A Far Rockaway charter school is partnering with faculty from John Hopkins Medical School to educate parents, students and teachers in one of the pandemic’s hardest-hit communities on the science of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Aug. 25, Challenge Charter School Founder and CEO Rev. Dr. Les Mullings will host a back to school forum with Assistant Professor at John Hopkins School of Medicine Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, MHS, New York City Councilman Donovan Richards and Representative Gregory Meeks on Zoom.
There, parents, students, charter school staff, and anyone else can listen to panelists discuss the status of new infections in the country and whether it is safe to reopen schools in New York City for blended learning given the available building space and in-stock personal protective equipment.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza are still set on reopening school buildings on Sept. 10 to allow for in-person classes as a part of the fall semester’s blended learning model.
On Monday, officials announced that school principles could apply to use schoolyards, streets and nearby parks as classroom space as the push to delay in-person learning increases. Last week, the United Federation of Teachers promised to stick by striking teachers if the city did not delay school openings.
Challenge Charter School will begin its fall semester completely remotely and there is no rush to send students back to any of Challenge’s four campuses until school leadership is assured they “know everything they need to know” about the virus, said Mullings.
Although the school does have two tentative dates for the start of staggered in-person classes, Oct. 19 for elementary school students and Oct. 28 for middle and high school students.
“We are not pushing one way or the other, we are saying come out and listen to an authority on the virus and make your own decision,” said Mullings. The forum is meant to provide worried parents and staff with answers to questions on the potential consequences of reopening schools since the city has done little to assuage fears.
The forum is just one way that Challenge Charter School and John Hopkins will work together to help protect the at-risk home of large pockets of Black and Hispanic nursing facility and hospital workers. During the outbreak of the coronavirus in New York City in March, out of every 100,000, there were 443 deaths, according to a data crunch from Politico.
John Hopkins faculty are also working in collaboration with school teachers and administrators to create a curriculum of workshops on health and wellness during the ongoing pandemic. Workshops will be between 15 and 30 minutes long and cover topics like COVID-19 terminology, the process of virus reproduction, and how face masks stop the spread of air-born microbes. Students will also learn how to make hand sanitizer and social media campaigns to educate family and friends on how to protect themselves and others from the virus.
“But we are still doing our homework, still planning and seeing what else is out there,” said Mullings.