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Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

12.31.21

Dear Families,

I hope you are having a relaxing and restful break. It is heartbreaking that many of us canceled gatherings because of the Ominicrom variant; I know that we were all looking forward to spending time with our loved ones after such a difficult year.  

As we continue to brace for a challenging winter ahead, we are preparing to welcome students back into the classrooms on Monday, January 3. Our highest priority is the health and safety of our children, families, and staff. 

Get tested before returning on January 3

To keep our school community safe when we return to school buildings, I strongly encourage all staff and students to get tested before returning to school on January 3, regardless of their vaccination status. The City continues to offer many free options for testing. In addition, families and staff members can go to any City-run testing sites to pick up readily available at-home rapid test kits. For a list of testing sites, including sites with at-home rapid test kits, call 212-COVID19, visit online at http://nyc.gov/covidtest, text “COVID TEST” to 855-48, or call 311 to find a nearby testing site.   If your child tests positive for COVID, I ask that you complete this form instead of sending me an email.

 

Masks

We ask that all students wear surgical or KN95 masks rather than cloth masks when they return. We have a good supply of surgical masks at school, but if your child is used to wearing a cloth mask, I encourage your child to begin wearing the recommended masks they will need to wear at school starting next week.

 

Increased In-School Testing  

Consent to in-school testing. Parents can complete the online form in their NYC Schools Account or return a signed paper form to the school. On January 3, the program will expand, doubling the number of students tested. Information on testing for students can be found on the DOE website.

 

New Quarantine Policy 

  • Unvaccinated or not yet fully-vaccinated students who are in close proximity to a positive case will no longer have to quarantine and can 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 five days. 

  • In Pre-K, the quarantine policy will remain the same, meaning that any Pre-K student who was in close proximity to a positive case will still have to quarantine for ten days. 

The DoE is not offering remote options for students who test positive or whose families choose to keep them home, but we will be in touch with you if guidance changes. Much of what I have shared is covered in the attached letter from our new Chancellor, David Banks. Please read it carefully and let me know if you have any questions.

We look forward to seeing you and your children on January 3, 2022!

Warm regards,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of December 20, 2021

Dear Families,

We need to prepare to pivot to remote learning as COVID cases continue to increase at an alarming rate across the city and at TNS.  This means that every student needs access to a device.  Please complete this survey as soon as possible if your child needs to borrow a device.  We will distribute Chromebooks Wednesday and Thursday.

I strongly encourage you to get your child tested if you suspect that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive. Frequent testing is our best defense against uncontrolled spread, and vaccination is the best defense against serious illness.  According to the CDC, “studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective, especially at keeping adults and children from getting seriously ill even if they do get COVID-19.” Learn more about the benefits of getting vaccinated. Also, please remember to upload your child’s vaccination information to the DoE portal https://vaccine.schools.nyc/, so the school also has access to this information.

As of today, more than half of our classrooms have had to close or partially close in the last week due to positive cases.  We are currently processing 5 new positive cases.  It is an alarming and challenging end to an exhausting and difficult year.  I very much hope that you can still spend time with your family and friends over the winter break.  I wish for a brighter 2022.  Please stay safe and well.

With Love,

Dyanthe 

Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of December 13, 2021

Dear Families,

I hope that you will be able to attend our PTA meeting tomorrow, December 14 at 6:30 PM.  I will discuss TNS’s approach to “lockdown drills”, share information on quarantine policies for fully vaccinated kids, and the process for applying for Kindergarten for current TNS Pre-K families.  Here’s the meeting link.

I also hope that you will join Cheryl this Wednesday at 7 PM for “Bedtime Stories with Cheryl.”  This is open to TNS kids of all ages.  Here is the meeting link.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe's Weekly Letters

Week of December 6, 2021

Dear Families,

Each morning, when you complete the DoE health screening for your child, you confirm that your child is not experiencing any COVID like symptoms, including:

  • Fever or chills

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headache

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion or runny nose

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Please do not send your child to school if they have any of the above symptoms.  Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.  You can now make an appointment for a free rapid COVID-19 virus test at the Health Department’s COVID Express sites throughout the city. Test results are generally available within 24 hours or less of your visit.  Finally, as the weather grows cold and we spend more time inside, please continue wearing masks when spending time with people outside your immediate household.  

All NYC public schools must practice the protocols they will follow for different kinds of emergencies throughout the school year.  The first is a building evacuation, or “fire drill.” We practice this drill several times throughout the year. Different scenarios would call for a building evacuation, but the most common danger within the building is a fire. The second type of safety protocol we prepare for is a lockdown. During a lockdown, an announcement is made over the PA, and children and staff respond by turning off the lights in classrooms, locking classroom doors, moving out of the sightline of the windows or classroom doors, and maintaining silence until the lockdown has been lifted. This drill prepares for the improbable event of imminent danger inside the building.  Neighborhood School teachers discuss different drill practices with children well ahead of time so that they feel safe.   They communicate that this is our school, and we want to make sure that only people who belong here are here.  We will have an evacuation and lockdown drill this week.   Please contact me or your child’s teacher(s) if you have any questions about any of our school safety drills. 

Warmly,

Dyanthe

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

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