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July-17-2020

The Unity Scoop – July 17

Dear Families of Unity,

I hope that this note finds you and your loved ones healthy, in good spirits, and enjoying the summer.  For me, it has been nice to spend more time with loved ones over the past few weeks, as well as spending time outside to take in the warm weather.

It has also been rejuvenating to step back from the 2019-20 school year, take a deep breath, reflect on the year and all that we experienced, and then resume planning for the 2020-21 school year.  A vast majority of our work over the past two weeks has been devoted to analyzing the feedback provided from our families and staff on their preferences for our return, reviewing state and federal guidelines and best practices for returning to school, and then thinking about our community and what is optimal for students, families, and staff in resuming our all-important collaboration in the fall.

While we are still very much in the planning stages of this preparation and will have concrete plans to report in the coming two weeks, there are five key principles that are guiding our thinking and decision-making that I want to share with you today.

  1. We are prioritizing the well-being and safety of our community and following all state and federal guidelines.
  2. We are building on our recent successes with remote learning, including strong access to learning when remote, strong student attendance and participation, synchronous teaching, and additional academic support for students in need.
  3. We are utilizing our strengths as a school and community, including our small size and ability to adjust to unknowns and our strong relationships with students and families.
  4. We are planning with our most vulnerable students and community members in mind.
  5. We are planning with equity at the forefront of our minds to ensure that our students experience as rich and comprehensive an education as possible.

Again, with these principles in our hearts and our minds, we are devising our reopening plan and will share details in the next edition of the Scoop, during the week of July 27th.

There are a number of updates featured below in this edition of the Scoop, including updates on summer reading clubs, summer assignments, and various resources that may be helpful to our community.

I wish you well in your summer pursuits and look forward to providing updates on our reopening plans in the coming two weeks.

In unity,

Josh Beauregard

Head of School

 

Updates as of July 17, 2020:

  1. Graduates of the Great Class of 2020!:Enjoy a few photos below of our proud graduates with their high school diplomas!
  2. Middle School Summer Book Clubs:Research shows that reading over the summer is the most important way to prevent summer learning loss.  We are excited to launch our book clubs this week!  Teachers will be reaching out to students to share the book title for each club and schedule 4 times to meet over the month of July.  If you have any questions or would like to participate, please contact Ms. Williams at (awilliams@unityprep.org).
  3. High School Summer Assignments and an Opportunity to Earn a Gift Card! According to research, students may lose as much as 2-3 months of learning over the summer, a phenomenon known as “summer slide.”  To prevent this loss, Unity faculty have designed assignments to help students stay sharp in the months of July and August!  Assignments were emailed to students via Jupiter earlier this month.  Completed assignments are due onFriday, August 21st, at 5:00pm.  The first ten students to complete their assignments and email them to Ms. Fuller at cfuller@unityprep.org will receive a $15 e-gift card.  Please email help.hs@unityprep.org with any questions.
  4. Support our Graduates as they Transition to College!:Our academic counselors recently created a GoFundMe campaign that has taken in over $29,000 since June 15th!  Donations will support students in need of financial support as they transition to college.  Our fundraising goal is $35,000.  We aspire to the community school model, in which a school and the community it serves band together to support young people.  Please join us in our efforts by donating whatever you can to support our inaugural graduating class of students.
  5. NYS COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program Will Be Open for Two Weeks!Governor Cuomo recently signed the Emergency Relief Act that created the COVID Rent Relief Program (RRP) which provides up to four months of rental assistance for NYS renters with the greatest rent burden.  NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) has opened the RRP application period on Thursday, July 16 and it will be open for only two weeks.  To learn more about the program and the eligibility criteria, visit  HCR’s website.
  6. Reminder – Chromebooks Return and Care: All students returning to Unity for the 2020-21 school year can continue to use any laptops that were borrowed until further notice. Please continue to keep them safe and in good working condition as we look ahead to the fall.
  7. Reminder -First Day of School for the 2020-21 School Year: Wednesday, September 9th: While we are still awaiting for the New York City Department of Education calendar to be released, we wanted to provide you with the first day of school at Unity in the 2020-21 school year.   The first day of school will be Wednesday, September 9, 2020.  Our full calendar for the 2020-21 school year will be provided during the week of July 27th.
  8. Reminder -Unity to Provide All Students with Laptops Next Fall: As we build on our experiences and plan forward to the coming year, every Unity student in grades 6-12 will be equipped with a laptop computer this coming fall.  We are excited by this move as it will ensure that all students have full access to the technology they need to fully engage in their studies, regardless of whether classes are conducted in-person or remotely.  We will provide additional details on policies and logistics over the summer leading up to the start of the new year.
  9. Reminder –Supply List for the 2020-21 School Year: Supply lists for the 2020-21 school year will be made available in late July via the Scoop and posted on our website.  Stay tuned.
  10. Reminder –Air Conditioning to Select Households in NYC this Summer: If you live with any family members 60 years or older and do not already have an air conditioner, the city is providing free air conditioners. Contact New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) using the information below to find out more:
  • Division: Maintenance Hotline
  • Phone Number: (718) 707-7771
  • Business Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
  • Staff is available at all times to handle emergencies and schedule routine maintenance repairs for Mon – Fri: 6:00 AM – midnight. Automated assistance is also available in Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish.
  • https://portal.311.nyc.gov/article/?kanumber=KA-03305

 

Relevant Information from Past Editions of The Scoop:

Emergency Respite Reimbursement – Funding is available to help families pay for respite services in an emergency situation.  Covered emergencies can include:

  • medical hospitalization and recuperation
  • attending a funeral
  • family member sickness
  • assistance with challenging behaviors

For more information including eligibility requirements, please email: cheryl.jones@yai.org.

Resources Regarding Unemployment Due to COVID-19 – NYC has developed a list of resources for those who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 or are seeking additional assistance. The website will be updated frequently and includes information on employment/unemployment, food assistance, financial assistance, rent arrears, health and medical assistance, and so forth.

Free Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner available for Students and Adults – Any New Yorker, child or adult, has access to three free meals a day at more than 400 Meal Hubs across the city (including PS44), between 7:30am – 11:30am for children and families and from 11:30am to 1:30pm for adults. More details, including a search tool, is available by clicking here.

Resources for Mental Health and Talking to Young People About COVID-19 – The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) has provided this guide for self-care and strategies for talking about COVID-19 honestly and effectively with young people. In addition, here is a link for webinars for “Parenting During COVID-19” through the Weil Cornell Psychiatry Department. If your child or family member is experiencing a mental health crisis, NYC Well is available 24 hours a day and can be accessed by phone (1888-NYC-WELL) or text (text WELL to 65173) or by internet chat via their website: https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.us/en/.  In addition, a mental health hotline has been established in New York City that will provide FREE emotional support, consultation, and referral to a provider. The hotline number is: 1-844-863-9314.

Mental Health Counseling and Social Work Services Available to Unity Students who Receive Counseling – Social workers will continue to hold remote counseling sessions for all students who receive counseling throughout this week.  Please reach out to Ms. Del Purgatorio via phone or text (347-688-9107) or email (tdelpurgatorio@unityprep.org) if you have any questions about the continuation of counseling services or if you are concerned about your child’s mental health. Unity social workers can also be of assistance in providing information regarding social services (for example: housing, access to food, access to community mental health services, referrals to mental health providers, crisis intervention, etc.).

Helpful Guidance on Obtaining the Perfect Book for Your Child – With the Unity Library closed for the time being, our public libraries in Brooklyn offer a vast majority of their books and resources online.  Additionally, many private companies are stepping up and offering their services for free.  Check out this helpful guide to gain access to ebooks or audiobooks from the Brooklyn Public Library.  In addition, see the list of resources below:

  • Do you have dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy, or other reading barriers? Access Bookshare’s free online ebooks.
  • Are you an English Language Learner (ELL) and interested in practicing your English? Are you looking to learn a new language? Rosetta Stone is being offered free for three months to all students.
  • Are you finding it difficult to spend all day looking at a computer screen? Download BeeLine reader for free, which uses color gradients to make reading just a little bit easier.
  • Worried that by spending so much time alone your vocabulary is growing more and more limited by the day? Dictionary.com has free daily activities such as puzzles, quizzes, and a word of the day to keep your vocabulary skills sharp.
  • Want to practice your reading and thinking skills? Scholastic has a remote learning program where you can play games and participate in activities.
  • Try using Newsela, which is an online news-as-literacy platform that features high-interest articles on everything from current events to myths and legends and from literature to science. Follow this link to create an account.
  • Audible is offering free audio books for students. Click here to access a huge selection of audiobooks.

Free Internet at Home – A variety of internet providers are offering free internet  access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have an internet subscription. Internet access at home will be critical for students to complete their remote learning assignments To enroll, call

  • 1-844-579-3743 for Spectrum
  • 1-844-488-8395 for Charter Communications
  • 1- 866-200-9522 for Optimum

Note that Installation fees will be waived for new households.

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