HSES Remote Learning COVID19 InfoHub

Letter from the Principal to the Class of 2020
April 21, 2020

Dear Class of 2020,

   As you know at this point, Mayor de Blasio announced that NYC public schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year and we are currently waiting for final confirmation from Governor Cuomo. In all likelihood, the HSES community will not see one another in person this school year and while I long to see everyone, I am especially saddened that we won’t get a chance to celebrate the class of 2020.
  I have served as your principal for all four years and have had the privilege of watching you grow from children to our future leaders. My heart breaks for all of you because you deserve to be celebrated in person. However, as your principal, my number one priority is your safety and I know that social distancing is the only way we can ensure that our community stays healthy during this uncertain time.
   The hard reality is that, as of now, graduation, prom, and senior brunch are cancelled. We cannot have senior celebrations or ceremonies in person, since school is still shut down. It is extremely painful to communicate this decision to all of you, but it is one that is entirely out of my hands. While many other schools are postponing ceremonies and celebrations into the summer, there has been no definitive date given by the government when we will be able to go back to normal. Therefore, I do not feel it is fair to you to reschedule something to a later date that may not be able to happen. If you paid senior dues already, you will be getting a refund and Ms. Giannoccaro will follow up individually about that.
  Even though we cannot celebrate your accomplishments in person, we are working very hard to make sure you are celebrated virtually. Please be on the lookout for communication about the yearbook and senior class photo from Ms. Wakiya. We are also organizing a virtual Senior Awards, virtual Sports Awards, and virtual Graduation Ceremony. Details around those events are upcoming. Additionally, please be on the lookout for special virtual surprises for the Class of 2020.
  All of this information is a lot to process and I know it is very difficult. On Friday, April 24 at 1:00 PM AP DeFlorio and I will be hosting a Google meet where you can come to ask any follow up questions or express concerns. The High School for Environmental Studies community is resilient and will get through this hard time. While we can’t see each other now, please know that HSES will always be your home.
Amber Najmi
Important NEWS for 2020 SENIORS & Regents Requirements alertphone
Updates, Resources, and Information can be found on the Page Links Provided below and the right of this page.

April 13, 2020

Dear High School for Environmental Studies Community,

On Saturday morning, Mayor De Blasio announced that NYC schools will not reopen for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Although I am extremely disappointed that we won’t finish the school year in person, I know that this is the right decision for our city and community.

As your principal, it is my number one priority to put the health and safety of my students and staff in the forefront of every decision I make and I know that we will be safer together by remaining apart during this uncertain time. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of you have lost loved ones to this unthinkable virus. I am keeping you close to my heart during this time, and the HSES community is here to support you. Even though we will not be able to connect in person, we will continue to support one another remotely. We are here for you all for the duration of this unprecedented period, and will keep you informed with the best information we have.

The dedication and perseverance this community has shown to adapt to remote learning has been astounding. Our teachers, guidance counselors, and support staff have been working tirelessly to make sure that we maintain as much normalcy as possible during these uncertain times. I cannot express how grateful I am to the families who have worked with our teachers to ensure that their children are set up for success. HSES students continue to engage in thoughtful discussions and think critically, despite the enormous change that happened seemingly overnight. I am so proud of this community and all we continue to do together.

When I returned to the High School for Environmental Studies over four years ago in the new role of principal, I remember discovering that the rooftop garden that bloomed and flourished when I was a teacher was gone. The roof was barren and there was no sign of life. Over the next several years, teachers, students, and the whole community worked together to revive the rooftop. Today we have flowers in bloom, garlic, honey, cucumbers, countless other vegetables, and even four amazing chickens on that roof. We may be on pause right now, but once we return to our home at High School for Environmental Studies we will work together again and bloom again as that roof does. Together we will get through this. We are planting the seeds now for a garden yet to grow.

Amber Najmi

April 11, 2020

Dear Families:


    Less than one month ago, we came together and began transforming the largest school system in the nation. The battle against COVID-19 left us no choice but to close school buildings to students and staff, transition to remote teaching and learning from home, and adjust to distancing from each other to remain safe.


  Now, we face another painful decision. After consulting with public health experts about the ongoing trajectory of the virus, and with educators about the potential for continued disruption for the remainder of the year, we have decided that New York City school buildings will not reopen during the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers and students will finish the school year in remote learning. We will continue to operate our 400+ school-based Meal Hubs, which serve three free meals a day to any New Yorker who needs them, and we will continue to ensure child care for the children of essential workers.


    This is a painful but necessary decision for two reasons. First, public health experts have determined that community transmission of COVID-19 will be widespread well into the end of the school year. Even at low-level transmission, we’d have new cases, which would be extremely difficult to contain school-to-school. We believe there simply wouldn’t be enough time to bring our students back.


  Second, we, as parents, know how important it is to have some sense of predictability in order to effectively plan for your family. This crisis is hitting all of us very hard. But we are hopeful that this sense of certainty will allow for more stability and the ability to better plan for our work and home lives.


   We know this will have an immense impact on the 1.1 million students and 150,000 staff who make up our New York City public schools. But we are inspired by the extraordinary ways everyone in our school communities has risen to this challenge. Every day, we see how you – students, families, and the dedicated staff serving and supporting our public schools – are going above and beyond to connect in the face of this crisis, all in service of making sure learning continues. We also know that you’ll need support to continue this tremendous undertaking. That’s why we’re making the following commitments to you as we extend the closure of our school buildings until the end of the school year:


  1. Every student who has requested an internet-enabled device will have one by the end of April. No student will go without the tools they need for learning. We have already delivered tens of thousands of devices to our most vulnerable students, including those in shelter and temporary housing. We are committed to closing the remainder of the digital divide for each of our kids. If you still need a device, please fill out the Remote Learning Device Request Form at schools.nyc.gov, or call 311.


  1. We will make sure that parents can ask and get answers to their questions about remote learning. We know you need someone to turn to who will answer any question you have about education during this time—from social-emotional support to academic progress to graduation requirements. Your school is always ready and willing to support you, and we will also make sure that additional support is available as we continue in our remote environment. This means increasing hours and staffing of our parent hotlines so you can get the answers you need. Call 311 to be directed to the right DOE support.


  1. We’ll continue to invest in instructional resources, enrichment programs, and student supports for your families to engage in learning at home. Our students need and deserve rich, deep programming and remote learning opportunities as we go further into the school year, and we will continue to provide them. This includes learning resources provided by your teachers and schools, but it also includes enriching and fun materials from the world-class cultural institutions, libraries, museums, parks, and more right here in New York City.


  1. We will ensure every high school senior is supported towards graduation. We’ll provide 1:1 counseling support to every senior, working closely with schools and families to understand if students are on track—and if not, provide opportunities to help them get there. Guidance counselors from every high school will reach out to every senior to make sure they are on a path to graduate.


  1. We will reopen schools stronger than ever in September, ensuring the safety of our buildings and the resources in place to combat any learning loss and provide emotional support to our students, families, and educators as needed to resume learning and reconnect our communities.


   Nothing about this is easy. For the last six years of this administration, public schools have been the anchor of our fight against inequality. They are how we’ve delivered increased opportunity, and we can’t overstate the loss of the concrete sense of community our schools provide. But this is about saving lives.


   We are so grateful for your flexibility and patience; we know how hard every one of you has worked to support your children’s learning at home. And we will continue to make every effort to both support you and keep learning going during this unprecedented time.


  We will also continue to keep you updated. As a reminder, you can visit DOE’s website anytime at schools.nyc.gov for more information and updates on our plans for the rest of the school year.


  • Regents Exams: The State has cancelled June 2020 Regents exams. Families of high school students will soon receive additional guidance regarding how this impacts graduation requirements. In short, students who planned to take Regents exams in June 2020 will be exempt from these exams in order to earn their diploma, but they still must complete the required course credits to graduate. Our goal is to make sure that students on track to graduate this year continue to remain on their path toward successful completion of high school. (FOR MORE See Our HSES LINK)

  • Math and ELA Tests: The State has cancelled math and English Language Arts tests for grades 3 through 8.

  • AP Exams: The College Board has announced that AP exams will not be administered in school buildings, but students will be able to take AP exams at home. We will soon provide guidance to schools and students on how to implement these changes. If you are in need of a device and have not yet done so, we encourage you to complete DOE’s remote learning device survey.

  • Remote Learning Tools: In order to best protect security and privacy, we are requiring schools to transition away from using Zoom as a virtual meeting tool for remote learning. We know this tool is already in use by many schools and we don’t expect it to happen overnight, but we are providing support to educators to help the transition to Google Hangouts Meet or Microsoft Teams—both of which are also in consistent use by many schools.