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AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE

March 18, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Students,

Without question, the current news regarding COVID-19 is both serious and specific and Professional Children's School is closely monitoring the developments and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State and New York City Departments of Health, as well as directives and operational suggestions from both the New York City Department of Education and the State Education Department.

This letter will outline three major points about our plans for the immediate and near future:

            •School will be closed until at least April 20th, following the plan outlined by the NYC
            Public Schools

            •Online (or distance) learning begins March 30th

•Following CDC guidelines to limit group activities of more than 50 people, regardless of the timing for school to reopen, all school    group events are canceled for the next 60 days, through May 15, 2020

In line with the City’s mandate to keep public schools closed until at least April 20th, PCS will abide by that same ruling and we will not consider returning to the school building for any purpose or scheduled event until at least that date; likewise, we will review that date and abide by and pay close attention to further instructions and mandates requiring when school might actually reopen. We will keep the PCS community informed as to those developments and our concomitant plans.

Regardless of whether or not we would be advised to reopen school for our students, faculty and staff as of April 20th, we also intend to comply with the CDC recommendation made on Sunday, March 15th, which advised organizations to avoid any gathering that has the potential for 50 or more people to come together in a common space,  at school or otherwise,  for the next eight weeks, through Friday, May 15, 2020. In line with that recommendation, we will eliminate any and all scheduled events at school or that would have the potential for 50 or more people in a single space.  As such, the following list of events have been cancelled: the PCS Spring Gala, Sophomore College Night, the Pre-ACT on Saturday, April 4,  Parent Conferences at school, the student-faculty basketball game, our Junior/Senior Prom, the Spring Music Assembly,  any and all Admissions Open Houses or outside meetings such as ISAAGNY, HIPAC, and the NYSIAS IT group, and our scheduled Senior Honors Assembly. With the lack of rehearsal and a restriction on group sizes, we would not expect to have our regularly scheduled Drama Production in mid-May. We will, of course, revise this list as further restrictions and recommendations are announced.

We will not be returning to PCS for classes on Monday March 30, 2020. Effective that Monday, March 30, we will commence with our COVID-19 closure plan, outlined below, wherein teaching and learning will take place away from the school building.

COVID-19 Closure Plan

When we need to close, we will expect the student and faculty community to continue interacting with classes on a daily basis.  More specifically, here are the plans for each week we must be closed:

  • Monday and Wednesday: Online classes during regularly scheduled time (via Google Hangouts Meet)*
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays: Open office hours for review of material and questions from students**
  • Fridays: Faculty workday and opportunity to schedule additional individual appointments 

*Those who have classes that do not fall on Monday/Wednesday will coordinate with their teacher as to which day your class will meet online during your typical class time, sharing this arrangement with your students and the Division Heads.

**As they will be missed on Wednesdays, those with 1st and 2nd period classes will also meet for online classes on Thursday.

Student absences from online class due to illness or professional obligations must be communicated to the attendance office to be excused, and any extensions with work not completed each week must be approved by the teacher.

As a reminder, all electronic communication between students and faculty should be done via PCS issued email addresses.

We will be assessing this plan over the course of our first week back, as well as during subsequent weeks, and we will be looking for feedback from students, families, and faculty such that the academic administrators can plan to respond to that feedback with any updates or changes as we engage in this plan for the foreseeable future.

These are indeed challenging times for all of our students and for all of our families, including the families of our faculty and staff. First and foremost, we want to keep everyone in this community safe and avoid illness as much as we possibly can. Second, we will continue to follow the expert advice of the various health agencies and the State and City Education departments. PCS is fortunate enough to have systems in place that will allow us to continue to teach and allow our students to continue to learn during these most unusual times.

We recognize the particular challenges for the Class of 2020 as you navigate through these final months of your high school career; we will work tirelessly to make this final period of time both educationally valuable and personally fulfilling in every way that we can. However, keeping you safe and well is our first and foremost responsibility and that is central to your parents’ choice to entrust you to us. We will work to make sure that your final months have meaning and resonance and we stand ready to find mechanisms to both salute and support you as you finish up your final semester with us.

For all members of the PCS community, I extend my heartfelt best wishes that you remain safe, surrounded by family and friends, and I remind you, even at a distance, that we remain connected and bound by our sense of common purpose and our clear mission to support and affirm the remarkable young people entrusted to us.

I will be in touch periodically to provide updates  as the situation develops  further over the next few weeks and months.

These difficult days will pass but, for now, we accept the challenge and we look forward to making these next few weeks and months a time of growth, of learning, and of community.  As is always true for PCS, we’ll see our work together during these challenging days as a real beacon of light, filled with our belief in that special place in our lives called hope, and filled with certainty that the future is still one filled with endless possibility.

Sincerely yours,

James Dawson
Head of School