July 24, 2020 message from Mr. Dotoli

July 24, 2020 message from Mr. Dotoli


Dear Families,

I hope you are staying safe and healthy, with as much opportunity as possible for the parts of summer that you typically enjoy.

Our Fall Learning Plan: After consulting with families, teachers, and administrators, we have determined that the best way to ensure a safe and productive school program includes having as many students as possible learning from home this fall. This is a hard decision as we know it means the continuation of burdens on families that no one could have anticipated or would want to impose. We wish the data were telling us to do something differently. However, we think it's the right decision because it will allow us to safely open school for a small group of students who most need on-campus supervision and will allow most of our team to focus on planning for consistently strong remote learning. Key points:

  • All Harlem Academy instruction will take place online from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. with a focus on ensuring that live lessons in core content areas are engaging and productive. Teachers will also have dedicated time for academic support and advisory, including class meetings, small group gatherings, and individual mentoring. Flex blocks will be incorporated into the schedule when students can engage in differentiated instruction, participate in elective activities, and take breaks.
  • Teachers will connect with all students and parents as we get closer to the start of the year to make sure they are ready to go with their technology, workspace, schedule, books, and support materials.  (A package of grade-specific books and support materials will be prepared for each student, and technology needs will be supported.)
  • Family partnership, including orientation, fall meetings, celebrations of learning, and secondary school placement, will take place virtually for all students
  • The school building will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the small team of teachers, administrators, and students whose circumstances require them to be at school. At this point, we hope to accommodate all families who require this on campus supervision for five days per week.  However if more families need these services than we anticipate based on our last survey, then we will adapt the schedule accordingly.  Additionally, all families and students attending in person will need to commit to working within the designated hours and to following all procedures as required by the school, the Department of Health, and the Department of Education. A more detailed document will be provided in August, but safety measures at school will include:
    • Everyone wearing masks throughout the day unless they are taking part in a scheduled mask break in a space that allows for it
    • Desks six feet apart and facing the same direction
    • Students and teachers separated into two pods, each with a classroom, auxiliary room, and pair of bathrooms
    • Facility upgrades/additions to air filtration, hand sanitizers, and soap dispensers
    • Limited building access to students and staff only, with temperature and wellness screening before entering and additional questionnaires per requirements
    • All surfaces disinfected once during the day with a complete deep cleaning every evening.

Here is a link to a short survey for you to select the best fit for your family’s circumstances. Please complete the survey by Tuesday, July 28.

Our hope is to maintain this structure for at least the fall trimester. Families can always contact us about changes in their circumstances, and we will try to accommodate as best we can but with everyone understanding that safety will always be the priority.  If circumstances allow us to add opportunities for whole classes to regularly or periodically gather on or off campus, we would love to do that as we know how valuable such programming could be to overall wellness, but we will proceed slowly and cautiously. Conversely, we also have to be prepared to go quickly to a full remote model if circumstances require that.

Ms. Davis, the whole team, and I are doing our best to stay in communication with you.  I am thankful to all our parents for thoughtfulness in responding to our formal requests for survey information, for staying in touch generally, and for always thinking about the way we can best work together as a community toward the strongest realization of our mission.

Please complete the survey as soon as you have had a chance to discuss it as a family, and best wishes for the weekend.

In partnership always,

P.S. For anyone who would like to ask any questions or talk through the plans before filling out your survey, I also wanted to host a Zoom Meeting on Monday, July 27 (12:30 to 1:15 p.m.).  Of course, you are also welcome to reach out to LaShonda or me anytime via email, but we thought adding a meeting might be helpful for some.  An invitation with log-in information will follow.

+ July 25, 2020

First off, thanks to everyone who has already filled out the short survey regarding your choice and feedback related to fall learning.

If you have yet to take the survey and know what will work for your family, please fill it out as soon as possible and definitely by Tuesday: short survey  

Additionally, for anyone who wants to get questions answered on Monday at 12:30 p. m., here is our Zoom meeting information:

Finally, I can always take questions via email if that is more helpful.

Enjoy the day, and thanks again for your partnership.