The Unity Scoop – April 2
Dear Families of Unity,
It’s been an eventful week at Unity! I commend our middle school students and staff on completing the state exams in English Language Arts. And I was delighted by the skating trip and awards ceremony that took place yesterday. Congratulations to our awardees and thank you to our families who took part!
I also commend our high school students for resuming regular classes following last weeks’ midterm exams. And I am excited for our students who took part in our college trips yesterday and the inspiration and reflection they provided for our participating students. A special thank you to Mr. Gonzalez for organizing the trip and to our staff chaperones for supporting our students in the experience!
In this edition of The Unity Scoop, I offer an abundance of updates, events, and noteworthy moments over the course of the past week. Please take five minutes to review and appreciate all that is happening in support of students and their education!
Best wishes this weekend!
Head of School / Co-founder
Updates as of April 2, 2022:
1. New – Congratulations to our Middle School Trimester 2 Awardees: Thank you to our families who attended last night’s Awards Ceremony. Over 100 middle school students were recognized for their achievements in Trimester 2. In case you missed the event, here is the recording. We look forward to celebrating our students’ accomplishments in Trimester 3 with you in the coming months!
2. New – Unity Middle School Students Enjoy Some Skating in Prospect Park!: After completing their ELA state exams this week, students celebrated in style by ice skating in Prospect Park!
3. New – Unity High Students Holds its 6th Annual Career Fair!: Unity’s longest standing tradition – our Annual Career Fair – took place on March 25th. We welcomed 32 professionals from careers ranging from legal services to real estate development, and fashion to medical research, as they shared stories and information with Unity High students about their lives, career paths, and current work. Amongst the guest speakers was Horatio Johnson, from Unity’s Class of 2020. He is now working as an Emergency Medical Technician and completing his degree at CUNY John Jay College. This year’s Career Fair brought back wonderful memories of years past, and helped remind us that such experiences are key to helping connect students with powerful, meaningful engagement with the community.
4. New – Unity High Students Take Part is Sip & Paint with Ms. Jaquez!: Students had the opportunity this past week to enjoy time with one another and teachers while letting their artistic talents shine!
5. New – Unity High Students Travel to Philadelphia to Tour Two College Campuses!: Approximately 40 of our high school students traveled to Philadelphia this past week to visit Villanova University and Lehigh University. Thank you to Mr. Gonzalez for organizing and to our staff who served as chaperones!
6. New – Update to Unity’s Mask Policy: Per a letter that was sent out to families today, we will move to adopting the NYCDOE policy of having masks be optional inside our building (the full letter is here). As you know, we decided to continue to require all community members to wear masks inside our school building in March. During this time, we said that we would review data from the city schools that removed the mask requirement and share an update by month’s end.
Having taken this prudent step, we now believe that we can safely move forward with adopting the NYCDOE policy of having masks be optional inside our building. This step aligns with CDC guidance, which we have adhered to throughout the pandemic. This April, both sites will transition to all students and staff having the option of wearing a mask over the course of the school day.
- The change in policy will take effect on Monday, April 4th, at our high school with students learning about the reasons that community members may choose to continue wearing a mask versus not continuing to wear a mask.
- Due to state exams being administered at our middle school this past week, the policy change at our middle school will take effect on Monday, April 11th, in order to effectively prepare for the transition.
Note that we will not hesitate to reactivate our mask requirement if conditions change such that safety is at risk if masks are not worn. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will follow the guidance of health experts when making decisions here.
With this change in policy, I am cautiously optimistic as we move into the spring season and look forward to continuing in our path to engaging with one another as a community as we did prior to the pandemic. At the same time (and also in line with the guidance of health experts and CDC), I continue to strongly encourage you to have your child fully vaccinated if you have not already done so. This is the best step you can take in preventing COVID-19 from negatively impacting your child’s ability to experience school in the best and safest way possible.
7. New – Unity’s Athletic Team Members Awarded with New Sneakers!: Through its partnership with Good Sports, Unity’s Athletic Department recently received free sneakers for our athletic teams, including our volleyball, basketball, and baseball teams. The student-athletes are excited to put the sneakers to good use!
8. New – April 2022 School-wide Calendar: For your family’s convenience, here is a schoolwide calendar of events for the month of April – print it out and throw it on the refrigerator door! It is possible that events could change and new events could be added. An up-to-date events calendar can always be accessed on our website. Notable upcoming events include:
- 4/7: Middle School Accepted Students Welcome Reception
- 4/7: High School Quarter 3 Awards Ceremony
- Grades 6-8: Regular day of classes for middle school students
- Grades 9-12: No classes for high school students (workshop day for staff)
9. Recap – Full Calendar for the Remainder of the 2022-23 School Year: Here is a schoolwide calendar for March through June. As with the March calendar above, print it out and throw it on the refrigerator door! An up-to-date events calendar can always be accessed on our website. We are now working on our calendar for the 2022-23 school year and plan to share it in late April.
10. Recap – Unity’s Step Team Takes 1st Place!: The Unity Queen Steppers earned first place in a competition earlier this month. They beat out four other teams with a score of 370 (just 2 points shy of Grand Champion). Enjoy this short clip of the team as they accept their 1st place trophy! We wish the team well as they now prepare for their next competition in Houston, Texas on March 26th. Continue to make us proud, team!
11. Recap – Free Resources for Unity Families: Unity’s social work team is always looking for resources that may be helpful and of interest to our families. Three such resources are provided below. Reach out to Ms. Del Purgatorio, Unity’s Director of Social Work, with questions.
- The recent events in Ukraine may be a source of stress and anxiety for some children. Below are four resources that may be helpful for families:
- Helping Kids Cope with Frightening News from Child Mind Institute
- How to Talk to Kids About War from verywellfamily.com
- How to Navigate Difficult Conversations with Children from The Relation Station
- How to Talk to Children about War: An Age-by-Age Guide from Today.com
- Below are flyers for lists of low-cost dental providers in each borough:
- Free Child Nutrition Webinar Series: Register for the “An Alarming Rise in Excess Weight and Diabetes in Children: Strategies and Solutions” webinar on Monday, March 7th. The webinar is presented by French-American Aid for Children as part of the new Child Nutrition Webinar series. Parents and educators will learn about practical nutrition tips and accessible information to encourage children to adopt good eating habits in school—and at home—through an interactive dialogue between Dr. Juliana Cohen, nutrition epidemiologist and associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Dr. Ileana Vargas-Rodriguez, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Children’s Hospital of New York. A Q&A session will follow the webinar. Check out previous recordings of past webinars, including:
- Engaging Children in their own Nutritional Journey
- Smart Summer Shopping and Cooking
- Nutrition’s Powerful Impact on Children’s Physical and Mental Health
Relevant Information from Past Editions of The Scoop:
2021-22 School Year Vacation Calendar for Students and other Key Dates: So that you may make plans for the year, with our school schedule in mind, the table below provides the vacation dates for students and families for the 2021-22 school year. Students will not report to school on these dates. Moreover, here are a few important notes regarding next year’s calendar:
Day of Week
|Wednesday||First day of school for students|
|Monday||Indigenous People’s Day, school closed|
|November 2||Tuesday||Election day, remote school day|
|Thursday||Veteran’s Day, school closed|
|November 24 – 26||Wednesday – Friday||Thanksgiving Recess, school closed|
|December 24 – January 3||Friday – Monday
|Winter Recess, school closed|
|Monday||Monday Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, school closed|
|February 21 – 25||Monday – Friday||Midwinter Recess, school closed|
|April 15 – 22||Friday –
|Spring Recess, school closed|
|Memorial Day, school closed|
|June 20||Monday||Juneteenth (observed), school closed|
|June 27||Monday||Last day of school for students|
COVID-19 Vaccines: Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized three COVID-19 vaccines: the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines. The vaccine can prevent COVID-19 symptoms and severe COVID-19 illness. People 5 and older are eligible for the vaccine. Those who are fully vaccinated can more safely gather with friends and enjoy other benefits of vaccination. Many vaccination sites in the city no longer require appointments.
- See a list of sites where you can get a walk-up vaccination today. To find a vaccination site near you, including those that take appointments, use the City’s Vaccine Finder.
- Note, people who are 12 to 17 years old can only receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Mental Health Counseling and Social Work Services at Unity: If you would like to speak to a social worker about your child’s mental health or if you would like your child to receive support from a social worker in school, please reach out to Ms. Del Purgatorio via phone or text (347-688-9107) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Unity social workers can also be of assistance in providing information regarding social services (for example: housing, immigration, access to community mental health services & referrals to mental health providers, food security / access to food, public assistance, crisis intervention, etc.).
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 (1-888-NYC-WELL) or text (text WELL to 65173) or by internet chat via their website: https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.
Update on P-EBT Benefits for Families: New York State is providing Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) food benefits to all households with children who are eligible to receive free school lunch under the National School Lunch Act and whose school was closed or operating with reduced in-school attendance due to COVID-19 during the 2020-2021 academic year. Issuance of the food benefit will continue for several months, due to the large number of eligible children and schools participating in the National School Lunch Program across the state. For additional information visit NYSOTDA P-EBT Benefits Information Page.
- If your child(ren) is eligible and has not received P-EBT benefit by November 2021, you may fill out the P-EBT Information Form.
- If you have misplaced a P-EBT Food Benefit card issued to your child[ren), you may order a replacement card by calling 1-888-328-6399. If your child(ren) received P-EBT benefits on a Medicaid card and you need to order a replacement NYS Medicaid card or select a PIN, go to otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19/P-
EBT-Medicaid-Card-PIN- Instructions.asp for more information.
- Once you have set up a PIN to access your P-EBT food benefits, you can check your family’s P-EBT food benefits balance by visiting www.connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.
Discounts on Home Internet Services Available: If your household is struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a monthly service discount through the Emergency Broadband Benefit. Please visit this information page or call 833-511-0311 for more information.
NYC Rental Assistance Program – The New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is a new program that will provide significant economic relief to help low and moderate-income households at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability by providing rental arrears, temporary rental assistance and utility arrears assistance. If you know of somebody who might be eligible for the program, please encourage them to learn more or apply here.