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District News

April 3, 2020

Dear Families, Staff and Students,

The truism about predictions regarding the future is that they are (statistically speaking) usually wrong. And the further in the future, the more likely they are to be incorrect. The short-term prediction for New Jersey, however, seems unavoidable: The number of people affected by COVID-19 is going to get worse before it gets better.

As we anticipate our spring break next week—which for some families isn’t a break at all, but another week of juggling work, child care, handwashing, grocery shopping, CNN watching, and computer refereeing—it is likely with a mixture of trepidation and hope. I would like to focus on the hope. Hope and heroism.

In this last week, we have seen some astonishing acts of generosity. They include the distribution of books and toys organized by Johnson Park and Jazams, the donation of medical-grade N95 masks by the Littlebrook community, the resurgence of (virtual) parent-teacher talking circles at Riverside, CP teachers planning a car parade to wave hello to their students, the development of a binder of Spring Break activities by a JW counselor, and a Princeton High School science teacher who was actually holding office hours with his students on the way to the hospital for a non-COVID-19 medical emergency. (We wish him a speedy recovery!) 

We keep hearing that the best way to feel better in a crisis is to help somebody else, and we have a number of children and families who are doing exactly that. They are donating to food banks, writing notes of gratitude to sanitation workers and mail carriers, even sending videos of themselves singing songs to cheer up those who are quarantined in nursing homes.

And yet as we honor these acts of generosity and kindness, we also know our Princeton Public Schools community is experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and grief. An increasing number of our families have an ailing elderly relative, an immune-compromised child, or a friend or family member in a precarious health situation. So many families are struggling with a parent who is not working, or one who is working in health care, in a grocery store, or in any of the essential jobs that we all rely on, but which come with a greater risk of exposure to this virus. And sadly, some of our families have already faced a serious loss, and have even had to say goodbye to a relative remotely. Our hearts go out to you.  Know that we are inspired by your courage and resilience.  Courage, kindness, hope and heroism. These are the attributes that will carry us through this crisis, and for me these qualities have been remarkably embodied by the teachers and staff of the Princeton Public Schools. 

Schools are not buildings. They are people. They are the trusting, caring relationships forged among staff, students and families. In the past three weeks since our schools have closed, I have actually watched those relationships deepen. I have watched as staff – most of whom are new to remote learning – reached out to one another to share technology support, creative ideas, and expressions of humor. I have watched as they connected with students through morning meetings, virtual lessons, emails and phone calls. And I have watched as they continually and creatively found ways to connect with families and with the larger community in the spirit of “joy and purpose,” which define the mission of our District. 

Today, the staff at JP shared with our entire community a visual message of joy based on the words and wisdom of Winnie the Pooh. I have pasted that message below and will add to it my own hope that this break is a time for all of us to relax, recharge and rejoice in the relationships that bring meaning to our lives.

JP sends a message to parents and students

Have a wonderful Spring Break, and please click on the link below for a comprehensive list of real and virtual “staycation” activities for kids of all ages! 

Steve Cochrane

Spring Break Information

Check our website for a comprehensive list of spring break options and activities, and this website too!

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