After noting the first documented case of covid-19 in the NYC area the week of March 2nd, 2020, staff prepared to shift online, hoping that we would reunite by the end of the school year. While our reunion dreams were dashed, we managed to fill the 15 weeks on distance-school that followed with games, classes, art-making, meals “together,” and even some karaoke! It wasn’t how we had hoped to end the year, but we did the best we could with what we had.
Then we spent that July doing some serious independent study, keeping up with directives from the state, comparing plans from other organizations, and finally drafting and publishing our own plan. You can download the most recent version:
If we say so ourselves, our original Covid Resources webpage still has some decent resources, too.
We’re aiming to start the year with both on-site and off-site options, hopefully shifting back to having everyone together by early 2022. Masks, symptom checks, and other precautions will definitely still be part of our operations. “Cohorting,” or organizing into smaller groups that don’t mix and that alternate using the physical space, as well as preparations to return to exclusively off-site programming, will hopefully not be necessary but will be prepared as options for risk management in the event that the city positivity rate surges again with the return of the cold weather and the arrival of new variants.
We’ll update this page with our official plan in June of 2021, once we have updated guidance from the local health and education officials. We will, as always, aim to work with members of our community to figure out how to best meet folks varied needs with the resources we have without compromising safety.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
What does school look like this year?
Starting September 9th, 2020, we resumed online school, taking those first 3 days to discuss with kids what their goals are, what kinds of classes to offer for the fall, and what kinds of resources they need.
We have kept online content available through the year for those, staff and students, for whom the virtual option is safer. Via post and text communication, we sometimes share non-Zoom distance activities together to offer as well.
As conditions allow, facilitators have organized with families for smaller groups of enrolled students to meet up offline, masked and outside, so long as weather permits. The above plan outlines the conditions that have to be met for these gatherings to begin, as well as the kinds of conditions that will send us all back online. We hope to get to return to using the school space at some point, though we expect to have to limit such activity for most of the year.
Last year we ran through scheduled breaks so kids would have activities and social time while things were so intense. We’ve worked with parents as the year progressed to determine what kinds of holiday classes and quarantining we need to keep each other safe.
What safety precautions are you taking?
We’ve been following the information put out by the city government, state government, CDC, WHO, and researchers with relevant expertise. We will continue to do so through the year.
Our video calls are end-to-end encrypted and password protected. Usual community agreements around respecting each other and navigating conflict remain in effect. Video call participants are encouraged to use virtual backgrounds or keep their cameras off if they feel more comfortable doing so, and we will continue to make use of the opportunity to discuss staying safe online.
Symptom checker surveys must be submitted before all in-person meet-ups. Those who have symptoms of covid or have come in contact with a covid+ person must notify their pod and self-isolate. We will use PPE, distancing, and sanitizing diligently.
While operating outdoors, staff will pack first aid and other supplies based on what we know from farmwork with kids, adventure playgrounds, boats, Red Cross training, hiking adventures, and from experiences shared with us by our friends: https://www.self-directed.org/tp/outdoor-sde/
Can my homeschooled kid drop in? Can my enrolled student still get into college or prep for SAT, AP, and TASC tests? Can we pay less tuition since you can’t be our 9-5 childcare option like before?
2020: a year of questions!
The college and testing landscapes are shifting. We don’t know which tests will matter come spring! Staff are glad to help kids map out their plans, study, and practice for their goals…but our advice for most kids right now is to avoid stressing details. If they build transferable skills and stay curious, then we can cover specifics as it’s clearer which specific specifics they’ll need.
We always offer sliding scale tuition. That said, our staff will, aside from updating this website, be running classes online, meet ups offline, calls with parents, cleaning the space, distributing supplies, checking in on kids, and keeping up to date on emerging data. We would rather be in the space with the kids if we could do so safely, but doing different labor doesn’t mean we’re doing less labor. Honestly, it seems we’ll be doing more…and we want to! But we need your support <3