Newsletter Header Panther Cubs 2020

Lower School Newsletter for April 5, 2020

These are most certainly unforeseen times and ones that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I hope that you all are healthy and safe and are beginning to adjust to life with social distancing and stay at home guidelines. If you are like me, you are experiencing a wide array of emotions, sometimes a bit anxious about all that is going on the world, frustrated or bored due to the restrictions in place, grateful that my family and I are still healthy, saddened by what we all are missing out on, and always trying to see the bright side and to find joy both with my family who is here at home, and virtually with my extended family and friends. The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting us all in so many different ways. I want to again say thank you to the medical professionals, first responders, and all those on the front lines in the battle against this virus. These true heroes and their families deserve tremendous appreciation and support for their sacrifices.

I also want to thank the teachers, staff, students, and families in the NYA community. We were all asked to pivot unexpectedly and to embark on an entirely new approach to teaching and learning. Several people worked tirelessly to prepare a strong foundation for this new learning platform, and Chris Mazzurco and Dave Gagne engaged in herculean efforts to prepare, test, and implement the new technology. Our amazing teachers have been going above and beyond in altering lesson plans, learning new technologies, preparing engaging videos and lessons, and enjoying lively interactions with the children on Zoom. Our students have been remarkably open to experiencing this new type of learning. Despite the need to adjust to the technology (such as the toddlers who do not understand why their teachers on video will not answer their questions!), the students continue to show resilience and to embrace the opportunity to bring school into their homes and to interact virtually with their teachers and peers. Our wonderful parents have been incredibly supportive, assisting their children at home with different schedules, technology, and assignments; patiently dealing with the inevitable technological issues; and reaching out to the faculty and staff with words of encouragement and appreciation. Thank you, all! At times such as these, we find strength and happiness in being part of the amazing community that is NYA.

Marissa Markonish
Head of Lower and Middle Schools


REMOTE LEARNING

We have successfully navigated our way through our first full week with remote learning! Thank you to all of the parents for your flexibility and support throughout this adjustment period. Our teachers have done a phenomenal job and are working hard to provide a “just right” balance for the children to continue to learn and progress without being overwhelmed or tied to a screen for extensive periods throughout the day. We have established different routines for the various age groups, but understand that every child is unique and has his or her own interest level, ability, and stamina for this new style of teaching and learning, especially our youngest learners. We also recognize that every family has different wishes and capacity for assisting with learning at home while balancing working from home, helping and caring for siblings, and running a “stay at home” household. Remaining flexible and open has been, and will continue to be, essential as we work together to support the students in the coming weeks.

Some current and upcoming refinements and enhancements:

  • Toddler: For the families who would like to have more activities, videos, or stories at their disposal, we will be sending out an email each Sunday which will include links to all of the prior week’s materials from the four Toddler teachers as well as read-alouds from some of the Primary teachers. This will be an optional resource for families to utilize as suits their family’s needs. Specials teachers will continue to send out weekly emails with videos, links, and activities as well. Toddler students have already begun or will begin live Zoom meetings this week. Teachers are experimenting with different formats, such as short periods with smaller groups, to see what might work best for this age group. It is helpful for parents to not have any food or toys around during the Zoom session to help the children better focus on their teachers and peers. We also encourage families to make use of the ideas in the NYA Toddler & Primary Learning from Home Guide, such as the suggested schedule, setting up a “work station” for your child, and Montessori activities to try at home.
  • Primary:  The Primary teachers are already sharing their links and activities with all families, along with the weekly emails from Specials teachers, providing a wide range of options for families each day. The teachers are also looking at sprinkling in some extra fun, such as the Fun Friday Photo Challenge. Each Primary classroom has two live Zoom sessions each week, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and the Kindergarten class has a third session on Friday afternoons. This week, we will begin offering optional Zoom meetings on Monday mornings at 9:30 a.m. in Art and on Wednesday mornings at 9:30 a.m. in Movement for our Kindergarten students, providing these students with the option of a Zoom meeting on each school day.
  • Elementary: Teachers are providing students with full-group and one-on-one Zoom meetings, as well as lessons and read-alouds via video and varied independent work assignments. Daily, live morning meetings are an essential part of maintaining connections and setting students up for success each day. With the foundation established by the teachers, students are becoming more comfortable with the new routine, are beginning to get the hang of the technology, and are working toward become increasingly independent. In addition to the weekly Specials emails, students will begin having one afternoon Zoom session in either Art or PE each week.
  • We’ve created a Storytime page on our website, where your may find videos of your child’s teacher reading their favorite stories.
  • Here are some photos from home:
    NYA LS Remote Learning NYA LS Toddler Remote Learning

ZOOM AND OTHER TECHNOLOGY

Thank you again to parents for your patience in dealing with technological issues. The teachers have worked tirelessly to test out all of the links and meeting invitations within our internal network, but unexpected issues are bound to arise when interfacing with different systems. We continue to make changes to find methods that will work for all. Kudos to the teachers for their tenacity at tackling these issues and coming up with innovative solutions. We are also instituting best practices for child safety in our Zoom meetings. All teachers will be utilizing passwords, waiting rooms, and the lock feature in their meetings. You will need to enter the password when trying to join a Zoom meeting and only someone with the password will be able to join in. Once you have selected “Join,” you will be in a “waiting room” until the teacher admits you into the meeting. Teachers will “lock” the meeting five minutes after the start time to prevent anyone else from joining the meeting in progress. Parents should email the teacher in advance if they know their child might be late to the session and can try to contact them via email if they would like to join a meeting that is already underway. If you are encountering repeated technology issues and need support, please contact Chris Mazzurco, Director of Information Technology.

LEARNING COMMONSNYA Learning Commons April 2020

The NYA Learning Commons is looking great! With some additional furniture and books, we hope it will be ready when we’re back in school. Take a tour.

SOCIALIZING AND SELF CARE DURING SOCIAL DISTANCING

It is essential that we continue to abide by social distancing and stay at home mandates. As our “new normal” can lead to feeling isolated and lonely, however, it is important that we find ways for children to take care of themselves and to engage in safe social interaction. A consistent schedule and sleep routine can go a long way in helping to boost wellness and mood. Rather than switching to late nights, sleeping in, and lying around in pajamas all day, institute a school day routine that is similar to what students experienced when they were coming in to school each day. Exercise and outside time are integrated into our usual school schedules, and it is so important that students continue to experience these. Help establish some healthy routines to easily incorporate these into the your child’s day. Set up an exercise station in your home; go on daily family walks; shoot hoops or use sidewalk chalk in the driveway; pull out the bubbles for some old fashioned fun; play a game of corn hole or Frisbee in the backyard; do an outside scavenger hunt, etc. Have your child take on some chores both inside and outside to help support the family. Fresh air, sunshine, and movement will do wonders!

Be sure to find ways for your children to safely engage with peers and extended family members as well. Arrange playdates with your child’s friends on Zoom. You can coordinate activities that the children can work on virtually together from one of their school assignments and Legos to coloring and sharing the same snack. Set up virtual gatherings or even share a meal virtually with grandparents and other relatives using Zoom, FaceTime, or a similar app. Don’t forget to incorporate your own family fun with family movie or game night, walking and playing together outside, cooking a special treat together, working on a family jigsaw puzzle, or whatever your family enjoys.

Take a look at how some NYA students used technology to record Nice to Meet Ya by Niall Horan remotely! Nice to Meet Ya Social Distance Style

REMINDER TO CHECK EMAIL

As we are not together at school each day, email is a vital means of communication with students and families. Parents will receive daily emails from classroom teachers, weekly emails from Specials teachers, periodic updates from me, and links to Ben’s Sunday letters and the three division newsletters. Please make sure that your contact information in Family Web is up to date. You can edit this information using the Instructions for Family Web Parent Information Form, which can be found in Technology Help under the Parents tab on the NYA homepage.

WEEKLY INITIATIVES FROM THE WELLNESS TEAMBe Well Heart

During remote learning, NYA is excited to offer a weekly wellness theme which will encompass strategies for the NYA community to persevere in the coming weeks. We open with KINDNESS! Discover how practicing acts of kindness can benefit the brain and nurture our relationships with one another and ourselves. Join us, and stay connected by sharing acts of kindness in a Be Kind Challenge and a Virtual Kind Club.  ~ Cindy Hould, NYA Counselor

GUEST SPEAKER “VISITS” GEOGRAPHY CLASS

One of the five themes of geography is Movement, the travel of people, goods, and ideas throughout the world. As the sixth grade geography class learned earlier in the year, a by-product of this movement is the spread of diseases. Students learned about the devastating effect of diseases brought by explorers to the New World and Australia and New Zealand. It seemed only fitting to begin the remote phase of geography class with a study of pandemics. Dr. Jarrod Daniel, father of Hugo ’26, Delphine ’28, Cappy ’30, and Emme ’32, was a guest speaker in our virtual class last Wednesday. Dr. Daniel discussed COVID-19 in terms of the size of the virus germ (0.001 mm), how it works, the symptoms, and other facts surrounding this disease. He also explained how a ventilator works, and discussed whether or not asymptomatic people should wear masks. One reassuring statistic is that 80% of people who contract COVID-19 will recover without treatment. Thank you, Dr. Daniel, for your timely “visit” to our class. Knowledge will help us all keep the “panic” out of pandemic!  ~ Eliot Grady, Librarian, Geography, French

NYA SOIRÉE 

Each year, we look forward to hosting alumni, parents, and friends at the NYA Soirée. Given the CDC recommendations on restricting social gatherings to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we are making some adjustments. This year, we plan to transition the live, in-person Soirée to a virtual gathering where we can come together as a community, online, for an engaging evening of fun and impact.We hope you will join us!
Please save the evening of Friday, May 15 for NYA’s virtual Soirée.

CALENDAR

As Ben Jackson shared in his letter last Sunday, unless otherwise stated, we are following the general school calendar as it currently stands and will continue to follow CDC and government guidance for campus events. The “For Your Planning” section will indicate events that have been cancelled or postponed. We will continue to update you on all events as new information becomes available.

FOR YOUR PLANNING:

4/14 Spring Strings Concert Postponed
4/17 Sixth Grade Geography Expo Postponed
4/20 Patriots’ Day NO CLASSES
4/21 In Service Day/Lower School Parent Conferences NO CLASSES
4/24 Spring Choral Concert Postponed
4/28 Spring Instrumental Concert Postponed
5/1 Last Day of Senior Classes
5/1 Lower School Grandparents’ Day Cancelled
5/6 Special Olympics and MDA Hopathon Cancelled
5/15 NYA Virtual Soirée  

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