Principal's Announcements » Principal's Announcements

Principal's Announcements

Ms. Ponella's Announcements School Year 2020-21

Good Afternoon LAMS Family Members,

Thank you to those who were able to attend our Parent Information Session last night and apologies to those who were not able to get into the meeting. Attached you will find the PowerPoint presentation that has information to help you make a decision to keep your child at home to learn remotely or to have them return to school in a blended learning model.  Please view the PowerPoint presentation for information that is not included in the Q&A below.

Since we finished the school year, I have been working with our School Leadership Team, PTA Executive Board, and School Re-opening Planning Committee to ensure we are adhering to NYC DOE and CDC guidelines to ensure your child is as safe as possible should you send your child back to in-person learning.  Their dedication, willingness to help think of a plan, edit the plan, revisit the plan, and give insight is greatly appreciated and vital to our reopening.  All three groups collectively consisted of parents, teachers, administrators, UFT representation, our amazing Parent Coordinator Ms. Cataldo and Building response Team members. I truly believe in giving honor where honor is due and I want to thank them for coming together to take on this Herculean task. It truly does take a village to raise a child and your voice matters.  I have been sending updates from our meetings and guidance documents via your Pupil Path email account. Please make sure you check your Pupil Path email account at least weekly.  If you are a new family to LAMS, Ms. Cataldo has been sending you the information from Pupil Path until you are able to set up a Pupil Path account.

As a leader, I take the health and safety of my students and staff very seriously. The other day, I was on the phone with a parent who had some concerns and questions about her options. During the conversation, I expressed to her that when I walk into our building or a class, I immediately place my son in that class and think how would I want him to be taught, treated, and most importantly is he safe.. Please know, I come with the heart of a parent in my leadership and collaborations.  There are many things that we do know at this time and many things we still don’t know and it will ultimately be your decision whether to send your child back to school or to keep your child at home to continue with remote learning. Considering, we do not have enough information or guidance at this time, it will not be an easy decision. But remember, we are Louis Armstrong.  We are strong.  We will continue to come together as a family and work through this together.  We need each other and we will continue to do what's best for your child and school staff.

I know the information presented and the Q&A below, doesn’t answer all your questions, but it is my hope that regardless of whatever you choose, your child is a member of our LAMS family and the same expectations of student achievement, nurturing the whole child, and most importantly keeping your child safe will be paramount.  Should schools reopen in the fall, we will be hosting another meeting prior to its reopening with precise protocols for your child’s first day, expectations, and health guidance and assurances.  Stay safe, continue to check the NYC DOE website, Pupil Path, and our School Website for updates.  Remember the deadline to apply for remote learning is tomorrow.  You can apply at

 Parent Questions and Answers - If you have additional questions, please know you can always reach out to me.

1.   If I choose remote learning, can my child be able to go back into blended learning?

Ans.  Yes.  Families will be given an opportunity quarterly to opt back into blended learning.

2.  Will students have their temperatures taken?

Ans.  We are waiting for guidance.  Since we are using multiple entrances for arrival and dismissal to ensure social distancing, that would require multiple people to at each egress/entrances.  We are also waiting for guidance on who can take the temperatures.  I would encourage parents to take their child’s temperatures each morning prior to coming to school for their health safety and the safety of others.

3.   Will children be required to wear masks?  Can they wear their own?

Ans.  Everyone will be required to wear masks, with exceptions for students who need medical accommodations.  I don’t think it would matter if a child wears their own mask as long as it covers their nose and mouth.  However, I will ask for clarification.  Also, masks will be provided for all schools.

4.  Can my child get detention for not wearing a mask?

Ans.  The masks are required unless your child has a medically excused condition.  The Chancellor stated that students who refuse to wear masks, the student will be sent home and receive remote learning.

5.   How do I make sure my child’s room is in a room with windows and ventilation?

Ans.  All schools have had their ventilation systems cleaned and air conditioning filters changed.  However, I have escalated my concerns about our school’s ventilation system.  Our 6-grade classrooms and a few other rooms have air conditioning units.  Our 7 and 8-grade classrooms do not.  Since heat rises, our third and fourth floors get extremely hot.  I went into the school this past week and used a temperature gun to take classroom temperatures.  The outdoor temperature was 86 degrees and some of the classrooms exceeded 95 degrees.  Considering adults and children will be required to wear masks, I consider this a health risk.  Only classrooms with windows will be used for instruction and/or AC. 

6.   Are all students using Google Classrooms?

Ans.  Yes, we are Google Classroom School.

7.   Will my child still receive breakfast and Lunch?

Ans. Yes, grab and go breakfast and lunch will be provided.  Students will have lunch during an instructional period in their classrooms.

8.   My child has a severe peanut allergy.  Are there going to be rooms without peanut butter?

Ans.  We take the health and safety of all our students seriously.  Yes. Accommodations will be made for children with food allergies.

9.  How do I find out about my child’s school bus?

Ans.  Once we receive more guidance for the DOE and OPT, Ms. Cataldo will be informing you of your child’s bus route.  Please know yellow buses have to adhere to CDC guidelines. Each bus will be running at 25% capacity.  The Mayor is encouraging parents who can provide transportation to do so.  I’m not sure if the MTA has to abide by the CDC guidelines.

10.  Do I have to give back my child’s iPad to his previous school? 

Ans.  No.  As long as your child is attending an NYC DOE public school, the iPad will stay with your child.  If your child does not have the technology to use to sign into their remote classes, a link will be sent via Pupil Path and the Website to order one from the DOE.

11.  How are you going to hold gym, band, chorus?

Ans.  These courses require 12 feet between students.  With smaller classes, gym will still be able to be held in the gymnasium and be held outside whenever possible (weather pending).  Band will be in the cafeteria.  Chorus will be held in the auditorium.

12.  Will there be more live teaching for remote learning?

Ans.  Yes.  Here at LAMS, our teachers are encouraged to go live.  They understand the value and the need to have a virtual face to face interactions with their students to get to know them well.

13.   Will LAMS teachers be teaching the remote classes?

Ans.  We are still waiting for guidance on this.  Currently, we have 24 staff members applying for reasonable accommodations to teach remotely in September,  and a few others who have not put in their paperwork.  I do not know who will be filling their place for in-person teaching nor if they will be teaching LAMS students remotely. I would hope they would remain teaching our LAMS students.  I have escalated this concern.

14.  When will students be able to go back and get their belongings from their lockers?

Ans.  We are still waiting for guidance on this.  It is my hope that it is sooner than later.  It will take a lot of coordination for our students to enter our building safely and have the needed staff on hand.

School Reopening Plans and Information 
New Student/Parent Orientation Video - Camp Armstrong  


Dear Parents:
As the Principal of Louis Armstrong Middle School, it is my sincere pleasure and honor to serve as a member of this great school community.  Louis Armstrong has a rich history of academic and cultural excellence.  This is a result of the strong collaborations and partnerships between administrators, teachers, parents, and community-based organizations that provide a diversity of experiences for your children.   

As a community of learners, we have envisioned bringing together culturally diverse children to help them grow academically, emotionally, physically, and socially.  This is ensured through rigorous and challenging academic programs and clubs geared towards social, emotional, and physical well-being.  

At Louis Armstrong Middle School, we foster and build upon the highest quality of instruction through collaboration with the school leadership team, parent-teacher association, instructional leadership team, staff, and students.  It is essential to our success to continue to strengthen the educational practices that best support students in reaching their goals and beyond by building on the school-wide goals and structures that are already working and in place. 

To continue in the spirit of excellence and collaboration, I look forward to collaborating with you to discuss the identified areas of success and the needs of our students and families. I believe in an open-door policy where parents, students, and staff are always welcome to come by and discuss their concerns and suggestions. 

Helen Ponella