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Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of November 29, 2021

Dear Families,

This map shows all known active interventions and cases of COVID-19 at New York City public schools. It gives us a clearer understanding of how classroom closures are impacting children, families, and educators around the city.  When I learn about a positive case in our community, I communicate immediately with impacted staff and families because, as a parent, I understand how disruptive and stressful last-minute closures are for everyone. However, I also must await guidance from the “Situation Room,” and unfortunately, it is only open from 7 AM - 4:30 PM during the week; it is closed on Saturday and open 11 AM - 3:30 PM on Sunday.  These limited hours very much restrict the ability of schools and families to prepare.  

When conducting an investigation, the Situation Room asks about close contacts over the previous three days.  “Close contacts” are students who are less than 3 feet apart for at least 10 minutes with masks on or students less than 6 feet apart for at least 10 minutes, masks off.  I understand that when the Mayor changed social distancing guidelines in October, parents anticipated fewer disruptions. However, keeping young children socially distanced in classrooms (over three days!) is just not possible.  Please also remember that our youngest children eat in the classrooms.  Close contacts can come out of quarantine and return to school if they 1) quarantine for ten days and have no symptoms, OR 2) get a negative test result 5 - 7 days after exposure and have no symptoms.

How can families help keep our community safe?

  1. Keep your child home and get them tested if they have any COVID or cold-like symptoms.

  2. Wear masks during playdates and on the playground after school.  

  3. Advocate for expanding hours for the Situation Room (especially as we head into winter).  Please consider joining the Advocacy Committee through Konstella.

  4. Be patient and understanding.  Trust that the school is doing its best to keep your child and our community safe.  Remember, we are a public school and must follow DoE guidelines. 

Our school will offer the first & second dose of Pfizer vaccinations to eligible students, ages 5 - 11, on Wednesday, December 1st, from 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM.

  • Children ages 5 to 11 can receive the vaccine if accompanied by a parent or guardian, and parent/guardian consent is given.  No appointment is necessary.

  • The parent/guardian accompanying the student to the vaccination site must adhere to the DOE’s Visitor Policy and Protocol for Visitors but is not required to show proof of vaccination to enter the building for this purpose.

  • Students cannot return to school after getting vaccinated.

  • Don’t forget to send a $100 referral bonus to our PTA!  Just select Parent-Teacher Association of the Neighborhood School for the name of the organization that referred you or requested at the time of your child’s appointment. This is in addition to a $100 pre-paid debit card for your child—be sure to ask about both incentives!

  • Parents may enter their child for a chance to win one of 50 four-year, full-ride scholarships to any two-year or four-year New York State public college or university.

Finally, a reminder that Friday is a TNS half-day.  Dismissal is at 11:45 AM.  

With Love,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of November 22, 2021

Dear Families,

I am resharing a poignant and powerful clip of Amber Ruffin on Instagram that Denise shared with me in response to the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse because it captured how many, many people, especially Black and brown people, felt after hearing Friday’s verdict.  “It’s not OK for the judicial system to be blatantly and obviously stacked against people of color. It’s not OK for there to be an entirely different set of rules for white people.  But I don’t care about Kyle Rittenhouse.  I don’t care about that racist judge...  I care about you.  You matter.  You matter.  Every time one of these verdicts comes out, it’s easy to feel like you don’t but, I am here to tell you that you do.  You matter.  You matter so much that the second you start to get a sense that you do, a man will grab a gun he shouldn’t have in the first place and travel all the way to another state just to quiet you. That’s the power you have.”  Her compelling message makes me think about our work engaging in critical dialogue with our children and each other about racial inequities in our school, country, and the world and continuing to celebrate and honor our children and each other.  

TNS will continue the Rainbow Coalition, our support group for transgender, gender nonconforming, non-binary, gender-questioning, gay, lesbian, and bi students.  Matt, 2nd/3rd-grade teacher, and Oli, our P.E. teacher, will co-facilitate.  The group is open to students ages 5 - 11 years and will meet once a month during the school day.   The first meeting is on Monday, December 15.  Please see attached flyer for additional details and email Matt at matt@tnsny.org for more information.

I am resharing the Family Resources: Native American Cultures to support you in having discussions with your children about Thanksgiving beyond the singular narrative that reinforces negative stereotypes and myths about the Native People.  Whatever family traditions you honor this weekend, enjoy the long and very well-deserved break.  I hope that it feels restful and rejuvenating.  

With Love,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of November 15, 2021

Dear Families,

As Thanksgiving approaches, classes explore the indigenous perspective on how this holiday came about. Though we now use this day to spend time with family and friends and share delicious food, this is a day of mourning for indigenous communities as they remember the violence against the Wampanoag from the English settlers.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the history of Thanksgiving, generations of Americans have been taught a one-sided history in homes and schools.  Over the next couple of weeks, classes will learn about the history of Thanksgiving beyond the singular narrative that reinforces negative stereotypes and myths about the Native People.  Our librarian, Cheryl, has shared Family Resources: Native American Cultures to support families navigating follow-up discussions.  Remember to listen and give your child a chance to talk, process, and play out their thinking without interruption.  When we react by interrupting or judging that something is wrong, the message children get is, “I shouldn’t talk about this.”  Instead, we want to show children that it is safe to talk about and play in front of adults, which opens the doors for communication.  Please reach out directly to your child’s teacher if you have questions.

Spread the word: we are starting tours for prospective families!  It is a TNS tradition that our 5th-grade students participate and answer questions during Q & A.  Current parents also join in answering questions. I love our tours; I love hearing 5th graders and TNS parents talk about what makes our school community so unique.  All tours will be virtual this year, and interested families can sign-up for a date these links:

https://bit.ly/tnsnovember23tour

https://bit.ly/tnsdecember7tour

https://bit.ly/tnsdecember16tour

https://bit.ly/tnsjanuary11tour

https://bit.ly/tnsjanuary28tour

https://bit.ly/tnsfebruary10tour

Finally, please send your child in with lots of warm layers because all classrooms have at least two windows open for ventilation, and it can get cold.

With Love,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of October 25, 2021

Dear Families,

Next week is family conferences!  Twice each year (in November and March), we hold family conferences.  They provide an opportunity for teachers, together with the child, to talk with the adults in each child’s family about the child’s work in school.  We will have evening conferences on November 3rd is set aside for evening conferences, and Thursday, November 4th, is half-day.  Dismissal will be at 11:45 AM.  All conferences will be conducted on Zoom this year.  Your child’s teacher(s) will be in touch soon with a schedule and meeting link.

As a reminder, please save Halloween costumes and candy for after school.  The PTA is hosting a Halloween costume “playdate” on Friday, after school, in the playground.  We will have two times slots, a 3 - 4:30 PM slot and a 5 - 6:30 PM slot, to do our best to include kids who can only meet right after school and kids who attend aftercare. 

Next Tuesday, November 2nd, is Election Day and a remote day for all children.  Teachers will assign students asynchronous work.  You can still request a device here if your child needs one. 

It finally feels like Fall.  Please make sure your child has all the necessary accessories (hat, scarf, mittens, and coat) to stay warm and active; it’s crucial children come to school prepared to play outside as temperatures drop.  Please also remember that we keep windows open all year round to ensure proper classroom ventilation, and it can get cold!  

Finally, it looks like we are getting a lot of rain tomorrow.  Please ensure your child has proper rain gear since we will line up outside for arrival and dismissal.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of October 12, 2021

Dear Families,

I hope that you enjoyed the long weekend and are doing well. 

Yesterday was Indigenous Peoples’ Day -- a holiday dedicated to highlighting indigenous peoples’ cultures and suppressed histories. Indigenous Peoples’ Day emerged as a direct challenge to the narratives that undergird Columbus Day—the federal holiday used to celebrate Christopher Columbus’ purported “discovery of America.”  Teachers are having conversations with students about the history of Columbus and Indigenous People’s experiences.  We want children to process and express their thoughts and feelings about this complex and challenging topic.  I am sharing a resource, “Here’s How You Can Talk About Christopher Columbus in Your Classroom,” because I think it may be helpful for families navigating follow-up discussions.  Remember to listen and give children a chance to talk, process, and play out their thinking without interruption.  When we react by interrupting or judging that something is wrong, the message children get is, “I shouldn’t talk about this.”  Instead, we want to show children that it is safe to talk to and play in front of adults, and that way, we open the doors for communication.  Please reach out directly to your child’s teacher if you have questions.

The School Leadership Team (SLT) will meet on Wednesday, October 13, at 3 pm.  The SLT is a committee made up of elected parents and teachers, and me.  We write, revise, and disseminate school policies.  Monthly meetings are for the School Leadership Team Representatives and are open to all.  Here is the meeting link.

Community Board 3 is holding a meeting to discuss our students’ access to the McKinley playground on Thursday, October 14, at 6:30 pm.  Please come to advocate for our children’s use of the playground during the school day.  

Online:  https://zoom.us/j/97669441619

By Phone:  +1 646 518 9805, +1 929 205 6099

Meeting ID:  976 6944 1619

Have a good week,

Dyanthe

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