another choice for November and December.  Please review the updates below and complete THIS SURVEY by 5 PM on Friday August 21 to let us know where you’d like your scholar to learn from for Oct 5-Oct 30 and share other important details.  It is critically important that we know what each of our families wants and needs so that we can plan accordingly.  This is also the survey that tells us if your scholar needs a computer or Wi-Fi.

Your options: To help you make this important decision for your family, please review our detailed plan available on our website.  Here are your choices at a high level.

  • Fully Remote: We recommend remote as the safest and best option for any family that can make it work.  We believe the virus is still very high-risk, especially in our communities, and we want to err on the side of keeping everyone safe.  We are investing heavily in a high-quality remote learning option.  What we did in the Spring was some of the strongest in the country– and it’s going to be even better next fall thanks to your feedback.  Based on your feedback, remote elementary school students will now log onto full, “live” teacher-taught classes on Zoom, similar to what our middle school students got last year.  Our remote middle school students will actually be logging onto the same classes as their in-school peers in a way that will enable them to be together even though they are physically apart. We are developing a remote learning option that will BOTH help students learn AND help them build community with their classmates and teachers.  We will be providing all remote students with their own dedicated AF laptop if you need one and do not have one already. 
  • In-Person 2 days per week, remote 3 days: We know some families will want or need in-person school.  For most of you, our recommendation is that your child attend school 2 days in-person and 3 days remote.  This will allow us to have very small class sizes and will limit your child’s exposure to other students and staff.  We will work with you to make sure that siblings from the same family are in-person on the same days. If you need your child to learn in-person, this is our recommended option for all grades (and, at the moment, the only in-person option we can guarantee). 
  • In-Person 4 days per week, remote one day: If you really need 4 days per week, please let us know.  We may not be able to accommodate you based on staffing and facilities, but we will try.  We will prioritize interested Kindergarten students and families for this option.  For grades 1-12, we will do the best we can. 
  • I’m Flexible: We are doing our best to accommodate the needs of all of our families while maintaining the small, stable classes that are essential to keep everyone safe.  If you are flexible in terms of your ability to have your scholar learn either remotely or in-person, please select this option  This will enable us to accommodate the people who most need in-person instruction first and then we will let you know what else is available.

We are committed to family choice, but we are also committed to safety. As we discussed during the Town Halls, we will put in place a number of layered safety precautions for in-person instruction (masks for both students and teachers, wellness checks, frequent hand-washing, deep clearing of the facilities, maintaining six feet of distance between desks and during transitions, and other safeguards).  All of this means we must have significantly smaller classes than during traditional school. As long as you complete your survey by August 21, we will confirm with you by August 28 what we’re able to accommodate in terms of in-person school (which will start on October 5).

During the town halls, one major question we heard from families is around uniforms. Given the challenges posed by the pandemic, we have decided to temporarily adjust our uniform policy.

  • There is no uniform requirement for scholars learning remotely.  Students can dress casually; students may not wear sleepwear (e.g. pajamas, undergarments, sleep bonnets/head ties, wave caps/du-rags, or bandanas) low-cut shirts (including tank tops and camisoles), cut-off/revealing bottoms that will be visible during remote learning, hats/hoods, and clothing with inappropriate or profane writing or images.  Headwraps (e.g. Kente wraps, scarfs/headwraps for religious purposes) are permitted.  There may be exceptions to the dress code for special dress down days, e.g. Pajama Day, Represent Your Country/Flag Day.
  • Students will not be required to purchase formal uniforms for scholars learning in-person until ALL students and staff are permitted to return to the building safely. For scholars learning in-person, they must follow the casual dress guidelines above and should wear rubber soled shoes (for safety purposes). Individual schools may require scholars to wear an AF shirt (e.g., polo, sweater, a college T-shirt).  If so, schools will provide at least one AF shirt to all new families.
  • See this FAQ document and communications directly from your school for more details!

Another question that came up during the town hall was about busing. We are currently working with the NYCDOE on transportation options.  Given the safety risks of increased exposure on the bus, we would recommend that any family that has a private transportation option uses that instead. We have included a question on the survey to understand your family’s transportation needs. 

We cannot wait to see you and your scholar for the 20-21 school year.  While we will start safely with remote learning, we cannot wait to have our community together again!

Best,

Dr. Sade Johnson

Important Updates Regarding 20 -21 School Year

  • As this school year comes to a close, we are increasing our focus on next school year, and to our first responsibility of keeping our scholars and staff safe. In a previous message, we shared the different scenarios we’re planning for, and we want to share an additional level of detail today. Below explains more of what we think school will look like next year, and please expect us to reach out during the summer once we have more information.
  • Safety Parameters: Drawing from recently published guidance from the CDC, we have created safety parameters for how to prevent the spread of the virus within our school buildings, including desk spacing, increased hand washing, reducing the amount of students and staff each class comes into contact with, and temperature checks. We will continue to update these parameters and share them this summer.
  • Remote & In-Person Instruction At the Same Time: Our goal is to make remote and in-person school as similar as possible so that we can, if need be, switch from in-person school to remote school or continue operating on parallel tracks for the entire school year.
  • Class Sizes for In-person Schooling: As part of our safety protocol, we are planning to space all desks six feet apart. That means we will need to reduce class size. We are planning for a class size of 12 scholars per room, with more scholars in larger spaces where social distancing is still possible with larger numbers.
  • Parent Preference: We want all families to voice their preference of whether to have their child return to in-person school (assuming that is an option) or remain remote, and we are working with our authorizers to make this possible. To do this, we are breaking the year up into ~2 month “chapters” and asking families to give their preference of whether to return to in-person school / remain remote for that given chapter (e.g., do you want your child to attend live school during September-October?). We’ll send a survey to all families, asking you to voice your preference, this summer.
  • Determining In-School Attendance:  We want to do everything we can to honor parent preference. If we have more parents who would like to send their children to in-person school than we can accommodate with social distancing, we want to be intentional about which scholars return to in-person school. In general, we will try to have as many of our K-4 scholars return to school as possible because we know that accessing remote learning is much more challenging for our youngest students. As we learn more about the guidance from our states, we will share more details on which other students will be prioritized for in-person instruction. There is a chance that IF more scholars want to return than we are legally allowed to host given social distancing requirements, some students may need to rotate between in-person and remote schooling. 

Actualizaciones Importantes

  • Achievement First sigue aceptando inscripciones para el año escolar 20-21! Por favor comente con sus amigos y familias que seguimos aceptando aplicaciones. Para aplicar, las familias interesadas deben de visitar achievementfirst.schoolmint.net o comunicarse con nuestro equipo de Reclutamiento de estudiantes de NY al (718) 265-1437 o admissionsNYC@achievementfirst.org.
  • Mientras se acerca el final del año escolar, estamos más y más enfocados en el próximo año escolar, teniendo como responsabilidad prioritaria el mantener a todos nuestros estudiantes y personal seguros. Hace algunas semanas les mencionamos los diferentes escenarios para los cuales nos estamos preparando y hoy deseamos compartirles más detalles al respecto. La siguiente información explica cómo se verá la escuela el próximo año, estaremos comunicándonos con ustedes durante el verano con mayor información. 
  • Parámetros de Seguridad: En base a las guías más recientes del CDC, hemos desarrollado parámetros de seguridad para prevenir el contagio del virus dentro de la escuela, incluyendo espacio entre los escritorios, lavado de manos regular, menos estudiantes y profesores en cada salón de clases y revisión de temperatura. Continuaremos actualizando los parámetros y se los compartiremos durante el verano.
  • Clases a Distancia y En Persona a la Vez: Nuestra meta es que la educación remota y en persona sean lo más similares posibles para que, en caso de ser necesario, podamos cambiar entre las mismas y continuar operando adecuadamente.
  • Tamaño de los Salones de Clases: Como parte de nuestro protocolo de seguridad, estamos planeando dejar 6 pies de distancia entre los escritorios, lo cual significa que estaremos reduciendo el número de estudiantes por grupo. Estamos planeando tener 12 estudiantes en cada salón, con un mayor número de niños en salones más grandes en donde sea posible el distanciamiento social. 
  • Preferencia de los Padres: Queremos que todas las familias expresen su preferencia si desean que sus hijos regresen a la escuela en persona (asumiendo que tengamos esa opción) o que estudien desde casa, y estamos trabajando con las organizaciones que nos autorizan para hacerlo posible. Para poder llevarlo a cabo, estaríamos partiendo el año escolar en “capítulos” de aproximadamente 2 meses y pidiéndole a las familias que den su preferencia sobre mantener a sus hijos en casa o en la escuela durante cada capítulo. (ej. Desea que su hijo/a asista a la escuela en persona de Septiembre-Octubre?). Les estaremos enviando una encuesta a todas las familias este verano, pidiendo que expresen su preferencia. 
  • Determinar asistencia en la escuela: queremos hacer todo lo posible para honrar la preferencia de los padres. Si tenemos más padres a quienes les gustaría que sus hijos asistan la escuela en persona podríamos acomodarlos con distancia social. Queremos ser intencionales sobre qué estudiantes regresan a la escuela en persona. En general, intentaremos que la mayor cantidad posible de nuestros alumnos de K-4 regresen a la escuela porque sabemos que el acceso al aprendizaje remoto es mucho más difícil para nuestros estudiantes jóvenes. A medida que aprendamos más sobre la orientación de nuestros estados, compartiremos más detalles sobre qué otros estudiantes tendrán prioridad para instrucción en persona. Existe la posibilidad de que SI más estudiantes quieran regresar de los que legalmente podemos permitir, dados los requisitos de distancia social, algunos estudiantes tendrían que alternar entre la educación en persona y remota.

AF Crown Heights Elementary Accepting Kindergarten Applications for 20-21 school year!📚

Achievement First is still enrolling for the 20-21 school year!

Please let your friends and family know that we are still accepting applications. To apply, interested families should visit achievementfirst.schoolmint.net or contact the NY Student Recruitment team at (718) 265 – 1437 or admissionsNYC@achievementfirst.org for assistance.