Welcome Letter 2020-2021

September 1, 2020



Dear John Jay Students and Families,

Over the past several weeks, we have continued to define our school plans for a safe reopening this September. Our staff has been actively preparing for the arrival of our students by working on curriculum and program updates following three different pathways including In-Person, Hybrid, and Remote Learning. Additionally, we have improved our facility, scheduled events, organized school resources and continue to make upgrades to get our school so that we are ready for this new era of schooling.

At John Jay Middle School, we take tremendous pride in the strength of our educational programming, school operations, and school facility and this will not change based on our current situation.

Our priorities for reopening remain centered on two critical concepts:

  • Protecting the health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff
  • Upholding our mission to create learning experiences for all students that are engaging, relevant and take place in an active learning environment.

This email contains several important items, so please read all information carefully and store it where you can reference it throughout the year. Please take time to read through the attached document outlining the procedures for student arrival and departure. 



This year will be a first for many of our students in a hybrid or fully remote model. Please help your child(ren) to set up a school space at home and then have conversations about your family's expectations for: when to sign on for a class, returning to graded work, the importance of asking questions, and time away from a screen when not on a zoom or connected with classmates.

We hope that you will join us in acknowledging that your child’s teachers have never taught in a hybrid model before. We expect that there will be bumps along the way with connectivity, audio, a new learning platform, balancing the needs of the students at home with those of the students in class, etc. We ask that you be patient with us as we acknowledge that we are ALL first-year teachers again this year with these changes. We promise to learn, adapt and “fail forward” as the year progresses.

Attendance: We will be taking attendance each period of the day and marking students present or absent whether they are attending in person or remotely. Students attending remotely need to have the camera on for attendance purposes.

Masks: It will be important for all JJMS community members that everyone always wears a mask which meets current CDC expectations. Some exceptions to this are lunch and mask breaks. Consider having students get used to this practice by having them wear a mask at home to ensure they have one that is comfortable for them to wear all day in school.

Classroom Cleaning: As students enter a classroom, they will wipe down their desk with wipes provided by the school. This will allow students to be confident that their space is clean before sitting at the desk for learning. Hand sanitizer will also be provided by the school in all locations throughout the day.

Social Distancing: We expect all community members to follow social distancing as often as possible when on the JJMS campus. Our classrooms are all set up with all student seating locations at least six feet from the next student and we have placed markings on the floor to easily reset the room between periods.  We have also created lanes in our hallways for traffic flow. Students will notice upon arriving to school, there are yellow marks on the sidewalks so that students can properly socially distance when waiting to enter the building.

Lunch: Students will eat their lunch in a classroom this year which will be supervised by a lunch monitor. Students will be expected to clean up their own desks following eating lunch.

This year we will be using a new system for ordering lunch. The district will be communicating this to families soon.

Grading: We will return to traditional grades this year. Please check the ABC Handbook for all grading breakdowns. Starting later in the year, grades will be available to parents to view online.

Devices: All students at JJMS will have a district-issued device this year. We ask that the chargers stay at home so that students can fully charge their devices each night. A properly charged device will be able to last the full day of school. We will, however, have charging cords in each room though students will not be able to charge their device and use it at the same time.

Lockers: Students will NOT be using lockers to start the school year. Please make sure that you child has a sturdy backpack with two straps which can fit all school supplies, student lunch, and technology. Rolling backpacks are not permitted as we have several sets of stairs in the building and they create a safety concern. Please refer to the Revised ABC Handbook for how to pack your child’s backpack.



We recently communicated that we will be hosting two webinars on September 2. One will be for 6th grade students and their families. The other will be for parents of all students 6-8. All events will be recorded and placed on our website.

We will present revised parts of our ABC Handbook and other important updates to our school.

Each webinar is linked below.  Please submit your questions (link also below) ahead of the event so that we can be prepared to fully answer any questions. We will answer questions posted in the live Q & A after we respond to the questions submitted prior to the event.

Grade 6 Students and Parents: September 2 – 3:00 PM

Grade 6-8 Parents: September 2 – 7:00 PM

Submit Your Questions Here



6th Grade Students: The first day of school for our 6th Grade students will be September 10 (Cohort A) or September 11 (Cohort B).  This day will be focused on orientation to our building. Students not in school that day will have activities to complete at home.

7th and 8th Grade Students: On September 10 and 11, there will be a whole-group activity in the morning. This will likely be a video to watch. At around 9am, we will start a virtual day for period 1-9 so that you will meet with all of your teachers both Thursday and Friday.



6th Grade Students should report to the following locations on their first day:
September 10: Cohort A.             September 11: Cohort B

Team Aspire and Team Tenacity in New Gym

Team Tapestry and Team Intrepid in Old Gym

7th and 8th Grade Students:

This year, as students enter the building, they will go directly to their Period 1 class. Students are encouraged to ask questions of faculty and staff in the hallway and follow directional signs.



Over the next week, you will be receiving several important pieces of communication from the School District and JJMS. One of the communications will provide a link to your child’s schedule and another link to an Information Card with important details. Please have your child bring a copy of the information card with their schedule on the first day of school.

Team letters will be sent in a separate communication home.



The updated ABC handbook will be posted on the JJMS website for your review as soon as we complete the updates. It is currently being revised to reflect our new safety practices and method of instruction. We ask all students and parents to review the JJMS ABC Handbook prior to the start of school- we will send out a communication when it is ready. Important information about daily school operations, academics, conduct expectations and more can be found in this document. Please take the time to read this important document together with your child.

During the first days of school, students will review important parts of our Handbook with teachers or administrators.

You are also required to submit a signature form from the District Code of Conduct (one per student) to JJMS no later than the first day of school. This information was in the July mailing.



Throughout the year, any parents wishing to share a specific concern or meet with a teacher should first contact the classroom teacher directly and then, if necessary, grade level guidance counselor to address specific concerns. Teachers may be reached via email or voice message. You will receive a team letter which identifies how teachers prefer to be contacted.

GUIDANCE COUNSELORS AT JJMS: 914-763-7509 or 914-763-7510

Grade 6 counselor: Jen Makover  jmakover@klschools.org 

Grade 7 counselor:   Jeff Tepper jTepper@klschools.org

Grade 8 counselor: AnnMarie MacSweeney   amacsweeney@klschools.org



You should have received a Health Emergency Information Form in the July mailing. We cannot stress enough how important it is that every family return this form. Please be aware of the immunization requirements for your child. All students must receive the required vaccines and provide proof of those vaccinations to the Health Office before school begins. Your child will not be able to attend school unless their vaccines are up to date.

6th Grade students need the Tdap and Varicella booster shots. Please know that every vaccine already on record with your child’s elementary school Health Office is FORWARDED to the JJMS Health Office.

7th Grade students need a meningitis shot. Please call your pediatrician if you have any questions about your child’s immunization status.



All students are required to wear a mask on school transportation. Siblings or those who live in the same household will be required to sit next to each other. You will be able to access your child’s transportation information through the “transportation” tab on the Parent Portal. Please check the information carefully and get to the bus stop early this year! If you will be driving your child to school, please drop them off at the middle school in the upper parking lot. Please do not drop students off at the high school, the shopping center, or track and have them walk the rest of the way.

At the end of the day, all students should leave school on the buses unless they are being picked up or they are walking home. A written and *signed note from you is required for the following circumstances:

  • Your child is a permanent walker
  • Your child plans to walk on a specific day

*We do not accept telephone calls in lieu of written, pictures of hand-written notes or faxed notes. This year, please consider writing a note and then sending a picture of it via email so that we can print it at school.

Please email to send Notes to:

6th Grade: Janice Dobson jdobson@klschools.org

7th and 8th Grade: Amy DeCrenza adecrenza@klschools.org



Our Open Houses will be done virtually this year. We will let you know of dates, times and how to access the information within the next few weeks.


  1. Keep your child’s “welcome” team letter in a safe place for the year. This will provide all important contact information for your child’s school year. These will be sent home soon.
  2. Please refer to our school’s website for any important information.  You can find most of the important information on this page. JJMS Homepage
  3. Consistently check our school calendar through Schoology (will be made public for parents soon) for the upcoming activities, days off, etc.


PARENT VOLUNTEERS: This year, we will have very few, if any, visitors in the building. However, please click on this link if you would possibly like to volunteer later in the year or in future years: Become A Volunteer



Middle school is an exciting part of your journey towards lifelong intellectual, social, behavioral and emotional development. We are fortunate to have you attend JJMS and hope that you invest yourself into your own success and that of your peers and wider John Jay Middle School community.

Keep in mind, you are about to start a new school year with a new schedule of engaging courses taught by caring and compassionate teachers. You will have many opportunities to explore new ideas, meet new friends and achieve personal goals. Your teachers will be celebrating your successes and guiding you to grow and learn through setbacks and failures.

Enjoy the Labor Day weekend and the remaining days of summer. We look forward to seeing you all in person or remotely on September 10th.


All the best!

Jeffrey S. Swiatowicz