In The News

Newsletter Regarding COVID-19 – March 18, 2020

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Dear People’s Prep Families,

Since our last update, we have reached a point of unprecedented disruption to our business as usual. This week, Governor Murphy issued an Executive Order mandating the statewide closure of all public schools in the state. New Jersey has also announced a statewide curfew and movement restrictions to encourage social distancing. With such sweeping changes impacting us all so quickly, we remain committed to giving you the most accurate and timely information we have available to us. Please expect that these updates will continue indefinitely until we are all safely on the other side of this.

We recognize that, in these trying times, we are all looking for a return to normalcy. As such, we’ve been receiving a number of questions about what the remainder of the school year will look like when we are permitted to reopen. At this time we have only guesses, and it would be irresponsible for us to speculate when the situation is changing so rapidly at the local, state, and national levels.

However, based on the reaction of school districts in areas with high infection rates, it is becoming quite clear that we are very likely going to be closed beyond March 30th. I say this not to promote false information, but to give our hard-working parents and guardians advanced notice so that we can all do our best to plan accordingly.

At this point, your student’s council coach should have been in touch with you about expectations for home instruction work. In the event that you haven’t heard from them, please reach out directly to Principal Keith Robinson at krobinson@peoplesprep.org. We will be making an effort to connect our families with technology and other resources so that students can successfully complete their coursework from home.

If you are a parent/guardian of a student who has an IEP or receives support from our school’s mental health team, you should expect your case manager to be reaching out to check in about once each week. If you have a specific question, please reach out directly to Natalie Reeves (816-825-6719), Karen Patton (803-920-6719), or Cameron Stewart (929-445-4577). In the event of a mental health emergency, please call 911 first and inform our mental health team second.

With many schools and businesses closed, it is understandable that some of us are having difficulty providing enough food for our families, accessing the internet, or even receiving steady paychecks from our employers. These are issues being faced by millions of families throughout the country. Fortunately, it now appears that attitudes in Washington are shifting, and the COVID-19 pandemic is being taken more seriously. That means that families can expect some real relief in the coming days and weeks ahead.

Locally, there are a growing number of businesses and organizations that are stepping up to help families in need. Below you’ll find a list of helpful links that we encourage you to read. If you and your family are not in need of these services, we ask that you please pass this information along to anyone else who may benefit from it.

This week, Mayor Baraka announced the first Newark cases of coronavirus. Here is an article outlining Baraka’s proposed measures to help residents weather the challenges.

Food

People’s Prep will be distributing food to PPCS families on Tuesdays and Fridays each week from 10-11:30 AM at the PPCS student entrance on Bergen Street.

The Newark Board of Education has announced a list of grab-and-go school meal sites that are open to all students in Newark. One of our community partners created a map where your families can identify the nearest location to their homes.

Internet Access / Remote Learning

  1. Broadband Internet Provider Programs. Some internet service providers are offering free and/or reduced rate internet packages. Comcast is offering a two month free internet package.  Verizon and AT&T are waiving late fees and will not shut off service for anyone who is unable to pay their bill for the next two months.
  2. Federal Policy. Senator Booker has been publicly calling on federal authorities to boost wireless internet hotspot distribution for low income households.
  3. Remote Learning Compliance. The State Assembly also advanced legislation clarifying the rules for compliance with the 180-day requirement in remote learning situations–and those rules included charters.

Income Stability

  1. Local Charity. The United Way of Greater Newark is working to set up a COVID-19 fund to channel donations to support a variety of relief efforts across the city.
  2. Newark Evictions Halted. The mayor has temporarily halted all evictions in the city of Newark for 60 days, a bold move that will help many of your families navigate any stoppages in income.
  3. Federal Relief On The Way. On Capitol Hill, the US House of Representatives voted on a package of economic relief measures that impact schools and education. We are still studying this and will keep you posted, but you can read more about the house version here. Moreover, there is some activity around a bill that would provide emergency relief funds to college students.
  4. State Relief Too. The State legislature is also working on a variety of bills to help workers and businesses navigate this crisis. Like the federal policies, we will work with NJPCSA to help share more details on any relevant state legislation once it becomes final.
  5. Benefits Counseling for Families. We are currently reaching out to community partners to identify a trusted source of (remote) support and counseling for families that may need to access existing benefit programs like unemployment and SNAP (food stamps), and any new programs that are part of state and federal relief plans. Per the United Way, Newark Emergency Services for Families and FOCUS are the community-based organizations currently available to provide this support to your families. We will update you once we learn of more options in this area.

Resources for Families

Project Ready put together this handy resource guide for Newark families navigating the crisis (in both English & Spanish).

Please continue to stay in touch with any questions or concerns.  In addition to reaching out to your child’s council coach and Mr. Robinson, please email questions to info@peoplesprep.org.

Sending strength and love,

Jess Rooney
Founder, Co-Director