End of Year Guidance – Parent Letter on Summer Reading

Dear Principals,

As the school year comes to an end, I want to thank you again for your leadership during this unprecedented time, and acknowledge some topics that are top of mind for all leaders across the city: budget, summer school, and the re-opening of our school buildings in September.

Mayor de Blasio and I have made no secret that New York City is in a dire fiscal situation, which significantly impacts our public schools. We need federal and New York State financial support to preserve critical functions to support schools and accelerate learning across the City. As deliberations continue and the City moves to adopt a budget, I will share information with you, your superintendents, and borough citywide offices as soon as it is available to help you plan, manage your teams, and make decisions for your school communities. We anticipate some degree of reduction to be unavoidable, but I am committed to minimizing budget cuts to schools and looking for other ways to achieve necessary reductions. I will continue to fight for you every step of the way, and we plan to provide school budgets to you in early July.

As you know, summer learning for students with 12-month Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) will begin on July 2.Students in elementary, middle or high school who are mandated or recommended to attend summer school will begin on July 6. We have prepared our system to serve up to 177,000 students during Summer School 2020. Detailed guidance on summer school budgets, recommending students, class sizes, and professional learning was shared with principals via Principals Digest and in the Summer School 2020 FAQs. As noted in the June 17 edition of Principals Digest, the DOE will use iLearnNYC as the learning management platform for Summer School 2020. For more information on how to prepare summer school students to access iLearnNYC and for students to access their year-end report cards in TeachHub, see here.

We cannot predict what September will look like. It is our job, at every level, to ensure we are prepared for any eventuality. We are doing exhaustive planning, with our primary concern always being the health and safety of our students, families, and staff.

School re-opening and how we start the 2020-2021 school year is arguably the biggest decision the NYC Department of Education has faced in recent history. As you know, we have been engaging parents, families, and students for their feedback through the Return to School 2020 Survey. We are also seeking employee feedback via a survey released earlier today, and we have established two key advisories, which include principals and superintendents, to offer guidance on reopening plans. I am also engaging in daily conversations with our union partners to ensure we get this right. Before decisions are finalized, we are committed to understanding the concerns and considerations of everyone in our community.

As leaders, it is our shared responsibility to be prepared, flexible, and nimble. Thank you for your continued resilience, leadership in the face of ambiguity and change, and commitment to your school communities.

We will be creating a new section on the family website devoted to sharing school re-opening information and updates throughout the summer. The link will be shared with you when the website has been updated, and we recommend you share that website broadly through your channels and on your school’s website so that parents and families have access to information throughout the summer. We will also continue to send out information to staff throughout the summer as we have more updates to share about September. This includes information we posted today for staff on the COVID-19 Reasonable Accommodations Process for Fall 2020.

I look forward to our next virtual meeting on Thursday, July 2 at 1:00 p.m. during which more updates on these important topics will be shared. Please expect to receive an invite from the Office of the First Deputy Chancellor.

Finally, I want to make you aware of two important student supports we are offering over the summer that I hope you will share with your families:

  •          I am delighted to share that all students and families will have access to a large number of free e-books and audiobooks, for all ages and grade levels, this summer through the Sora app. The Sora app is an e-book reader that students can use to access a large variety of titles using their DOE student login. If you received a DOE-issued iPad, it will automatically have the Sora app installed to access these texts – but you don’t need a DOE-issued device to access it. Everyone can download the app on any device, use your student’s DOE login, and start reading. Please distribute the attached letter with details and instructions on Summer Reading to families.Translated versions of the letter can also be found on the InfoHub. Additional information is available on schools.nyc.gov/summerreading and on the Principals Hub
  •       We have also expanded the College Bridge program to offer each and every graduating senior in the Class of 2020 access to a College Bridge Coach from July through September 2020, as they transition from high school to college. This is a priority for us – and we are so glad this support is available to all of our New York City graduates! Please share this Senior Contact Info Form, Senior Flyer, and “Welcome to College Bridge” video as widely as you can with your students, families, and staff.

For additional important updates on end of year closeout items, please see the Principals Hub including iPad return guidance, archiving Google classrooms, instructions to download stepping up letters and an update on end of year ratings.

Thank you again for your leadership and collaboration.

In unity,

Richard