PS 397 News Feed
490 Fenimore St, Brooklyn, NY 11203, USA
PS 397 families,
We want to thank families that were able to attend the information sessions of PS 397’s reopening plans. As discussed, this is our in person schedule.
August 17, 2020: Updates for Families
In good times and in challenging times, I know that you want the best for your children. You want them to be safe, healthy, and happy. And you want them to always be learning, growing, and getting ready to take on the world. Our schools play such an important role in that, especially now, when the children of our city have been through so much.
For us, health and safety always lead the way. Our vision for the fall is a safe, strong, and supportive learning environment and an excellent education for every one of our students. Schools will be in session and students will be learning five days per week—no matter where they are.
We know a lot more now about how the learning experience is going to work. In this week’s Reopening Update for Families, you will find:
The latest health and safety information, including on ventilation, school nurses, and testing and tracing in schools
How to stay informed on confirmed COVID-19 cases in your school community
How families can change their children’s learning preference to/from fully remote learning
What happens if students attend school in-person on a day they are not scheduled to attend
Supports for students with Individualized Education Programs
Supports for students in temporary housing and foster care
We know that planning for the new school year isn’t easy—for you, for our educators, for school staff, and for our communities. But I believe that by working together we can start the school year strong. I want to acknowledge the tireless work of your principals and school leaders, who have been hustling all summer to be ready for the first day of school.
I also want to thank you. Your partnership has made it possible for us to consider and plan for both in-person and remote learning. Your continued investment and engagement in your school communities is a vital part of ensuring our students’ success not just during this upcoming school year but for years to come. We are privileged to serve you and your children, the young people who not long from now will be the ones leading our city.
If you have questions regarding the information in this letter, please contact your principal. You can find principal contact information by searching for your child’s school on Find a School. Principal information is on each school’s web page in the “School Contacts and Information” section. And as always, all information regarding back to school can be found at schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020.
The Latest Health and Safety Information
For school buildings to open in September and remain open, the city must see fewer than 3 percent of all COVID-19 tests come back positive on a weekly average. Since June, the city positive test rate has been between 1 and 2 percent. We have strict protocols for testing, tracing, and quarantining if there is a confirmed case in school, and we will use every effort to prevent the spread of infection in schools if a student or staff member is feeling sick or has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Many families have questions about ventilation. Our commitment is simple: if a room does not have adequate ventilation, it will not be used by students or staff. We are assessing and performing maintenance in buildings to maximize ventilation with outdoor air to the greatest extent possible. We expect maintenance to be completed by the opening of school.
Finally, this fall, every school building in New York City and all early childhood programs across the city will have access to nurses. Through a partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals, in addition to our established nursing workforce, every student will have access to a qualified nurse every day as we reopen schools safely and continue to stop the spread of COVID-19. Nurses will be in-place by the first day of school.
How to Stay Informed on Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Your School Community
When the school year begins, we want to make sure we can contact you quickly and effectively to share information, including about confirmed COVID-19 cases in your child’s school. Please sign up for a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA) so we can contact you via phone, email, or text message.
Your NYCSA account can also help you find your child’s grades, test scores, schedules, transportation information, and more— from anywhere, and in all nine standard DOE language translations. I encourage you to keep your contact information up to date, so we can get in touch with you in the event of an emergency. If you don’t have an account, sign up today at schools.nyc.gov/nycsa. It only takes five minutes!
How to Change a Child’s Learning Preference to/from Fully Remote Learning
Your school principals, in partnership with district and central administrators, are continuing to develop school-level plans for every public school in New York City. We are currently planning for around three-quarters of our students (over 700,000 students) to begin the school year in a blended learning mode. This means that they’ll learn in-person in a school building part of the school week and continue learning remotely from home for the rest of the week. The remaining families in our DOE community will begin the year in fully remote learning mode.
You can move your child into 100 percent remote learning at any time using the Learning Preference(Open external link) online form. Families who choose 100 percent remote learning can opt back into blended learning on a quarterly basis, beginning in November.
What Happens if Students Attend School In-Person on a Day They are Not Scheduled to Attend
Schools will work closely with families to clearly communicate which days their child will attend school in-person. The DOE encourages you to make alternate childcare arrangements and to build a plan to help ensure that your child does not arrive at school on unscheduled days. If a student arrives at school on days when they are scheduled for remote learning, your child’s school will inform you. All children attending on an unscheduled day will need to be picked up or will be sent home, depending on age and other factors. For more information on policies for students who attend school on a mistaken day, visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 .
Supports for Students with Individualized Education Programs
The DOE will provide students with disabilities access to in-person instruction during blended learning. If your child's IEP recommends related services, you will soon receive a survey where you will be asked to express your preference for in-person or remote therapy. Upon school opening, your child's school will contact you to discuss your child's specific schedule and make every effort to align your request to available services. The DOE will release additional guidance and information for families of students with disabilities shortly.
Supports for Students in Temporary Housing and Foster Care
Students in temporary housing and foster care face unique challenges as a result of COVID-19, including the shift to remote learning. We have been providing additional supports to these students, including ensuring their early receipt of remote learning devices. Any remote learning devices given to students in shelter have cellular capabilities. As possible and appropriate, students in temporary housing and foster care may also receive additional in-person instruction, depending on a school’s programming model, overall student needs, and capacity.
August 3, 2020
I hope you are safe and healthy, and finding some rest and relaxation this summer. As we are approaching the start
of the 2020-21 school year, I want to share some important new information with you about health and safety protocols
in your child’s school—and every school—for the upcoming year.
All schools are preparing for blended learning, during which students learn in-person in school buildings for part of the week,
and continue learning remotely from home on the other days. However, any family can choose 100% remote learning for any
reason. If your preference is 100% remote learning, we ask that you let us know by this Friday, August 7, so that schools have
enough time to plan. Please visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 to fill out a short web form, or call 311.
In this letter you will find:
Criteria to Open Schools and Keep them Open
What Happens if Someone Gets Sick: New Information on COVID-19 Testing and Tracing in Schools
Overall Health and Safety Protocols for Every School Criteria to Open Schools and Keep them Open
While we continue to carefully monitor a constantly changing health landscape, one thing remains steadfast:
our commitment to the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff. This priority is the foundation of
all of our policy moving into September.
On July 31, the Mayor and I announced that for school buildings to open in September and remain open, on a
weekly average the city must see fewer than 3% of all COVID-19 tests come back positive. Additionally, if
3% or more of New Yorkers who are tested for COVID-19 are found to have the virus after we open, school
buildings will close again, and 100% of learning will be remote for every student.
Since June, we’ve hovered around 1-2%, and are working closely with the New York City Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health), NYC Test + Trace, and the Mayor’s Office to prepare for a coordinated
school reopening. If staff and students aren’t healthy, they can’t teach and learn, and we are doing all we can to
ensure that schools remain safe and healthy for learning.
What Happens if Someone Gets Sick: New Information on COVID-19 Testing and Tracing in Schools In close
collaboration with our expert colleagues at NYC Health, we have developed strict protocols that address prevention,
precaution, and response to one or more of our students or employees having a confirmed case of COVID-19. It’s
important to know that a “confirmed case” means that a parent or guardian, student, or staff member submits a
positive test result from a healthcare provider or laboratory—like a City-run testing site, a private doctor, or an
urgent care center—to the school.
Our protocols to keep school communities healthy include:
Prevention: Starting with the first day of the 2020-21
school year, if a student or staff member is feeling sick, they are required to stay home. Additionally, if their symptoms
are consistent with COVID-19, they will be asked to get tested.
Feeling Sick in School: If a student begins experiencing symptoms in school, they will be isolated and monitored
by a school staff member until they are picked up by their parent or guardian. Staff members who become symptomatic
at school must notify administration and immediately leave the building.
Testing: All school staff members are asked to get tested for COVID-19 in the days leading up to the beginning of school,
and will be prioritized for expedited results at the 34 City-run testing sites. All school staff are also asked to get tested monthly
during the school year. This free testing is also available for families citywide.
Tracing: In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case in a school, NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health will investigate to
determine close contacts within the school. All students and teachers in the classroom with the confirmed case are assumed
close contacts and will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure to that case. In older grades
where students may travel between classes, this applies to all classes that the confirmed case was in.
If there's more than one case in a school, and it's not in the same classroom, learning will continue remotely and the school
building will close for at least 24 hours while NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health investigate. Depending on the
outcome of the investigation, affected classrooms or the whole building will remain closed for 14 days for quarantine.
Students will continue their learning remotely during any necessary quarantine periods.
Communication: Whether symptoms begin at home or in school, there will be a clear flow of information to facilitate
fast action and prevent spread. If a COVID-19 case is confirmed, schools will communicate to all families and students at school.
Overall Health and Safety Protocols for Every School Testing and tracing are part of several strict health protocols designed
to keep our school communities healthy. Here are the key things that you and your family should know about NYC Department
of Education (DOE) health and safety practices, policies, and protocols as we re-open our school buildings in September:
At all times, students and staff must wear face coverings protecting their nose and mouth while at school or on their way
to school. Exceptions will be made for children who can’t wear a face covering for medical reasons, and for younger children
who aren’t developmentally able to wear a face covering.
Students and staff must maintain six feet of physical distancing throughout the school day, anywhere on school grounds and to and from school.
Schools will be cleaned throughout the day and disinfected each night, with special attention to high-touch areas.
Face coverings, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies will be readily available in throughout every school.
Every school will have a school-based team ready to respond in the event that there is a health concern in a school. Every sch
Every school will have a designated isolation room for use in the event that a student becomes ill during the school day.
For more details on these and other policies, please visit schools.nyc.gov/returntoschool2020 and click “Health and Safety” for additional information and all the latest updates.
We are approaching reopening by centering health and safety and basing our policies on the expertise of health professionals—period.
I’ve been a public school parent, teacher, and principal, and I know what it feels like to want the best possible education
for your child while ensuring the health and safety of your entire family. We have collectively learned a lot since March—both
about the virus, and about our ability to react and respond to it in real time. That’s why we won’t settle for anything but the strictest
and most rigorous processes for coming back to school.
We will send more information in the coming days and weeks. As always—thank you for being part of the DOE family.
Richard A. Carranza
New York City Department of Education