contingency plans

Schools will be closed Tuesday, and Regents exams moved to later this week

A scene from a snowy day in 2014 .

The city’s schools will be closed Tuesday as a massive snow storm closes in on the city, and that day’s Regents exams will be moved to later this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Monday.

The global history and Algebra Regents exams and two special-education tests scheduled for Tuesday will instead be given on Thursday afternoon, Chancellor Carmen Fariña said at the briefing. Schools were also given permission to administer Monday afternoon’s Regents exams early so that students and staff could get home, she said. The city had earlier called off all after-school activities Monday.

The city’s move to reschedule the Regents exams followed the highly unusual decision by the state earlier in the day to allow districts to postpone the tests. In the past, the state education department has barred districts that close schools due to weather emergencies on scheduled Regents dates from giving the tests at different times as a way to prevent cheating.

The Regents exams, which high school students must pass in order to graduate, began Monday and were scheduled to finish Thursday morning. Regents tests are also offered in June and August, but this month is the second-to-last chance that students have to take the Algebra exam before it is permanently replaced by one aligned to the new Common Core standards. Fewer students sit for the Regents exams in January than in the later months, but it offers those unable to pass the tests in the past a chance to try again.

Last January, the state did not allow some upstate districts that cancelled the Regents exams due to cold weather to reschedule them, explaining it would be too costly to create makeup tests. When New York City schools cancelled the Regents exams because of snow in 2011 and 2004, the state did not permit the city to reschedule them but did let students use passing course grades to earn a less rigorous diploma.

On Monday morning, State Education Department Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner sent a memo to school districts saying that more than half of students statewide are expected to miss one or more days of school due to the storm, adding that local officials should, “close school if you need to close school.” He instructed them to tell the department which exams had to be cancelled and what their plans are “to ensure the security of exams and scoring materials” while they wait to reschedule them.

“We will work together to ensure that this historic and extraordinary situation is navigated in a way that keeps us all safe, is fair to students, and trusts our school and district leaders to preserve the integrity of the Regents Exam program,” Wagner wrote.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a news conference in New York City at noon Monday, where he declared a state of emergency in several downstate counties, including New York City.

“This is not a storm to take lightly,” he said, adding that the city’s subway system will reduce service after 7 p.m.

 The full state memo is below. We’ll continue to update this story throughout the day as more information becomes available.

Colleagues,

As you know, New York State will be affected by an historic snow storm over the next few days. We are seeing reports that well over half of our students from Montauk to Utica will be affected by one or more days of school closures during the administration of the January Regents Exams.

In addition, Tuesday is one of the final administrations of the Integrated Algebra Regents Exam, which, as you know, is a graduation requirement and an exam being phased out as part of our assessment transition.
Therefore, the Department will make the following one-time adjustment in reaction to this historic, extraordinary, and widespread confluence of events.

First and most important – be safe during the storm. Close school if you need to close school.

When the storm has passed, each school superintendent, charter school leader, and nonpublic school principal in a district or school impacted by weather-related closures must send to the Department at [email protected] a description of the date(s) on which schools were closed due to weather, which January Regents Exams had to be canceled, when you plan to administer the tests, and your comprehensive plan to ensure the security of exams and scoring materials during this time period.

Please observe the following constraints when submitting your plan

+All exams should be administered as close as possible to the original administration window.

+All January Regents Exams must be administered by Friday, January 30, 2015.

+Although scoring materials will be available according to the previously posted schedule, you may not access or distribute these scoring materials until all exams have been administered in your school.

+Regents Exam booklets should be kept secure until 5 pm on Friday, January 30.

We will work together to ensure that this historic and extraordinary situation is navigated in a way that keeps us all safe, is fair to students, and trusts our school and district leaders to preserve the integrity of the Regents Exam program.

If you have any questions, please contact our team at [email protected] or 518-474-5902.

Ken

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.