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The Unity Scoop – April 6, 2020

Dear Students and Families of Unity,

I hope this note finds you in continued good health and safety.  We are now in our third week of remote learning and I want to thank everyone for their care and courage through these challenging times.

For this week, the school schedule at each campus is as follows:

Unity Middle School:

  • Monday (4/6) to Wednesday (4/8) – normal remote learning schedule for all students
  • Thursday (4/9) to Friday (4/10) – no classes
  • Monday (4/13) to Friday (4/17) – independent assignments only – live, virtual classes will not take place

Unity High School:

  • Monday (4/6) to Tuesday (4/7) – normal remote learning schedule for all students
  • Wednesday (4/8) — Community Meetings for Students and Families (invitations will be sent via Jupiter)
  • Thursday (4/9) to Friday (4/10) – independent assignments only – live, virtual classes will not take place

In this edition of The Scoop, I offer two new updates, including information on the extension of remote learning through April 29th and the cancellation of June Regents exams.  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 6, 2020

1. New – Independent Assignments and Practice through April 17th: Starting on Thursday, April 9th, at the middle school and on Wednesday, April 8th, at the high school, we will not hold live virtual classes. This pause in virtual classes will continue through April 17th.  Instead, students will have assignments that they are expected to complete on their own during this time. Teachers will be available to answer questions via email during this time period.  Here are the details on assignments for our middle school students and high school students:

Middle School:

  • Students should continue to log into their Google Classroom to see their work for each class.
  • If your child has questions about their work, they should reach out to their teacher via Jupiter.  Teachers will respond to questions from students within 24 hours during the week of 4/13.

High School:

  • Students will have assignments in math, ELA, history, and science classes. Students will have approximately one hour of work per class.
  • Students may access their assignments via their Google Classroom accounts. This will send students to Albert.io to complete assignments.
  • Students must also sign up for Albert.io. Invitations are in students’ Unity email accounts.
  • Please feel free to reach out to your child’s teachers directly if you have questions during class time.
  • Assignments will be graded and are due by 11:59 PM on Sunday, 4/19.

2. Updated as of April 6th – Zoom Logins Have Been Modified: Unity staff have reviewed the security features in Zoom and will continue using it for instruction. The settings for Zoom Instruction for classes at Unity have been updated to ensure our classes remain secure:

  • Students are required to login using their @unityprep.org email address
  • Students must enter a waiting room before entering the class and be admitted by the teacher
  • Students will not be able to change their names nor use nicknames in the Zoom software

If any students have trouble accessing their Zoom account or their Zoom classes, please send a Jupiter message or email to Mr. Doscher.

3. Updated as of April 6th (updates are in green below) – Decisions to Frequently Asked Questions: A number of frequently asked questions, such as those listed below, have recently 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?

Unity will extend its suspension of all onsite educational programming, including extra-curricular events, through April 29th.  This timeline and plan aligns with the NYC Department of Education’s plan, as announced today by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Board of Regents.  Students will not report to our middle and high school sites for instruction during this time.

  • Are Regents exams being administered in June?

At today’s New York State Board of Regents meeting, the Regents announced that the Spring Regents Examinations will be canceled.  The State Education Department will issue more guidance about this change tomorrow.  We will provide more information to our families as we receive it.

  • 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.

4. Reminder – Resources Regarding Unemployment Due to COVID-19: Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on New York City’s workforce, the City of New York 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.

5. Reminder – 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.

6. Reminder – NYC School Survey & $50 Seamless Gift Card: The NYC School Survey, administered every year to students, caregivers, and teachers, is due on Wednesday April 8th. The survey helps school leaders understand what key members of their school community think about the learning environment at their school. Your participation helps make Unity a better place for all of our students.  All caregivers who take the NYC School Survey and text a screenshot of the “survey completed” screen to Mr. Doscher at 347-746-1575 will be entered in a raffle for a $50 Seamless gift certificate! Click here to take the survey and email Mr. Doscher if you need access to your survey code.

7. Reminder – 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

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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

12. 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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