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.
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!!!
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.
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!
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.
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.
We are proud to invite you to our upcoming end of cycle performances! Our students have been working hard to develop these fun and exciting performances. We are looking forward to sharing them with you.