COVID Testing Update

From Mr. Ryan:

As part of New York City’s ongoing effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, and ensure the health and safety of our community, COVID-19 testing of staff and students will be conducted in our school once a month from now through the end of the school year. We have been notified that the testing provider will be at our school within the next week. Please note that only New York City public school students from grades 1-12 are eligible to be tested.  Only a small percentage of students will be tested.  These students are chosen randomly by the testing staff.

As the September 29, 2020 letter co-signed by NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, Executive Director Ted Long of New York City Test Trace Corps, and Dr. Dave Chokshi, Commissioner of NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene stated, the test is easy, quick, and safe. A “short swab” (similar to a Q-tip) will be inserted into the front part of the nose for five to ten seconds. Later this school year, it is possible that tests will be administered by collecting a small amount of saliva (spit).

Thanks to all the families who submitted a paper consent form and those who have already consented on line.  Only students who submitted consent forms (either paper or on line) are eligible to be tested.  If you have not consented yet, you can do so on line at this link: schools.nyc.gov/covidtesting. Your child will not be tested if they are uncomfortable or become distressed at any point during the process. If that happens, we will work with you to address any potential concerns so that your child is comfortable participating in future testing.

If your child is tested at school, information about the testing process, and when and how you will receive the results, will be sent home with your child. The majority of all testing results will be available within 48 hours. If your child tests positive for COVID-19, the testing provider will notify you via a telephone call, and NYC Test & Trace Corps will call to provide your family with resources and support.

If any member of the school community tests positive during this testing process, our school community will continue to follow the guidelines outlined on the Health & Safety section of the website.

We deeply appreciate your partnership and your commitment to keeping your school community safe and healthy.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

From Mr. Ryan:

Next Thursday evening 11/12 from 5:00 – 7:30 PM, and Friday afternoon 11/13 from 12:30 – 3:00, PPAS Teachers will be available for Parent Teacher Conferences.

On Monday, we will be sending you instructions on how to sign up for virtual meetings with your child’s teachers.

IMPORTANT:  We will not have enough spaces in our schedule of Parent-Teacher conferences for all parents in all classes.  Over the two days of conferences, teachers will have 50 slots (some teachers have over 100 students). Teachers will be specifically inviting some parents where they feel a meeting is necessary, and the remainder of the slots will be filled on a first come – first serve basis.  We recommend that you choose one or two teachers to sign up for, especially if you have specific questions or concerns about the class or if your child is struggling in the class.  If you do not get a slot with a teacher, you can always follow up with them in at a later time by requesting a meeting. 
Again, the instructions for signing up for Parent-Teacher conferences will be sent out on Monday.

2020 Election

From Mr. Ryan:

Tomorrow (or perhaps a few days after tomorrow) when the results of the presidential election are complete, our community members – students, parents, faculty, arts partners – will return to school and work with a degree of emotion. Some of these feelings may be strong, perhaps stronger than we have experienced in any presidential election in the history of our school. It is fully expected, and reflective of our core values at PPAS, that we will practice empathy and treat one another with respect and civility – no matter how much disrespectful or uncivil activity we may observe elsewhere. On many demographic measurements, PPAS is one of the most diverse schools in the city. We pride ourselves in our diversity, and we will continue to support one another in assuring a safe and inclusive space for all community members, regardless of their gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, sexual preference, and political leanings.

For students that are feeling vulnerable, angry, marginalized, or having any emotions that are distracting or upsetting, we will have staff on hand at any time during school hours in the days that follow the election, to talk, or simply to provide some quiet space. This safe space will be the Learning Support Center, room 302, where we will pair students with appropriate support staff or supervise quiet space.

It has been awe inspiring to listen to and observe PPAS students over the last several weeks in their action to support political involvement: get out the vote efforts, discussions clarifying the biggest issues of our time, providing vehicles for student voice. I encourage this activity before and after the election, and look forward to the incredible contributions of our intelligent and talented students!

Link for Remote to Blended

From Mr. Ryan:

As per my email last week, today begins the window in which families can move from fully REMOTE to the BLENDED learning program.  The window is from November 2nd to November 15th.  The DOE announced last week that this will be the only time in the 2020-2021 school year that this change can be made.  

Many parents have asked my opinion about this.  Generally, if the learning program that your child is currently in is working reasonably well, I would recommend that they continue in their current program.  Changing programs will require a schedule change and teacher changes.  At this time of the year, I think such change is disruptive for a student, and may have a negative impact on their learning.  In addition, if many students return to the building in this window, we may face a challenging and disruptive school-wide program change that will effect all students.

Ultimately it is your prerogative to make this choice.  If you are not changing your child’s status, there is no need to do anything. Changes must be made on the survey at the following link:

https://www.nycenet.edu/surveys/learningpreference

Remote to Blended

Today, the NYC DOE announced two very important items related to the window for families to change from fully REMOTE to the BLENDED in-school program:

1)  The dates to complete the survey to change from REMOTE to BLENDED are November 2 to November 15.

2)  NEW: This is the ONLY window that you will be able to make this change for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.

This is new information to all of us.  We had expected there to be two additional (quarterly) windows to make this choice.  The DOE has assessed that multiple windows would create too much change for schools through the year, and has made this the singular window.

It is important that you know a change from one learning modality to the other at PPAS will lead to a change in the student’s schedule and teachers.  It is also important that families understand that if there is a substantially large number of students that move from REMOTE to BLENDED, it may lead to schoolwide program changes that could affect your child’s program even if they do not change their modality.  Also, because 25% of our teachers are working remotely, it is possible that additional BLENDED students will be programmed for fully remote classes, even when reporting to the building. 

It is every families’ prerogative to make a choice between REMOTE and BLENDED learning, but we want to be transparent about some of the challenges that the change could impose.  School wide programming changes will be based on the number of students who move from REMOTE to BLENDED, therefore, we will not have details until very close to the start date for new students joining the BLENDED program – weeks of November 30 or December 7 depending on DOE guidance.

Please email our parent coordinator, Teri Gindi, with your questions.

First COVID Testing Successful

This past Tuesday, October 20th, the COVID 19 testing unit was at PPAS to do its October random testing. The random testing will occur once per month. Twenty four of our students were tested and the majority of our staff members. Parents of student who were tested can check results by accessing their NYCDOE Schools Account. If you have an account, they also email you results. If you don’t have a NYC Schools Account you can set up a new account at this same link. You will need to request an access code from Teri Gindi.

Individual results are not sent to PPAS – we only receive summary data. In the case of a positive result, a COVID tracing team will contact the family by phone, and guide PPAS to next steps. Communication to the entire community will be shared regarding the appropriate response. There is no indication of a positive test at this time.

The test took place on an A day. Future tests will occur on B and C Days. If you want your child to be part of the testing program (and we encourage you to have them participate), but you have not yet consented to the testing program, you can do so in your NYCDOE School Account.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Mr. Ryan directly.

Halloween at PPAS

Because of the spirit of creativity in our community, we have a tradition of allowing students to wear costumes to PPAS for one day in the Halloween season. We want to continue this tradition as it brings joy and unity to our school, and it may be the only opportunity for some students to celebrate the holiday. Below is our plan for this year. This is completely optional for students.

Days to wear a costume:

  • Wednesday, October 28 for A Day
  • Thursday, October 29 for B Day
  • Friday, October 30 for C Day

Rules for wearing a costume:

  • With the exception of the mandated ‘COVID’ mask that covers the mouth and nose, no masks are allowed that cover the entire face or eyes.  We do allow hats and other types of headgear.
  • No makeup that covers the entire face so as to make you unrecognizable is allowed.  Light make up is permissible (cheek/forehead scars, eye-shadow, etc.)
  • No costume that breaks our school dress code, including excessively short shorts or skirts, bare backs, excessive midriffs, or excessive exposure of under garments.
  • No accessories that will qualify as weapons, even if plastic or toy-like:  swords, guns, wands, bats, etc.  If any student has anything like this, it will be confiscated at the door, and may not be returned to you.
  • Do not bring in candy or any food to share with others.

The senior class will be running a virtual costume competition – more details to come on how to submit your pictures. Seniors will also be selling candy – store bought, packaged, and wiped down to maintain COVID safety.

All COVID safety rules will remain in place on these days: COVID mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing routines.