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Dear WMS Community,
We were saddened to hear that the NYC public schools will eliminate all physical presence beginning today, with no clear re-opening date. We understand some of the special issues a large system like new York’s faces, with over 1 million children to educate, many physical plants difficult to make safe in this pandemic era, as well as a somewhat arbitrary insistence that a 3% seven day infection rate would trigger closing.
As the American Academy of Pediatrics notes and we fully believe: “Children learn best when physically present in the classroom. But children get much more than academics at school. They also learn social and emotional skills at school, get healthy meals and exercise, mental health support and other services that cannot be easily replicated online.”
We are acutely aware of the enormous benefits of a child’s physical presence in school and believe, as important as it is for older children, it is even more critical for our young children. If an 11th grader does not learn algebra until the 12th grade, it is a loss but one that is probably reversible. But for our 2-5 year olds, just emerging from the family cocoon, their emotional and social growth can really be stymied if they are not able to physically interact with other children and adults who are not family.
In yesterday’s NYT, Aaron E. Carroll in an article entitled, “Are We Seriously Talking About Closing ‘Schools Again?” makes the following points:
WMS is laser focused on providing a safe environment for our children and staff and has fully embraced the protocols Carroll writes about. In addition, we along with a number of other schools, have adopted rigorous testing and tracking procedures to head off any possible spread of the virus in the school community. And, as testing protocols improve, we are constantly checking to see if we can do better.
Please understand that while the physical presence of the children in school is so important, we would never, if pandemic conditions worsen, hesitate for one minute to go to all remote learning. We need our teachers to remain safe and to feel safe, as well as our school families. We do not believe that this unhappy point of closure has yet been reached, and will stay vigilant to keep us in school as long as possible.
With appreciation for each of you,
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