At this a time of great uncertainty, there is one thing I would like you to be certain about SchoolPlus will continue to offer all classes for the 2020-2021 academic year online, in our virtual classrooms. The reason is simple – the pandemic in our country is, unfortunately, not under control, and we are not willing to place members of our SchoolPlus community under any additional risk. We will keep the class schedule the same as last year: Saturdays for Teaneck branch and Sundays for North Brunswick branch. This will exclude any overlap with regular school schedule.
Moving classes online offers challenges and opportunities. Challenges include too much screen time and screen fatigue. We are very aware of these issues and are taking steps to proactively and creatively address these concerns. For example, our students will continue to use paper textbooks that will allow them to look away from the screen for part of the lesson. Math teachers will give mental calculation problems and tell students to close their eyes, lean back comfortably in their chair, and work out the problem in their heads. Closing eyes helps children relax. To reduce physical fatigue, we will use regularly scheduled five-minute breaks, during which students will be doing physical exercises, such as stretches and jumping jacks all together; children have quite enjoyed these small breaks with their teacher. And the list goes on.
Virtual education also offers opportunities both in terms of how subjects are taught and what subjects we can offer. Our teachers are changing the format of classes to make them more interactive and even adding elements of “edutainment”, e.g. specially chosen math games. We have also added many new classes. In addition to our usual roster of Math, English, Russian, Chess, and Art, we are adding new subjects such as Geography, Ancient History, Coding, Debate, Graphic design, and more. There will even be a class of Yoga for Children! Watch our growing list of subjects for more offerings. Most of these new classes will be offered on weekday afternoons.
Our teachers have reported that online classes went very well last semester. We are very optimistic that our kids will continue to learn at the same rigorous level that they did before and will master the course material that they need to for the coming school year. To help your children succeed, please ensure that they regularly do their homework. Once-a-week lessons need reinforcement and homework is the proven way to accomplish this.
I want to close this letter by offering my sincere thanks and praise for our teachers for their hard work, creativity, and support of our children in the new learning environment. The teachers have had to make huge adjustments over these past few months, and continue to do so. Kudos for the great work!
I hope this letter gives you a sense of excitement that I feel for the coming year. Keeping our spirits up, staying positive, and encouraging our children with their online learning may be the best way we can support them through these difficult times.
Olga I.Fookson, Ph.D.
SchoolPlus Founding Director