On-Site Afterschool: Fall 2021 is Here!!!

First day of in-person, on-site afterschool…Monday, September 13, 2021!!!

We’re so happy to back! And the children all seemed very excited to see their friends and take part in their favorite activities. After a year of outdoor and online programming, we’re excited to bring back musical theater, creative writing, and chess, among many other offerings. inside the buildings of our host schools.

Please remind your children that school rules about distancing and mask-wearing should be observed during afterschool as well. (Just trying to keep everyone safe!)

And, for parents, thank you for your patience with the first day of pick-up. The new routine of walking the children out to parents takes a little longer, but, again, safety is our top priority.

Fall Cycle of afterschool will go from Monday, September 13th to Friday, December 10th. As we ramp up, we are re-connecting with our teachers in various subject areas and fine-tuning the schedule. More than more years, this year’s schedule is a work-in-progress and we will continue adding classes and making adjustments through the start of the school year. If there’s a class that you would be interested in but you don’t see it on the schedule, please let us know. It might be that we were planning to bring it back or that we just needed a nudge from an enthusiastic family! (We love your input!!!)

Even as we resume many of our old stand-by classes (like chess and multi-sports and science) we plan to continue with the programs we developed during the last year and a half. In particular, our outdoor adventure classes in Central Park have been a big hit and are here to stay. Also, where there is interest, we will continue to our online instruction in art, chess, and instrumental music.

Welcome back everyone! If you have questions, please send an email to info@artsandathletics.org.

The NYC DoE calendar for next school year has just been publish, so we will begin to set up registration next fall afterschool as well. Here’s the link to the school calendar for 2021-22.

Making Online Learning Work for You

The necessity of work in front of a computer screen has certainly taken its toll this year. And we’ve learned that not every subject can be taught effectively over the internet. Nevertheless, Arts and Athletics and other educators have identified a number of classes that work well online and we’ve developed ways to make the most of these resources.

Coding is a natural and we’re exciting that Ms. Sora is offering a couple section of coding using a couple of different platforms, Kodable and Code Monkey. (You can learn more about our technology offerings here.

Outdoors/Indoors–Central to our afterschool programming these last months has been our outdoor adventure program, where children exercise and explore and learning about nature. We currently offer sections in English, Spanish, and French, and we’ve discovered that for children still learning the languages (i.e. they don’t speak French at home with their parents) we are able to augment the outdoor experience with an online class in which reinforces vocabulary and phrases and concepts that were covered in our outdoor class. And we are offering this language support for children who are signed up for outdoor adventures and no additional cost!

Other classes that work well online are chess, musical theater, and writing. The ideal afterschool class is one that uses a child’s academic skills without seeming to pile on more work. When a student can experience the sense of agency that comes with using the skills they’ve learned in school, that reinforces the benefits of their classroom experience, and promotes a love of learning.

We hope that we’ll soon be able to resume classes in our schools, but we will continue to look for ways to use online learning to support our offerings and create a better learning experience.

COVID Policies and Procedures

Arts and Athletics has cultivated a cautious but optimistic stance toward the coronavirus pandemic and we have developed routines that incorporate insights and best practices from the latest public health guidance. Naturally, it is a work in progress, but as we expand our programming and gradually resume activities in our cooperating schools, we will continue to adhere to the policies and procedure that keep our children and our staff members safe.

To read more about our COVID response, click here.

It’s a Positive Sign!

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve collaborated with our friends at the Level Group design firm to develop signage for our winter offerings. You’ll see the results posted at each of our schools, red/pink and blue/green banners that say: YES! Winter Enrollment is Now Open.

It’s such a simple message, but during these colder months we feel that it’s important to affirm that good things are happening amidst all the disruption and uncertainty.

Join us this winter if you can. We have regular outdoor and online afterschool (winter cycle goes through Friday, February 12th) and we have camps on the days that school is not in session. And keep us in mind for spring activities as well. We will begin registration for spring cycle by the end of January. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to offer some of our spring classes back in the school buildings.

But whether it’s with our crew or on your own or with friends…make sure that you’re getting outside and enjoying the fresh air. We want you to be happy and healthy too!!!

Travel During the Pandemic

The Arts and Athletics staff are minimizing travel during this holiday season, and those who are traveling are taking precautions of getting tested and quarantining before leaving and upon their return.

The New York Health Department continues to update its guidance on travel and staying safe during the winter months. See their winter plan here.

The team at Arts and Athletics has worked hard over the last ten months to learn all we could about operating safely during this unprecedented public health crisis. Like everyone, we wish we could have a quicker return to normalcy, but we’re also learning about patience and we remain committed to providing support for families and cool experiences for children…always prioritizing their safety and wellbeing.

Happy Holidays everyone. Please be safe!

Balto–Hero for Our Times

Last week, our winter adventurers took a walk down to 67th Street on the east side of Central Park to visit the sculpture of Balto the celebrated sled dog. In addition to this bronze rendering, there are also animated movies about him.

Balto’s back story (also told in a popular animated feature named for him) is that there was an outbreak of a disease called diphtheria in Nome, Alaska in 1925, and the people of that city were running out of medicine.

Teams of sled dogs came to the rescue, running across the tundra for nearly 700 miles in the harshest conditions to bring residents of Nome the supplies they needed. Way to go, Balto!

Read what the Central Park folks have to say about Balto here.

New York State Guidance for In-Person Instruction

On Monday, July 13th, the New York State Department of Health issued a report: “Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools.” I would encourage all of our parents and instructors to read the document and share your reflections about it. Afterschool staff at Arts and Athletics are studying and discussing all available information as we prepare for re-opening of schools in the coming weeks.

In simpler times, we (parents and providers alike) might have thought of Arts and Athletics as simply the local musical theater program, homework help provider, or physical activity coordinator, depending on the child’s specific interests. What’s been true all along, however, is that the role of Arts and Athletics is to work with parents and educators to determine the needs of the community and work cooperatively to address those needs. In the coming days we will open registration for fall cycle, offering programs that are informed by documents like the New York State Interim Guidance and ongoing consultation with our school leaders.

The model we are exploring for afterschool for the fall cycle is for self-contained groups of 15 or fewer students with two teachers who would stay together as a unit throughout the afternoon. The objective is to minimize the potential for infection by keeping the same group of children together from school dismissal until pickup at 6 p.m. and throughout the week (Monday through Friday) where possible. In this configuration all children would have some art, some physical activity, and some academic support during their afterschool hours.

Our staff will continue to take part in trainings provided by the New York State Department of Health and we will put together action plans that begin to adapt the Arts and Athletics programs to the needs of our school community.

In the meantime, stay healthy and stay in touch!

E-Learning with Arts and Athletics

Over the past three months since our schools and our programs transitioned to distance learning, the Arts and Athletics team has sought to bridge the gap with online classes and video lessons to reach out and engage our students and families. Amidst all of the uncertainty and fear brought to the foreground first by the COVID pandemic and then by the persistent crisis of racial injustice, it’s clear that education has a fundamental role to play. Basic to our mission is honoring children’s curiosity and encouraging them to ask why and to ask how. Even when the questions were about the rules of a game or a recipe in cooking class, how we as adults respond signals to children that their concerns are valid and that they have our support in their quest to figure things out.

Today we are faced with questions that defy easy answers, but our role as adults is still the same: encourage children’s questions and support their efforts to learn and grow. Going forward the Arts and Athletics team will look for ways to facilitate this work, starting with sharing the links below to the Schomburg Center of the New York Public Library and to the Maxine Greene Institute, exploring the power and possibility of social imagination.

Schomburg’s Black Liberation List for Young Readers
The Maxine Greene Institute–Social Imagination

Click here to find out more!

Important Dates:

Winter Cycle begins Monday, December 9th. Please contact your site supervisor with any questions regarding enrollment or schedule changes.

Our 88th Street studio is open with lots of fun classes for kids and adults! For schedules and class details, please click here.

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