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The Unity Scoop – April 1, 2020

Dear Students and Families of Unity,

I hope this note finds you in continued good health and care as we reach the midpoint of the week.  As I mentioned in Monday’s Scoop, it is important to underline that we are in this together and that we are here for you.  Please do not hesitate to reach out should challenges arise and you believe that we can be of help.

In this edition of The Scoop, I offer two new updates along with a number of reminders that are still relevant to our community.  As a reminder, the Daily Scoop is posted on our homepage at unityprep.org.  If you have questions, concerns, and/or ideas in response to any update, don’t hesitate to respond to this note by email.  A Unity staff member will be in touch at their earliest convenience.

Updates as of April 1, 2020

1. New – Zoom Logins Have Been Modified: For security purposes, the settings for Zoom Instruction for classes at Unity have been updated to require students to login using their @unityprep.org email address. If any students have trouble accessing their Zoom account or their Zoom classes, please send a Jupiter message or email to Mr. Doscher.

2. New – Update on Spring Break: Yesterday afternoon, Governor Cuomo reportedly announced a mandate that all public schools continue in their remote learning services through spring breaks scheduled in April.  We are now awaiting further guidance from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) on what this means for our operations during the week of April 13th. Remote classes will not be in session on Thursday, April 9th and Friday, April 10th.  We will reach out to Unity caregivers and students about the week of April 13th within 24 hours of receiving updated guidance from NYSED and NYCDOE.

3. Updated as of April 1st (see updates in green below) – Resources for Mental Health and Talking to Young People About COVID-19: Feeling anxiety amid a global pandemic is normal and natural for everyone.  As adults, it is critical that we care for our own mental and physical health, and that will help us to better support our young people. 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. The webinars are free, held in the evenings, and open to any parent looking to learn more about how to manage and cope with these stressful times.  The schedule for webinars are as follows:

  • Wed. 4/1: Parenting Strategies for Challenging Times
  • Thurs. 4/2: Creating Structure During Unstructured Times
  • Mon. 4/6: Incorporating Validation into Parenting
  • Tues. 4/7: Coping and Conflict Management
  • Wed. 4/8: Making Meaning of Difficult Times

4. Reminder – Materials to Engage in Remote Learning – Communication and Support Moving Forward: Students should now have access to the resources and materials to engage in remote learning.  Moving forward, here is some helpful information for you:

Unity Middle School:

  • Assignments for Friday, 3/27, and beyond will be posted to student’s Google Classroom accounts.
  • Spectrum is offering free internet for households with grades K-12 students; caregivers should call 1-844-579-3743 or 1-844-488-8395 to sign up.  Alternatively, Optimum is offering Altice Advantage broadband free at home – call 1- 866-200-9522 to sign up.
  • For families receiving new technology in the mail, please be aware that you will need to sign for the package when it arrives.
  • If you have questions concerning middle school materials or technology, contact Darline Charles via Jupiter, email at dcharles@unityprep.org, or 347-687-3650.

Unity High School:

  • Students have received invitations in Jupiter with links to their virtual classrooms. Links for class will remain posted in Google classroom. Students may also access the link by returning to their teacher’s initial email in their message log.
  • Spectrum is offering free internet for households with grades K-12 students; caregivers should call 1-844-579-3743 or 1-844-488-8395 to sign up.  Alternatively, Optimum is offering Altice Advantage broadband free at home – call 1- 866-200-9522 to sign up.
  • If you have questions concerning high school materials, including laptops, contact UPHS by emailing help.hs@unityprep.org or calling the main office at 718-682-3725. Please note that during this time, reaching the main office by phone will be limited and email is preferred.

5. Reminder – Remote Learning at Unity – Communication and Support Moving Forward: Here are important updates that you need to know to engage in remote learning:

Middle School:

  • Students should continue to log into their Google Classroom and Zoom meetings for each class.
  • Jupiter messages were sent out on Friday, March 27th with your child’s updated schedule and log-in information for enrichment, PE/Dance, and intervention.
  • If you have technical questions or other concerns, please reach out to your child’s advisor.  If they don’t have an answer for you, they will be able to share your question with the appropriate staff member.
  • Here is what you need to know about grading:
    • Students should submit work by 2 PM each day.
    • Students will receive one daily participation grade for completing their work for each class.
    • If students submit work late, they can still receive full credit for their work.  Teachers will update the grade within 24 hours of receiving the completed work.
  • Attendance for each class will be based on completing the assignment for that class period.  Work is due at 3 PM each day beginning today.

High School:

  • Continue to check your Jupiter messages each evening for details on your child’s schedule, teacher contact information, and Google Classroom log-ins.
  • For each class, students should go to their Google Classroom prior to the start of class and use the links in Google Classroom to open the Zoom meeting for their class and any class materials.  We encourage all students to have all platforms open 5 minutes before the class start time to ensure that they are able to start learning at the beginning of class.
  • Reach out to your child’s teachers via the contact information provided if you have questions during class time.
  • Here is what you need to know about grading:
    • Each week. students will be assessed using the following:
      • At least one classwork assignment per session
      • One homework assignment per week
      • At least one assessment per week (includes quizzes)
    • Homework is due by 11:59 PM the night prior to the next session
    • All classwork, whether student attends live class or not, is due by 11:59 PM on the day of session
    • Students who attend all sessions during the week in any given course will receive a “bonus” in that course
      • Example:
        • Student attends 2 out of 3 ELA sessions next week – no bonus
        • Student attends 100% of ELA sessions next week – bonus
  • Attendance for each class will be taken in Jupiter. We will send a robocall to inform families when a student misses 1 or more classes on a remote learning day.

6. Reminder – The Scoop will be Disseminated on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Moving Forward: Now that remote learning is underway and important setup information has been distributed, I will move to sending the The Scoop out three days weekly instead of five.  Effective today, The Scoop will be sent out to all families on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only.  Thank you for continuing to stay informed by taking time to review announcements, updates, and reminders in The Scoop.

7. Reminder – No Updates as of April 1st – Decisions to Frequently Asked Questions: A number of frequently asked questions, such as those listed below, have come up.  We are still seeking guidance on these important topics from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE).  For other school-based questions, we will be in touch with families as soon as decisions are made.  As always, our decisions are guided by our school mission and what is best for the safety and well-being of our school community.

  • Will we be returning to school for live instruction on April 20th?  At this time, we have no updates for you – we are awaiting guidance from the NYSED and NYCDOE and will be in touch within 24 hours of receiving updated guidance.
  • Are Regents exams being administered in June?  At this time, we have no updates for you – we are awaiting guidance from the NYSED and NYCDOE and will be in touch within 24 hours of receiving updated guidance.
  • What is the plan for Roundtables?  We are now considering what adjustments we would make to Roundtables in the event of an extended suspension of onsite instruction.  If the suspension of onsite instruction is extended, we will promptly provide an update of our plan for Roundtables.
  • What is the plan for middle school graduation, senior activities, and high school graduation?  We are now considering what adjustments we would make to our graduation festivities in the event of an extended suspension of onsite instruction. If the suspension of onsite instruction is extended, we will promptly provide an update of our plan for graduation festivities.

8. Reminder – Mental Health Counseling and Social Work Services Available to Unity Students who Receive Counseling:  If your child receives counseling, you will hear from their counselor in the next few days to coordinate services and identify needs.  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/.  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 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.).  Update as of March 26th: 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.

9. Reminder – Free Breakfast and Lunch Grab-and-Go Meals are Available at All NYCDOE Public Schools: Unity students may go to any NYCDOE school building (including PS44) between 7:30am – 1:30pm today and until further notice to pick up a bagged breakfast and bagged lunch for free.  Here are a few additional updates:

  • Grab and go meals are available at 439 sites – see the list of sites here.  Use this tool to find a location near you.
  • Students will only be able to pick up one day’s worth of meals (one breakfast and two lunch meals).  Parents and guardians may pick up meals for their children.

10. Reminder – 2020 Grades 3-8 State Testing is Cancelled: The New York State Education Department announced recently that state testing for grades 3-8 are cancelled.  This means that our students in grades 6-8 will not sit for their English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science state exams this year.  Additional details on how we plan to assess and celebrate our middle school students’ academic growth and successes this year is forthcoming.

11. Reminder – Tutorial on Using Zoom, Our Remote Classroom Platform: This helpful tutorial provides helpful information on the video conferencing application we are using while teaching remotely, including what you need to use Zoom, how you download it, how you can join a meeting, and what tools are available.

12. Reminder – 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.

13. Reminder – Supplemental Resources to Continue Your Child’s Learning at Home: Between now and the launch of remoting learning, we encourage you to support your child at home in keeping their academic skills fresh.  The NYCDOE’s Learn at Home site provides learning resources to students to complete while they are receiving instruction.  It is important that students continue to read, write, complete social studies and science activities, and work on math problems.  The materials are organized by grade level and include the following:

  • Suggested daily study schedules
  • Guides and materials for instructional activities
  • Recommended educational television shows
  • Links to a variety of books, magazines, and websites on a wide range of topics that appeal to children at all ages

14. Reminder – Extension of Remote Learning through April 20th: Unity will extend its suspension of all onsite educational programming, including extra-curricular events, through April 20th.  This timeline and plan aligns with the NYC Department of Education’s plan, as announced yesterday for all of its schools.  Students will not report to our middle and high school sites for instruction during this time.

15. Reminder – 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.

In unity,

Josh Beauregard
Head of School / Co-founder

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