We write to you, hoping you and your loved ones are safe and in good health.
These are challenging times. The last few weeks have been busy, confusing ones for the Harlem Link team, as they may have been for you. We want members of our community to know what we’re doing to help our children continue learning, and the ways we are reaching out to connect our family network in the face of COVID-19.
We made the difficult decision to close the school building in order to safeguard our community and their families, effective March 13th. Our families and extended community can fortunately still stop by the school for “Grab-N-Go” daily meals, but our building has effectively shuttered.
But Harlem Link is still open – remotely. Our team has been working tirelessly to create a web-based education platform, which launched this past Monday. Families are hearing from us, across our staff – teachers, social workers, service and care providers. Our school team and extended partnership network are working with local organizations to identify and deliver the resources our families need to weather this crisis, including dependable internet and data access.
Our new remote learning platform, Harlem Link Virtual School, has been a product of necessity but also community. The platform offers links to daily live morning meeting check-ins, ensuring students start their day with the opportunity to see, talk to, and laugh with their teachers and classmates. Teachers are leading reading, math, and writing instruction each day as a homeroom, and our rotation of enrichment specialists are keeping everyone’s spirits up through art, science, dance, and PE. Pre-recorded mini-lessons and self-guided activities are available to students at any time, and use of Zoom has provided our specialist team the opportunity to host tailored lessons and tele-conferences for students normally receiving AIS, OT, and MLL services. Our spring Family-Teacher Conferences are even underway, as our instructional and school leaders host “face-to-face” check-ins with families.
We are expending every resource across our team to ensure continuity of care and to support our students and their caregivers in working with the Virtual School until this crisis is over. Everything we do is in service to ensuring everyone feels tethered to our school community in this uncertain time.
However, our efforts are complicated by the fact that 300 of our students and families lack computer access, with many attending Virtual School via the single smartphone shared by their entire family. We have already ordered and delivered 70 Chromebooks using reserve funds, but we need to purchase and deliver 230 more laptops to give every child full access to their education.
These students need our help. Each donation goes towards getting a computer and connectivity into the hands of a Harlem Link student. Our mission is for 100% of our learners to have the tools they need to continue their education and find a home in our remote school.
This is a hard time for everyone – and no one should be left out. If you need to be connected with our wellness programs, or if you’re able to help: let us know. Reach out, because help and our community are always there when you need it.
We wish nothing but love and good health into all your homes. Please be well.
Your Harlem Link Family