Dear Academy Community,
The closing of our academy building this year has had a lasting impact on all of us. While we may not be able to predict all of the challenges that may arise during the 2020-2021 school year, I want you to begin thinking about some of the things that might need to happen to ensure a safe and orderly return to school.
The impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on schools continues to evolve daily. You may have seen yesterday both Mayor DeBlasio and Governor Cuomo’s daily briefings, focused on the reopening of schools in September. It was shared by Governor Cuomo that “school districts” will be submitting Reopening Plans to the state for approval. Beginning next week, the Office of the Superintendent will communicate on a weekly basis, with all parents, about the Diocesan Re-Opening Plans.
We have been following the current CDC guidelines in structuring a plan for our return, and we are awaiting guidance from the NYS Education Department, which is expected to be released in mid-July. I am part of a Dioscean Reopening Taskforce with participants from various members of our Diocese in the hopes that our collaborative efforts will ensure a safe return for everyone. It seems of the three scenarios discussed at our last parent meeting and in the document sent out on June 22nd the first two scenarios are most likely for the first weeks of the school year.
Scenario 1: Enhanced Traditional Plan- We would continue school as normal with enhanced safety precautions in place such as increased hand sanitizer availability, increased frequency of cleaning of high touch areas, limited visitation to our school by visitors in order to possibly prevent the transition to a hybrid or full distance learning option. (Again, this is our plan for September pending more restrictive guidance from the Governor in the coming weeks)
Scenario 2: Social Distancing/Hybrid Plan-Hybrid would be a combination of distance and face-to-face instruction with increased safety and disinfecting measures as listed above, which could be done in a variety of configurations. All students may not be in school every day, and possibly, may only be allowed to report to school on an every other day basis. I know that this will present child care issues for some, so I need you to begin thinking about options for your children if this scenario becomes the case.
At this point I want you to begin considering the following as possibilities:
• The number of students allowed on buses will be drastically reduced. Please note that this is a NYC Office of Pupil Transportation decision, the school nor the Diocese has any say in the bus operation and guidelines.
• Families must keep children home if they are not feeling well or if they have a fever. We are asking all parents to check their child’s temperature with a thermometer every day. If they have a fever, they cannot get on our buses or come to the school building as this would be putting every other student and staff member at risk. Depending on further guidance, we may also need to take temperatures when students get in school. Any student who has a fever at any point during the school day will need to be picked up immediately from school.
• Each student in Grades Nursery-Grade 8 will be issued a school device so that the lack of a device does not become a barrier to student learning both in school and/or at home.
• Students may need to wear masks in school when social distancing is not possible. Please begin having conversations with your children about the need to wear masks, the requirements to stay 6 feet apart from others, and refraining from touching/being right next to others. The school is currently investigating providing students with a few masks to start the year off.
Students and parents must know that throughout the 2020-2021 school year, our school structure may change at any moment based on the regulation and requirements issued to schools. Students need to realize that this is the new normal for school, and they must participate accordingly.
The success of each student is going to require a collaborative effort on your part and the part of all school employees. Please know that the staff and I are dedicated to each student’s success and recognize that, by participating in all required work, we will do whatever it takes to support them. Nothing about this situation is going to be easy for anyone, but we need to encourage each other’s efforts to make the best of it. I will continue to update you with more information as our plans become solidified.
I know there is a great deal of difficult information to digest in this letter, but I want to be transparent with you and make you aware of all of the challenges our school is facing. Re-opening and having students back in school is my greatest desire and it will take monumental efforts on all of our parts to make it happen. If I had one wish granted to me, it would be for school to go back to normal! Thank you for your understanding and, as always, please do not hesitate to contact me with questions. Please know that we shall communicate our detailed plans with you as soon as possible.
Some other key pieces of information to share or remind families of….
School Supplies: Yesterday we shared that every student is expected to have all supplies as well as a school bag on the first day of school. This year we will be working with schooltoolbox.com to host a supply kit sale.
Right now our school online store is live and can be found by clicking here. We are excited to be able to offer this convenience to you. We have worked very hard to make the process as easy as possible. The online store will be open through the summer for parents to shop from their homes. Orders leave the warehouse within 10 days of ordering, so please keep that in mind to order with enough time before school starts. I would suggest that you order the boxes by August 23rd to make sure that your boxes arrive in time for school.
Please note that you can choose not to buy certain items from the list if you already have purchased or will purchase elsewhere.
Summer Reading and Assignments: Just a reminder that all summer assignments are due when we return to school on September 9th and can be found by clicking here. The most important assignment is that of reading each night. The more your child reads, and is read to, the more your child’s network of knowledge strengthens. It not only is “preparing them for the next grade,” but also improves their listening skills, builds early literacy skills, and strengthens their ability to make connections, draw conclusions, and better understand the world around them. Reading with a child each day is an investment for a lifetime.
Recommended Amount of Reading Each Day
Grades PK and K: Read to a child each day/night
Grades 1-2: 20 minutes each day
Grades 3-4: 25 minutes each day
Grades 5-6: 30 minutes each day
Grades 7-8: More than 30 minutes each day
When looking at your summer schedules and trying to balance it all, please remember to make reading a priority.
A Request for Cards: Our former assistant principal Ms. Brenda Brown has recently moved to a new assisted living facility. We are hoping that some of her friends at SFDS could send her a card. We hope these cards will brighten her spirit and we will see her in Rockaway soon. Her address is:
The Arbors Assisted Living Communities
45 Jericho Turnpike
Jericho, NY. 11753
Diocesan and School Financial Aid: We know that the COVID-19 Pandemic has had financial consequences on some of our families. If this holds true for your family, although the application would now be considered late we recommend that you apply for Diocesan Financial Aid for the upcoming school year. Futures in Education is making efforts to assist families and schools throughout the Diocese during this COVID-19 health crisis. To ease the process for our families. As always, we strongly encourage families who may qualify to apply as soon as possible. To apply please click here.
We look forward to hearing about your summers and pray that each of us, our families and friends are held closely by God for good health and peace. Please stay tuned for another update around July 23rd.
Christopher Scharbach, Ed.D