Happy Holidays from Dr. Johnson

Hi AF Families,

We hope you have a safe and fun Winter Break! We look forward to hearing all about it when virtual learning resumes on January 5th, 2021.

Check out the CHES Winter Reading Challenge!! It starts tomorrow December 19th.
(You can download the document attached or use the link below to complete your own calendar)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gYErcmh9Bbs3EDVWTFll9B4lDTWtGk5mp9eNzqlQ_u0/edit?usp=sharing

4th Grade Family Workshop 12/17

Hello Parents and Families,

Thank you once again for your continued partnership in these challenging times.  Without your partnership, we would be on a steep uphill battle in this current climate.  There are so many things to celebrate as we enter this holiday break.  Scholars are giving their best efforts day in and day out.  And as we close out our first report card week of the 20-21 school year, we want to send you guys into the break with a look at where we’ve been, where we are going and the best ways for you to support your scholar over break and thereafter. 

Please join us on Thursday, December 17, 2020 for a Parent Workshop where we will be providing resources to you to best support your scholar at home in Humanities, Math and Guided Reading. 

If you have any questions please let your scholar’s teacher know.  We look forward to seeing you all there!

-4th Grade Team

AF Reopening Plan Update- March 9th, 2021

Dear Achievement First Crown Heights Families–

We hope you all are having a safe and joyful holiday season! We are writing today with an update on our school reopening plans in the new year!

In our last announcement, we shared that all Achievement First schools in NY would be remote until at least January 25, 2021. Based on recent spikes in COVID cases in our communities, we are writing to share that we have made the decision to extend our period of remote learning. Our hope is to return to in-person hybrid instruction on March 9, 2021.

We know that this decision has a significant impact on our community, which is why we wanted to announce this as soon as possible and share the rationale for this decision. As always with the COVID-19 pandemic, our decisions are guided by two priorities: 1) safety and 2) meeting scholar and family needs. As the pandemic and local context changes, so too must our thinking for how to keep our schools safe and meet the needs of our scholars and families. Sadly, we are seeing another surge of the COVID-19 virus across our country and specifically in our communities. Following predictions from researchers and health experts, this surge has increased since Thanksgiving and current models predict that the virus will continue to spread through December and January, particularly as a result of the holiday season. The worst of this second spike is likely to come precisely as we were originally planning to return for in-person learning. While we are heartened by positive news about vaccines for the virus, we know those vaccines will not arrive in time to stop the current surge we are experiencing.

As we have seen from other schools operating with hybrid learning this Fall in New York and from our own schools in Connecticut and Rhode Island, we have confidence in the safety measures put in place to stop the spread of the virus within schools (e.g., mask wearing, social distancing, symptom screening, small/stable groups, frequent hand-washing / sanitizing). While these measures help to prevent the virus from spreading within the school, the fact remains that if the virus is spreading within the community, it’s impossible to prevent the virus from coming into the school from the outside. As community spread increases, the likelihood that multiple staff / scholars either have the virus or were in close contact with someone who does increases, thus presenting a number of challenges. First, as scholars/staff who have contracted the virus come into school, we are required to quarantine entire classes / grades. Second, it becomes challenging for us to staff our schools as more and more teachers and support staff must quarantine. Our experience this Fall indicates that hybrid learning when community spread is high ultimately leads to frequent and unplanned closures of schools that are very difficult for families and staff to navigate (e.g., late the night before, learning that your child’s class / school will switch the next day to remote learning for 2 weeks) . While our deepest wish is to return to in-person learning, we don’t believe this last-minute, stop-start, high-uncertainty (and anxiety) schooling is good for students, families, or staff. When we are on the other side of this spike in cases, we are hopeful that we will be able to have more consistent, in-person instruction for the students and families who need it. In the meantime, we are very grateful that families are expressing such a high level of satisfaction with our remote learning program.

Of course, we recognize that remaining remote for longer is challenging. That is why we are aiming to return to hybrid learning in March 2021 and are hopeful that our community is able to curtail the spread of the virus by then. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and update you as the situation unfolds while preparing to resume in-person learning.

Finally, we know that this decision both increases the importance of improving the quality of our remote learning experience and being available to answer any and all questions on your mind. To that end, we will host two OPTIONAL family town hall meetings next Thursday, December 17. We will have a morning option from 7:30-8:30 AM and an evening option from 5:15-6:15 PM. To join one of these town halls, please JOIN HERE when the meeting begins. You can access audio on your computer or call in by dialing 1-267-831-0333 and entering meeting ID 377 275 9122.

To say the least, 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. And yet, throughout this difficult time, we are continually inspired by the love, care, and commitment of our entire Team & Family. We are filled with tremendous gratitude for your flexibility and partnership and don’t know where we would be without you.
We hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday season!


With love,
Dacia, Rich and Steph

📣What’s Happening at AFCHES- December 🎄❄️☃️

Monday, 12/7- Friday, 12/11: Report Card Conferences (Information on how to set up meetings can be found on parent square, google classroom, or email your scholar’s teacher)

Monday, 12/14: Family Workshop- Coping with the challenges of Covid-19 & At-Home Learning

Thursday, 12/17: Family Night- Do You Want to Build a Snowman

Friday, 12/18: Spirit Day- Ugly Sweater Day

Friday, 12/18: AFCHES Movie Experience

Monday, 12/21/2020- Tuesday, 1/4/2021: Winter Break

Tuesday, 1/5/2021: Virtual Learning Resumes

📣AF School Reopening Plan Update

AF NY Families, 

We hope you and your scholars are having a great week!  We are reaching out today with an important update about our reopening plan in New York. We have decided to NOT begin hybrid learning on 11/9 as originally planned and instead plan to remain remote only in NY until January 25, 2021. 

This was a DEEPLY difficult decision to make for us. There is nothing we want more than to reopen our schools for hybrid learning in NY and provide support for those students and families who want in-person school. As we were weighing this decision, it felt like there were no “good” options available..  After reviewing all of the factors, we believe that remaining remote through January 25, 2021 is the best option available considering the circumstances.  

Our most important responsibility is to keep your scholar safe…and the truth is that we simply don’t think it’s safe to reopen in NYC right now.  Here’s why:

  • There are rising case counts – and school and non-essential business closures – in the neighborhoods surrounding our schools, where many of our families and staff members live.  There are currently over 100 NYC public schools closed due to outbreaks, with another 300+ on the “watch list” for potential closures in the coming days. All currently closed schools and schools on the “watch list” are located in Brooklyn or Queens. 
  • Given these closures, we don’t have confidence that NYC schools in our neighborhoods will remain open consistently for the next two months. We’d rather announce a closure proactively to our families rather than wait for what seems like inevitable rolling closures that will leave our families scrambling at the last minute.  Making the decision now allows our families to plan ahead – and allows us to devote our energy to ensuring remote learning in NY is really strong – as opposed to dividing efforts between on-again-off-again in-person school and remote.
  • NY’s mandatory quarantine requirements require anyone traveling from a restricted area to quarantine for 14 days, even if they have a negative PCR test result. Because we cannot and would not try to dictate to our staff what they can and cannot do over the holidays, we cannot be certain that we will have enough staff to open school for the two weeks after each break. That means we would basically be open for just two weeks in November and then have to close between Thanksgiving and Winter Break.
  • Additionally, we want to make sure that we have adequate time to confirm that our schools that are co-located in DOE buildings have functional ventilation systems installed. This work has unfortunately been delayed as the DOE has spent the fall focusing on re-opening – and we need additional time to adequately address any ventilation concerns in our buildings.
  • Finally, we want to share our reasoning for why this extends until 1/25 even though Winter Break ends on January 3. As described above, NY’s mandatory quarantine means we don’t believe we’ll have adequate staff to run our schools from January 4 – January 18, the two weeks following Winter Break. In addition, January 18 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a school holiday, and we require three days of in-person PD before starting school which would happen on 1/19-1/21. Finally, 1/22 is a Friday, which is always remote for us this year. Thus, if we are able to open, we’d do so on 1/25 (the Monday after MLK day).

As we mentioned above, this was an incredibly difficult decision to make which is why we wanted to share our thinking as transparently as we can. We commit to sharing an update with you all in mid-December about whether we’ll be able to open in January. That decision, like this one, will be based on the safety of our facilities, the prevalence of COVID in our communities, and the likelihood that we’ll be able to serve families in a hybrid learning environment. In the meantime, please reach out to your child’s school directly with any questions. 

Finally, we want to conclude with gratitude. We are incredibly thankful for ALL of your partnership and work in service of our scholars, community, and each other. If you have ANY questions about this, please feel free to reach out!

Best,
Dacia Toll (CEO), Stephanie Keenoy (Superintendent), and Richard Buery (President)

🕫What’s Happening at AFCHES- October 🍂🍁

Monday, 10/5: BOY Testing Begins

Monday, 10/12: Indigenous People’s Day (NO SCHOOL)

Tuesday, 10/13: Virtual Learning Resumes- Wear Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

Thursday, 10/22: Essential Workers Day

Thursday, 10/29: AFCHES Family Town hall; 5 – 6 pm ; Pajama Day

Friday, 10/30:Family Movie Night