LREI Plan for School Opening

Feel free to explore this site which includes information on LREI@Home, which is the remote learning plan that guided learning this past spring.

Click here to access links to a variety of sites showcasing student work and important events from the spring.

LREI@home Update #13 - June 1, 2020

LREI@home Update #13

June 1, 2020
Dear LREI Community, 
I hope this note finds you well. We are now officially in the home stretch. Please read all of the way through this letter. After I share some thoughts you will find three important notes – one focused on now, one on the summer, and one on the fall.
I was copied on an email yesterday that asked for us to think about how we can help the students sort out their thoughts and feelings, their goals, and opportunities for participation, when grappling with the protests happening now in response to the deaths of black men and women at the hands of the police and their fellow citizens. “How,” this mom asked, “can we help students figure out how to respond to and act upon the rage they are feeling?” This was a good question and I want to share a few thoughts in response.  
To begin, LREI reaffirms its deeply held belief in the equality and dignity of all people. Black Lives Matter and we must continue to demonstrate this in word and deed. We live this commitment in our policies and practices, and we can always do more. 
  1. First, the answer to the question above depends on your identity and that of your child/children. For families of color, and I am making an assumption here, many have ongoing discussions about race. For white families, again an assumption or maybe an educated guess, the percentage of families who have ongoing discussions about race and their family’s racial identity is likely lower. We who live in primarily white families have given ourselves the illusion of time to wait. We cause damage by doing so.
  2. Now is the moment to start or to re-start this conversation. I don’t think those of us who assume we are not touched by race or bias because of skin color, age, or economic status can choose to protect our children from the facts of racial life in America any longer. It is important to remember that our children learn from what we don’t say as much as from what we do say.  
  3. I imagine that what I feel now as a white man – the anger, fear, sadness, concern, and sense of powerlessness – is nothing compared to the ways in which many black and brown skinned people have these and/or other feelings every day. So maybe one answer to the question that was asked is, “Maybe these protests, maybe the rage you feel has brought you a little bit closer to knowing the rage of people who are criminalized due to their skin color, every day.”    
  4. Do something. What?  
    • See #2 above.
    • Join a protest.
    • Learn and share your learning. There are many ways to deepen your understanding of race, of your race, of bias, and of your biases. At this point, learning is not enough. It has to translate to action, to change the patterns of our beings, and the lenses through which we consume news and judge the world.  
    • Learn and find ways to have this conversation with your kids. Learn and join an LREI affinity group next year. Learn and find ways to engage on a wider level. 
    • Respond when a friend or loved one questions the motivation of the protestors or the rights of people of color.
    • Call or email your elected officials.
    • Vote.
  5. Protests? Should you allow your older children to attend protests? Given the centrality of the issue of race to our future, it seems hard to say, “No.” Given the actions taken by the authorities and the injuries to some participants, hard to say, “Yes.” Add a global pandemic on top of this and you have an incredibly fraught conversation/decision. This has to be left up to individual families to decide. Don’t hesitate to be in touch if we can help.
  6. Join the appropriate one of these discussions:
Is the world safe for me and the people I know?
Will this happen to me?
Will this happen to someone I know?

Join your LREI parent community on
Wednesday, June 3, 4:00 – 5:00 pm
in racial affinity groups for a discussion on
how to engage in conversations with your parent peers and with your children. 
White Parents – join the White Anti-Racist Parent Affinity Group (WARPAG). Zoom link on the Resource Page.
Parents of Color (Black, African American, Asian, Pacific Islanders, Latinx, Biracial, Multiracial, Native American)
To support your work, I share a few resources. These are by no means the only resources available, simply a few that I have found useful or that came recommended.  
Angela Davis (LREI ‘61) said, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”  We feel strongly that this needs to be the school’s orientation, as well. If you want to learn more about this distinction, I suggest reading Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist. LREI’s mission statement says that our students will graduate “as active participants in our democratic society.” One must actively oppose bigotry in order to fulfill this mission. Our diversity statement adds that, “LREI is committed to each of its community members, each of whom has a responsibility to both the community and the wider world.”  This statement seems to demand action at moments such as the one we are in. Throughout the school, teachers and students are having conversations, some in homeroom groups, some in affinity groups, and these will continue this week. It will also demand action in the future and we will create time and spaces for this in the weeks and months ahead.
To end where I began, the answer to the question that I was so glad to be asked is, continue your journey and bring your children along. Start talking about race and racism, justice, and injustice. Make this conversation one that you have frequently. Signal its importance. Already do? Keep going. Feeling rage? Good. You should. As Maya Angelou said, “The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.”
P.S. I have included music in a few of my letters to you in the past months. As I was checking the Maya Angelou quote to make sure I had it right, I found this song by one of my favorite gospel/rhythm/blues singers, Solomon Burke.  
  • As I noted in my letter last Thursday, we are putting together a new program, LREIremote, that will support those families that are reluctant to return to NYC or who have a family health situation that precludes a fall return to continue on at LREI. If you would like me to add your name to the list of families to whom I will send more information about this program, please let me know ASAP.  
  • This link will take you to the registration page for LREI Summer@home. You will find a long list of offerings for children of all ages, from the youngest right up through high school. There will be three two-week sessions, each class meeting each day, for a total of ten gatherings per class. Check it out!
  • As you heard from Board Chair Jim Harris on Friday, we are turning our full fund raising attention to the emergency coronavirus relief effort, The LREI 360 Support Fund. There are families in our community whose lives and livelihoods have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The LREI 360 Support Fund was created to help cover essential expenses, including food, rent, and healthcare. Additionally, we are now fielding unanticipated and unprecedented requests for tuition assistance for the next school year. Our school is here today because nearly 100 years ago, a group of parents gathered in a local ice cream parlor and pooled their funds to save it. We tell our students this story of our community’s resilience every Founders Day. We teach them to work together and care for one another. We see these values reflected in their actions inside the classroom, in the world around them, and now, via Zoom. At this time, we adults must also support one another. Your generosity shows that we are all in this together. You can make a gift here, via wire transfer, stock transfer, or at 
LREI@home Update #12 - May 28, 2020

LREI@home Update #12

May 28, 2020
Dear LREI Community, 
I hope that this note finds you well. As always, please be in touch as needed if we can be of additional or increased support.  

I write today with an update on our plans for the coming year. As I begin, it is important to remember that while we have identified our goals, the details of our plans are still being determined and that the 10+ weeks between the end of the ‘19-’20 school year and the beginning of the ‘20-’21 school year may bring added complications or offer unforeseen opportunities, likely both.  
We are so proud of all that the students and teachers have accomplished during our weeks of LREI@home. The true learning that has happened in such an unfamiliar context is proof that when reinforced by our progressive mission the relationship between teachers and students and the relationship between the students and the material they are encountering can transcend the challenges of distance.  
Throughout our time operating as LREI@home, we have been actively preparing for the fall. We have participated in conversations and presentations with colleagues in other schools in NYC and beyond. We have joined with our professional networks to investigate the requirements of a return to the buildings and we have gathered information from governmental agencies, health departments, and informed friends of the school.  
We are planning on being in the school buildings, in person, on the first day of school in September 2020. In order to do this, we will have to make changes to our schedule, to space use, and to customs and procedures that are very much a part of who we are. A few preliminary specifics, though very much still a work in process:
  • Lower school students will likely be in school for a full day. They will move about the building less than they have in the past, with teachers joining them in their classrooms instead.  
  • Middle school students will also travel less and may have staggered start and dismissal times to keep the density of students in the middle school lower than in the past.  
  • High school students will likely have a hybrid schedule – a mix of in-school instruction that will feel quite familiar and some days per week at home, participating online, again lowering the population in the building on any given day.
  • Many meetings and presentations will be done online.
  • Parents will have less access to the building and their children’s classroom(s).  
  • We will minimize visitors.
  • Large gatherings will be reorganized.
We will also institute a number of health and hygiene procedures. These will conform to the guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and other guidance we have received and will receive in the coming weeks. Our efforts in this area will be led by Ava Dawson, our lead nurse, and a frequent consultant to other schools on a variety of health topics, including reopening.  
  • We will require hand washing several times per day.
  • We will take student/adult temperatures at the beginning of every day. 
  • We will reinforce the importance of staying home when sick, including extending the time of the required absence due to fever. 
  • We are instituting new cleaning routines in all buildings.  
We will be following the requirements and recommendations of the CDC and the NYC Department of Health and we will communicate what they are before opening in the fall. This list of precautions and practices will continue to evolve in the coming weeks.
As you can see we are well on our way to a safe return in September. It is possible that our plans for an in-person return will be disrupted by NY State deciding to close schools again or by a prudent decision on our part if there is an emergent situation. We are also evaluating the experience of LREI@home over the past eight weeks in order to be prepared if we are required to move back to LREI@home at some point in the ‘20-’21 school year.  
A number of families have inquired about the possibility of remote learning for the whole year due to a reluctance to return to NYC or a family health situation. If you are in this category and we have yet to speak, please be in touch with me. 
I want to take a moment to thank the members of LREI’s Board of Trustees, all of whom have truly kept the school’s mission in trust during the past few months. Working with the Board’s Finance and Executive Committee, we are focused on protecting LREI’s financial health and, more importantly, the people in our community. There will be much asked of all members of the community as we move into and through the current economic disruption. Our goal is to minimize its impact on the people in the community and the parts of the educational program that are core to LREI’s mission. One thing is clear, our financial assistance budget line will have to expand significantly to accommodate a number of families whose finances have been compromised by the crisis. 
As I reflect on other times that challenged our school, both those that were of the natural world and those that were man-made, in each moment it is the school’s mission, its belief in the greater good, the care that we take in each other, in justice and equity, and our dedication to hard work and perseverance that has seen us through our troubles. This will be true in our current situation, as well. I have been humbled by the resilience, talent, and humanity that I have witnessed each day since the beginning of March. I expect to be no less moved and no less impressed in what our community will bring to the months to come.  
Finally, I invite you to a last live Community Conversation of the school year on Tuesday, June 9th, at 7:00 p.m. You will be able to find the Zoom link on the LREIConnect Resource Page.  
Do not hesitate to be in touch.
Peace and health,
Two Notes
Spring Concert
I invite all of you to join me for Friday evening’s Spring concert featuring LREI’s choral and instrumental ensembles.  You can join the concert’s premiere at 6:30 p.m.  I will send a link home on Friday. You can find a concert program at this link.
Summer Opportunities
Within a few days, we will be sending home a list of summer classes and activities taught by LREI faculty and staff.  There are opportunities for students of all ages.  Very exciting!
LREI@home Update #11 - May 26, 2020

LREI@home Update #11

May 26, 2020
Dear LREI Community,
I hope this weekly message finds you well and finding meaning and comfort in our very challenging time. As always, please do not hesitate to be in touch if you need our support in any way at all.
I set out this school year to write a series of messages focused on essential components of LREI’s mission. Thus far I have written two of these pieces. The first focused on the school’s mission overall and the second shared thoughts on what Bryan Stevenson calls, “Getting proximate.”  The third, today’s, I began writing in February with a focus on the school’s equity, inclusion, and social justice mission.
After beginning quarantine and LREI@home I re-read my earlier draft which almost overnight had become both more and less relevant. As I re-examined my thoughts I realized that I did not have to look too far to find current examples of ways in which the issues of race, ethnicity, geography, and class have played out in the patterns of exposure, illness, healthcare, and mortality in our coronavirus world.
Earlier in the school year, we had several parent gatherings focused on the NY Times’s 1619 Project during which we discussed this dynamic investigation into, and explication of, the systemic racism that grew out of that moment in 1619 when the first enslaved African was dragged onto the shores of North America. Today we see tentacles of this heritage playing out in the patterns of who is getting sick, who can access healthcare, where resources are plentiful and where not, employment/unemployment, transportation, who is living, and who is dying.  We see similar ignorance and bigotry with where blame is being placed for the situation in which we find ourselves. While there are tragedy and grief enough for all identities to feel the virus’s impact, there are current patterns that conform to those that are all too familiar from the old normal.
In order for your children to truly integrate their growing store of skills and content area knowledge into their widening understanding of the complex world in which we live, they have to be able to acknowledge and have an ever-deepening understanding of the origins of the ways in which our society operates. This is why, in large part, as a progressive school we teach “social studies” and not simply history in our lower and middle school divisions, and why our high school history classes focus on past, present, and future. Investigating past events is important – seeing them in relation to those that came before and those that came after. Examining these events, these people, these places in context is an essential companion. To understand how these events impact the now, to understand how we can use history to chart a brighter future, requires a deep understanding of the relationships between the people involved and of the systems within which they lived and live.
In Democracy and Education, John Dewey, American philosopher, and Elisabeth Irwin’s mentor, wrote that the “state” must face, “the tendencies due to present economic conditions which split society into classes some of which are made merely tools for the higher culture of others.”  He continued: “…the question is concerned with the reconciliation of national loyalty, of patriotism, with superior devotion to the things which unite men in common ends, irrespective of national political boundaries.”
If the “undoing” of the systems that divide and oppress, the undoing of all that we see playing out every day in the country’s struggle with the coronavirus and yet another race driven murder, for example, is the responsibility of the “state,” than schools are the tools through which we can provide opportunities for children to grapple with these issues as they move into the majority and become a part of Dewey’s “state.” Examining our world in an honest fashion with students of all ages is essential if the children are to lead us to a future that does not repeat the sins of our collective past.
LREI’s program leverages all that children learn in school and examines it within the context of the real world in all of its beauty and ugliness. The goal is to set the children on a path towards active citizenship, in service to their own needs and dreams and, hopefully equally so, to those of their fellow humans.
Acknowledging that we, as an institution, are part of the world, shaped by it and responsible for it, LREI will continue to examine its own principles and practices, division by division, office by office, to make sure that we are truly providing the full LREI experience to all students and families regardless of identity. We have made significant changes to the ways in which we operate and will continue to grow and change, just as we ask our students to do.
Our hope is that the community of adults will challenge itself to grow alongside the community of children. The adult LREI community has to do this work in order to relate effectively to each other and so that we can support our children as they grow into a world we can hardly imagine. If we model a deep and abiding respect for all, for our shared humanity, we will provide yet another example from which our children can learn. This work happens every day at LREI and has grown in the recent past and continues even though we are separated. We must make sure it continues in the future.
We are convinced that through our program your children will learn more deeply, connect more honestly, and understand the world more clearly and critically. They will not be consigned to a future that is reminiscent of the past nor modeled solely on their present. They will be able to work towards a future that is honest and just and of their own design.
At this moment, the vast majority of Americans believe in the need for mutual care, that we are all in this together; that wearing masks and staying inside, that forgoing our individual wants for our collective needs, is best for each and all. Will we allow ourselves to leverage these generous beliefs in this moment of naked inequality and bias?  Will we see our current state as one of opportunity and move to a place where the vast majority of us believe, and act upon the belief, that what is best for each of us is best for all of us, not just when it comes to masks, but also in education and healthcare and housing and economic opportunity, and on and on? Can we come together around the idea that if we each work for justice we will all be saved?
A final thought for today. Much of LREI’s work on this front has, for the past 13 years, been inspired and led by our director of equity and community, Dr. Sandra Chapman. As you know, Chap will be leaving LREI at the end of the school year. We are grateful for all that Chap has inspired us to accomplish during her time at LREI. We will miss her wisdom, her deep knowledge, her work ethic, her devotion to a just future, and the faith that she has in children. Leading this work is hard. Chap doesn’t try to make it look easy, rather she models perseverance. She has taught us that if something is truly right, you must never give up. It is important to acknowledge that the bulk of Chap’s time was spent leading efforts that may well be a life’s work. I think she would say that we can become a more just school and that we can be part of a more just society AND that this will be hard AND that there will always be more to do. Inspired by Chap, we will strive for justice. We will ask all to participate. We will keep on.
By Osibisa
We are going
Heaven knows where we are going,
But we know within
And we will get there
Heaven knows how we will get there
But we know we will. 
It will be hard we know
And the road will be muddy and rough
But we’ll get there
Heaven knows how we will get there
But we know we will. 
*Woyaya means “we keep going” in a Ghanaian language called Ga.

[If you are interested, you can find the first two mission-focused messages on my blog, Get Your Phil, at  The first was published on November 22, 2019 and the second on January 23, 2020.
LREI@home Update #10 ( '20-'21 FAQ) - May 12, 2020

LREI@home Update #10

To: LREI Families

From: Phil Kassen, Director

Re: FAQ Follow up to My 5/6/20 Community Conversation

Date: May 12, 2020

Hello.  Many of you joined me for a Community Conversation ten days or so ago.  For those who missed this event, this link will take you to a recording.  Below you will find a summary of my general comments  and answers to frequently asked questions. 


  • I continue to be proud of the work the students and teachers are doing together in their LREI@home classes.  We are grateful for everyone’s hard work and resilience.
  • The teachers and principals are planning, remaking, and/or creating end-of-year events.  You will hear about these from your child’s teachers/principal.  All will be listed on the LREI@home calendar on the LREI Connect Resource Page.  
  • Plans are underway for fourth grade and eighth grade moving up ceremonies.  Stay tuned.  
  • We have all sorts of plans for end-of-year events for our twelfth graders. We are so sad for the impact that not being together has had on their senior year.  The students have been involved in some of these plans and other plans will be a surprise. Shh!
  • Mark your calendars for the 2020 College Panel, a time for lower and middle school families to hear about LREI’s college guidance process from members of the senior class and from Carey Socol, Co-Director of College Guidance. This conversation will not focus on the more specific questions that tend to be on the minds of high school families. Thursday, May 21, 10 a.m.  Link on the LREI@home calendar on the LREI Connect Resource page.
  • Field Day will be held on Friday, May 22. A group of students and teachers are busy planning this event and we look forward to your child’s participation.  There are no classes on this day and Field Day will end in the late morning, before the extended Memorial Day Weekend. Schedules and links will be sent home shortly and all will be posted on the LREI@home calendar on the LREI Connect Resource page.

Looking Ahead

  • Our planning for the fall is well underway. While it is hard to predict what the State, the City, and/or prudence will require, we are planning for a number of contingencies.  We are eager and ready to welcome students back into the school buildings while at the same time we are prepared to teach remotely through LREI@home should that become necessary. When we are “live” in-person in the buildings, school will be organized in ways that facilitate more physical distance between students/adults.  This may require changes to customs that are very much a part of who we are.  
  • There will likely be additional health/hygiene practices.  
  • Depending on the policies and recommendations from governmental agencies, schedules might need to limit the number of students/adults in the building at any given time.  Some activities might be restricted. Procedures might be changed. For instance, certain adult oriented events might move online or be altered.  We are evaluating all that we do each day and will be prepared. 
  • The three divisions may well have different schedules and procedures in order to make school safe and to provide a successful and age-appropriate learning experience. 
  • We are planning for the possibility that at some point, for some period of time, we might be required to go back into “shelter in place” and to teach through LREI@home.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will the school year start earlier?  During the summer?
      • We are not planning on starting earlier in the summer. 
  • How are the school’s spaces being used?
      • We are examining the use of all spaces, especially our larger spaces, to see if these spaces can help provide opportunities for physical distancing.
  • Will families be able to choose to go to school online even if school is open in-person?
      • As I said during our conversation, this is among the more complex challenges we are currently discussing. We are evaluating it both from a technological and pedagogical standpoint. I will report back on this later in our planning process.
  • Will LREI screen students’ health regularly?
      • We will comply with all local, state, and federal requirements. We will take all steps recommended by our advisors. We will strengthen our efforts directed at educating families about keeping sick children home.  
      • There was a question during the conversation about vaccines. We will follow state law and require all mandated vaccines.  
  • Two thoughts here.  1) If there is a vaccine that is not mandated by the state it may be difficult for a school to legally require it. 2) If your child is at an age when there are required vaccines, please make sure to make appointments to address this prior to returning to school in the fall.   
  • If the school’s schedule changes what about working parents? 
      • This question is very much a part of our planning process and is one reason that the different divisions may have different solutions to the challenges we face in the fall.  
  • One of the last questions was about Governor Cuomo’s comments about NY State working with the Gates Foundation to reimagine education and our opinion on this.  
    • As I said last week, I find it hard to imagine any full time online education for children that is consistently more effective than an in-person education.  That said, I work to keep an open mind and I look forward to the results of the investigation done by the intelligent and knowledgeable people involved. 

As we plan for the fall, what will guide our work?

  • LREI’s Mission Statement and Diversity Statement
  • Connections and consistency between departments and divisions – the whole must be greater than the sum of its parts.  
  • This is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to become our best collective self and to continue to demonstrate that progressive education, and an abiding belief in justice, will make for the most effective and long-lasting educational experience.     

Thank you for your participation and attention.  As always, if you have questions do not hesitate to be in touch with me or with whomever you are most comfortable speaking.  

Peace and health,


LREI@home Update #9 - May 11, 2020

LREI@home Update #9

May 11, 2020
Dear LREI Community,
As always, I hope this note finds you and your family well. Please do not hesitate to be in touch if there is any way that LREI can offer support.
There are many events scheduled for the next few weeks. Links to these events will be posted on the LREI@home Community Events calendar. Visit LREI Connect and click on Resources.
Mark your calendars for the 2020 College Panel, a time for lower and middle school families to hear about LREI’s college guidance process from members of the senior class and from Carey Socol, Co-Director of College Guidance. This conversation will not focus on the more specific questions that tend to be on the minds of high school families. Thursday, May 21, 10 a.m.
The invitation below comes from LREI with the support of LREI’s volunteer archivist, trustee, and sixth grade mom Yukie Ohta.  Please read it and we strongly encourage your whole family to participate.
LREI@home Quarantine Time Capsule
We are living through a historic moment. People will be studying and learning about this moment in time for years to come.
You have the power to shape history by contributing to the LREI@home Quarantine Time Capsule, a digital record of how we, as a community and as individuals, lived through the coronavirus pandemic.
The contents of this time capsule will answer these questions:
  • How can we help the students of the future get as close as possible to the experiences we are having now?
  • What is your everyday life like under quarantine?
  • What extraordinary things happened to you or to others around you that would not have during ordinary times?
We are asking for submissions from all members of our community – students, faculty, parents, alumni, and friends.
You may, but are not required to, create something new for this time capsule. You can simply take a photo of what is on your desk or what you see outside your window, copy a recent poem you wrote, or share your go-to dinner recipe as your submission. Or you can make something that reflects your current experience in any way.
Your submissions can be, but are not limited to:
  • Photographs
  • Video
  • Artwork (drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, etc.)
  • Writing (journal, poem, story, etc.)
  • Letter to your future self or to future LREI students
  • Audio (song, Moth-type stories, etc.)
  • Oral history interview (on your phone or via StoryCorps connect)
  • Map (of your house, of your new, smaller world)
  • Recipe (what is your quarantine comfort food?)
Important: Please make sure to include your name, the date, your grade or relationship to LREI, and a caption that explains your submission in as much detail as possible.
Your submissions will be kept in the LREI archives so that future students and other historians can learn about what happened during LREI@home.
If your submission will be an interview, you might want to consider using StoryCorps Connect, a remote recording App through which you can include your interview in the StoryCorps archive.
We also see this as an opportunity to connect as a community in the current moment. If you are comfortable with your submission(s) being shared in an online gallery visible to the LREI community, please indicate so when submitting.
Email submissions and questions to:
LREI@home Update #8 - May 7, 2020

LREI@home Update #8

May 7, 2020
Dear LREI Families, 
A second note from me this week. Thanks to the principals for allowing me to write on their day. More importantly, thank you to the principals for their work every day and, of course, to the teachers for their incredible work with our children in these very challenging circumstances. (Check out this beautiful video homage to the teachers’ work with your students.)
If you were unable to join yesterday’s community conversation, you can watch the video here.  If you have questions after watching this video, please do not hesitate to be in touch.  
As you know, on our way out of the buildings in mid-March we had to cancel this year’s celebration of Founders Day. Here is a synopsis for those unfamiliar with the events through which we celebrate Elisabeth Irwin. Each year on the Friday before Spring Break the children spend time with their buddies, attend our annual Founders Day assembly, and have an ice cream treat. The ice cream, again for the uninitiated, helps us to commemorate the moment when Little Red School House families gathered in an ice cream parlor to drum up support for Miss Irwin’s “experiment” during its transition from a public school to an independent school.  
The centerpiece of the assembly is the Founders Day play, written by former colleague Meryl Danziger. The play has villains and heroines, drama, and humor. It is an exciting and downright stirring story about intelligence, creativity, passion, and a drive to have an impact on the world. And, for the past few years, it has had music. Each year, Elisabeth Irwin (a.k.a Suzanne Cohen, seventh grade humanities teacher) has written a song to enliven the drama. Last year, Suzanne invited the then student body president to join her in this performance.  She had planned to do the same this year.  And then…. canceled. Not so fast. Thanks to the magic of digital technology, Suzanne and student body president Michelle Mardones were able to perform their duet so that we are all able to enjoy a slice of this year’s Founders Day play.  
Thank you, Suzanne and Michelle. So generous of you to share this with us. You are wonderful.
Click on the image below and sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
Be well, 
LREI@home Update #7 - May 4, 2020

LREI@home Update #7

May 4, 2020
Dear LREI Community,
I hope this note finds you and yours well and finding new ways to successfully navigate this complex time. Please, if there is any way that we can be of support, do not hesitate to be in touch.
We are solidly in the second half of LREI@home 2020. I am so grateful for the hard work, creativity, expertise of our faculty and staff and the spirited engagement of our students.  I feel fortunate to be working with and within this community in this situation.
Two notes from me and then a really important note from the school’s outstanding librarians.
  1. Thank you to those of you who have joined me in the mornings for coffee and spirited conversation. From time to time I have had to miss these events and have not had a good way to inform you that I could not host the conversation on a particular morning.  Going forward we will list these gatherings on the LREI@home calendar on the LREI@home Resource Page on LREI Connect. Hope to see you soon.
  1.  I hope you can join me for a second community conversation on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m.  You can find a link to this conversation on the LREI@home resource page. I will share some thoughts about LREI@home and our planning for the coming months and will answer questions. If you have a question feel free to email me before Wednesday. If you like, you can simply respond to this communication.
May the Fourth Be With You,

Dear Families,
Greetings from your LREI Librarians! While we miss seeing all of you in the library, we have loved connecting with you and your children online through read alouds, storytimes, research classes, the parent book club, and reader’s advisory interviews.
Speaking of reader’s advisory, we have noticed that many families are looking for new reading material as we continue to navigate these extraordinary times. We want to highlight some online sources where you and your children can find your next great read.
Between LREI and the three public library systems of NYC (BPL, QPL, and NYPL — which covers Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island), a wealth of e- and audiobooks are available to each of you! The LREI collection (focused on grades 7 & up) is accessible via browser or through the free SORA app. All you need is a library ID number, which you will find printed on student ID cards, or that you can get by asking any member of our library team. Meanwhile, to access the vast collections of our public library systems, you just need a library card — and happily, all three systems have e-cards available for e-access! You can find more details about getting and using a digital library card on our enrichment guide.
All of these options allow for download to a computer or mobile device, and ebooks can also be sent to a Kindle or loaded onto any other simple e-reader like a Nook or a Kobo. If you haven’t yet dipped a toe into the waters of e-reading and want to discuss devices or anything else, Karyn has tested a number of different devices and would be happy to talk you through the options, and can also help with any questions related to accessing the LREI e-library on SORA.
Many additional digital book sources that are usually “subscription-only” have eliminated their fees for the duration of the quarantine. Books on these services are available in both audio and e-formats. Epic is currently offering a free month of access for families. They have over 40,000 titles and a great selection for ages 12 & under. Abdo has a large collection of non-fiction, also for ages 12 & under, and includes a selection of titles in Spanish as well. Junior Library Guild has opened up its vetted collection across all ages through May 31 and has an excellent high school collection in addition to materials for lower and middle school.
If you prefer print and you’re interested in purchasing books, this is a great time to support independent bookshops! Like your stalwart librarians, these bookshops are still available to you even though you might not be able to visit them physically. Bookshop is a one-stop shop for getting books delivered and for supporting independent bookshops (your local shop will profit from your purchase), and if you need to find out which indie bookstore is your local, Indiebound can connect you to these stores and help you find the print, audio and e-books you’re looking for.
Whether you are interested in getting or renewing a library card, checking out e- or audio- books to a personal device, purchasing a physical book online, or just seeking guidance on what to read next, the LREI library team is here for you! You can email any of us with questions or to set up a Zoom appointment regarding any of these matters, we are eager to help.
Finally, stay tuned for the summer reading lists, which will be coming your way soon!
We’ll see you in the “e” library,
LREI@home Update #6 - April 29, 2020

LREI@home Update #6

April 29, 2020
Dear LREI Community,

This is one of those moments that while you know it is coming you desperately hope that the world will tilt your way, even though it would require defying the laws of physics, or biology, to do so. The New York City Department of Education decided a few weeks ago that the public schools will remain in distance learning mode for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. Our Governor announced that the state will remain in PAUSE, requiring schools to teach remotely, until at least May 15. NY State’s plan for reopening will not begin in NYC, will proceed slowly, and may require a two-week period between phases.  After conversations with LREI’s Board of Trustees, the administrative leadership team, and members of the faculty/staff, I have decided that we will continue with LREI@home for the remainder of this school year. The last day of school for the 2019-2020 school year, for all students, will be Friday, June 5, 2020.
A frustrating and disheartening decision to be sure, though not surprising nor hard to make. We have to trust those with greater access to the science involved to guide us. If keeping New York City’s school children home for the remainder of the school year, continuing our physical distancing, will make us all safer in the long run, we will join this effort.
If, as I hope, the laws of the universe do tilt in our direction and we can find some way to gather safely in early June for parts of a day or two, for small groups of adults and children to see each other, to say “Hello” and “So long,” we will do so. I would so dearly love to end the year in person, even if we are only together for a very short period of time. If they occur, these days will not be mandatory teaching/learning days.
In the coming days, the school’s administration and faculty will consider the calendar and may continue to adjust our LREI@home plans. Stay tuned for any changes. What does this decision mean for end-of-the-year traditions, most notably LREI’s 75th commencement exercises? As I wrote on Monday, we are rethinking the schedule and format for all spring events. There are a number of possibilities – canceling, postponing, creating new “virtual” traditions, or some combination of the last two. We are currently working with students, faculty, and families to create alternative moving-up and graduation celebrations. We thank you for your patience while we evaluate our options.
We know that learning at home, from a distance, can be a challenge for families, for students, and for our faculty, though we hope it is becoming more routine. I want to take a moment to thank LREI’s faculty and staff for their tireless work, their generosity, and their expertise. Also, thank you to all families for continuing these essential efforts with a spirit shared purpose and commitment to learning about our ever more complex world.
Peace and health,

LREI@home Update #5 - April 27, 2020

LREI@home Update #5
April 27, 2020

Dear LREI Community,
I hope that this note finds you healthy and comfortable. As we enter week five of LREI@home it seems that many have reached the fortunate and unfortunate moment where distance learning has become routine. Unfortunate as I do not want this to be our typical life, though it has become so. Fortunate as our students are settling in and learning.  
Now that we are settled in we can turn a greater level of attention to the coming months. Many of you have asked about our plans for the remainder of this year, and for the summer and fall. I am going to ask for your patience for just a little longer. I will be in touch quite soon to share our thoughts about the rest of this school year, how we are thinking about the possibility of some number of us being together for some amount of time. We are rethinking the schedule and format for spring events in all three divisions. Of greatest importance, we are working with students, faculty, and families to create alternative graduation celebrations for June, with dates for in-person graduation ceremonies shared as soon as possible. Soon thereafter, we will share our thoughts about summer and fall.  
I want to inform/remind you of upcoming live events. 
Dr. Sandra (Chap) Chapman, Director of Equity and Community, will be hosting a discussion in her series, “Raising Race Conscious Children.” You do not have to have participated in the other conversations in this series to join this one, which I strongly encourage you to do. In her note to you on April 17, Chap wrote:
“We will use the documentary film, I’m Not a Racist…Am I? as our focus for the April 29 evening parent equity session. This film was divided into 8 learning modules by Point Made Films and you can access this film for free until April 30. This online learning experience on race and racism can be found by clicking the link below.
Each module builds on the last, however, for the purpose of our April 29 session, we will focus on Modules 1, 2, 3, and 6.”
PA Open Equity Meeting
Raising Race Conscious Children, Part 3 of 3
Wednesday, April 29, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Zoom link can be found here.
For much more information on this gathering, click here. “
Divisional gatherings for parents with the school psychologists are scheduled as follows:
    • Lower School –  Tuesday, May 5, 5:00 PM| Faith’s Room 
    • Middle School – Tuesday, April 28, 5:30 PM | Ana’s Room  
    • High School –    Monday, May 4, 5:30 PM| Allison’s Room 
For more information on the divisional gatherings, click here.
I invite you to join me on May 6 at 7 PM. I will share a few thoughts and will answer questions. As we did last time, if you have questions now, please send them to me ahead of time. In addition, if there is time we will answer questions generated when we are together. I will send a link to this event shortly.  
Finally, from high school drama teacher Joan Jubett:
Teaching theater in isolation is an interesting conundrum. Theater thrives on live performance, with hearts, minds and bodies in the same space sharing experiences, stories, insights (and learning). Connection is everything. In the present moment, we continue to look for ways to stay present and connected with one another. 
No stranger to self-isolation, William Shakespeare wrote three tragedies in 1606 (Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra and King Lear), while London reeled from The Gunpowder Plot and the bubonic plague.
Last Thursday, April 23rd, was Shakespeare’s 456th Birthday. In celebration, a number of students and faculty across divisions paid their birthday respects by quoting the prolific Bard through submitted video snippets, all of which have been compiled here. Here’s hoping it gives you a lift or moment of connection today.
LREI@home Update #4 - April 20, 2020

LREI@home Update #4

April 20, 2020
Dear LREI Community,
I trust that you are well and that your family and friends are healthy. Please be sure to contact me or whoever at LREI with whom you are most comfortable speaking if there is anything we can do to support your family.
Wednesday is Earth Day. Not just any Earth Day, it is the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. Check out for all sorts of really interesting information and for a fascinating history of the day. I can imagine that if we were able to move about safely many of us, and surely many of the students, would be planning on taking some sort of action on Wednesday – protesting, learning, teaching.
Certainly, LREI’s Sustainable LREI committee would have invited us to participate in some gathering. (Follow SustainableLREI on Instagram at “sustainablelrei.”) Alas, we are not able to go out, to gather, to join together with one voice in defense of our home. So what to do?
Here are a few thoughts from me (and know that I am not an expert) on how you can use your time at home to observe Earth Day (and every other day). At LREI we don’t serve meat on Mondays. Meat production comes with a significant environmental cost.  Decreasing meat production would have a positive environmental impact. That said, there are ways to mitigate the impact that eating meat has on the environment and meat is an important part of many people’s diets.  This is a complex issue. If you are of the mind, it is worth contemplating.
Looking for simple rules regarding diet?  Michael Pollan has three:
    • Eat food.  (Less processed and closest to the way you find it at its source.)
    • Not too much. 
    • Mostly plants.
    • (He also has another list with 83 rules.  If you are interested you can find it on the web.  Google it.)
  • Energy – Conserve energy any way you can.  (No, I don’t mean by sitting and doing nothing all day!) The impact of nonrenewable energy use may be the most important issue on which to focus.
  • Transportation – Consider the ways you move about. Energy used in transportation has a significant impact on the environment. How can you minimize the energy you use moving from place to place? This is a hard one.
  • Think about what is important to you in terms of the environment and climate change and factor these into the ways you engage politically.
  • I have included a list of suggestions from the high school’s environmental club. Good ideas, all.
It is important to remember that whether we are talking about coronavirus (not unrelated to a number of environmental issues) or climate change, there is a significant intersection with equity and justice. The results of climate change impact the marginalized to a greater degree and with fewer options for ameliorating them than for those whose power and privilege excuse them to some degree from current and impending challenges.  Options and possibilities for healthier living and choices that create a sustainable future are also not equally available.
For many, these days of quarantine allow somewhat greater control over our lives. The pace of life, again not for all, has slowed and we can make decisions that are less influenced by the requirements of a fast-paced, busy life. Maybe, with some thought, patience, and commitment these changes can become our new ways of being, even after we move back to our working, hustling, bustling lives.  This won’t be easy, but is likely worth working towards.

Want to learn more? has a list of the “13 Must Read Books on the Environment and Climate Change.”  You can also listen to this week’s New Yorker Radio Hour, which includes an interview with Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert. Interesting stuff.
Looking forward to hearing from you or seeing you soon.
Peace and health,
LREI@home Update #3 - April 13, 2020

LREI@home Update #3

April 13, 2020
Dear LREI Community,

Good afternoon. I hope that this message finds you well. I write today with updates and invitations.  
  • We want to thank all of you for your supportive and honest feedback on your child’s experience and your family’s experience of LREI@home. As we move into the coming weeks, know that LREI@home will continue to evolve and grow and that experiences are quite different student to student, family to family. In order to more formally gather your input, we have created this survey focused on your current LREI@home experience. Thank you in advance for completing it in the next week.
  • A little over a week ago a number of you inquired about security issues regarding the online platforms that we are using as part of LREI@home.  Mark Silberberg, Director of Learning and Innovation, and Jacob Farkas, Director of Technology put together this response. Thanks to both of them and to the school’s tech support team (Toby Zitsman and Matthew Milton) and technology integrators (Celeste Dorsey, Clair Segal, and Joy Piedmont) for all they have done and do each day to allow LREI@ home to function smoothly and effectively.

  • We have taken down the daily calendar typically found at and replaced it with a calendar focused on our work as LREI@home. You can find the LREI@home calendar here or by going to and clicking on “Calendars/Forms” and then “Daily Calendar.”  
  • On the new LREI@home calendar you can find links to this week’s divisional gatherings for parents hosted by the divisional principals and psychologists, among other upcoming events. 
  • You can find recordings of last week’s “Back to School” gatherings with the principals on the LREI@home Resource page on Connect.  
Finally, we will be in touch regarding plans for the remainder of the school year shortly. As per my email this past weekend, while we have been discussing this question internally and will make a decision fairly soon, we chose to take a little more time to make the decision in a manner that fits our typical manner rather than according to a schedule dictated by the City. We will, again, be in touch about this question soon.
Be well and keep in touch,
LREI@home Update #2 - April 6, 2020

LREI@home Update #2

April 6, 2020
Dear LREI Community,
I hope that this email finds you and your family healthy and comfortable. Thank you to all who have been in touch with questions or concerns, or simply to check in. Thank you as well to those who joined our community conversation on Thursday.  If you missed this “gathering” you can find a recording here. It was such a pleasure to see so many familiar faces, especially those of the children who joined us for a few minutes.
A few thoughts from me and then a message from the school’s psychologists.
  • Earlier this afternoon Gov. Cuomo extended NY PAUSE until April 29, this includes extending school closures until at least the 29th. Accordingly, LREI will be operating as LREI@home until at least April 29.
  • A number of you have asked questions regarding security on Zoom, one of the platforms we are using for LREI@home. Zoom has made a number of recent security upgrades and we have changed some of the ways we are configuring our Zoom meetings/meeting rooms. We will share a full rundown of these security fixes tomorrow.
  • I will be available for drop-in conversations with families on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 8:45a.m.-9:15a.m. You can find a link to my Zoom meeting room and a password at this link.  If you have concerns at other times, feel free to email or call, as always.
  • I am asking LREI’s employees to take a break from email, if at all possible, after business hours, over the weekends, and on days when school is not in session. If you email your child’s teacher, a member of the business office, etc. after business hours or on a day off from school you may not hear back until the next school day. If the matter is an urgent one, please email me and I will respond to your issue or will make contact with the person who can.
  • Finally, I am so grateful for the many artists who have made content available online. In trying times, literature, music, the fine and performing arts, etc. are places of both comfort and beauty, of expression and discourse. You can find a number of artistic and cultural resources (and many other opportunities) at and clicking on LREI@home or by following this link. You might enjoy these offerings from the NY Philharmonic, this challenge from the Getty Museum, new monologues written and performed in 24 hours, or listening to one of  the many books available free from Audible and, of course, from NYC’s great public libraries (NY, Brooklyn, Queens).  Don’t forget to check out @lrei_charlton_library on Instagram for a link to a live Hamilton singalong on Friday.
From LREI’s psychologists:
Hello LREI families,
Welcome back! We are excited to be back from spring break and are so glad to reconnect with you and your children, even if it is virtually. We are thinking of you as you live through these unusual times. We want you to know we are here for support and any mental health resources you may need.
Greetings to our students and families.
We are excited to announce that we’ll be hosting parent forums for each division starting the week of April 13th. The meetings will be a place for you to share your experiences, ask questions, and just be with the parent community.  We will share dates and times for these gatherings as soon as possible.
If you would like to connect with us individually, we can be reached at:
Take care and be well,
Alexis and Judy
Telephone/Online Mental Health Resources, if needed:
Counseling Support
Manhattan Psychology Group:

888-NYC-WELL (888-692-9355), text 65173,
William Alanson White Institute:
Crisis Text Line:
text HOME to 741741
(Contact us if you would like more information or resources)
LREI@home Update #1 - March 25, 2020
LREI@home Update #1
March 25, 2020
Dear LREI Community, 
Hello from the last days of Spring Break ‘20, with a few days to go before the beginning of LREI@home on Tuesday, March 31. (We added one day to spring break to give our faculty and staff time to meet together to prepare for the transition to our online selves.) You will receive more information about LREI@home from the principals on Friday and Monday. I send this note primarily to check in and to let you know that we, all of us at LREI, are thinking about you, students, families, and colleagues, keeping you in our thoughts and looking forward to a time in the future when we will see each other in person.
We sit here, each of us in our homes, trying to understand the world’s situation, grappling with our individual and collective concerns, checking in with family and friends, all from a distance. How strange this feels to be in a moment when our instincts tell us to rush towards each other, to cling together as a our communities, to be “there” for each other, that we have to be there by being apart, by being here. As we head towards LREI@home we may feel the same sense of otherworldliness, of our school-world being turned topsy-turvy, asking how can you do LREI at home?
I could not be prouder of the work that the faculty and administrative staff have done in the past few weeks. They have worked to translate their vibrant classrooms into LREI@home. Your children will begin to experience the product of this work early next week. In addition, early next week you will begin to learn of our plans for other community events, for adults and children, with new opportunities coming on line as we plan them. As I speak with and listen to educators from schools all over the country, one thing is clear, those students who are in schools with what we would call a more progressive, inclusive, active program seem to be having an easier time adapting to being online, to learning in a manner that is novel for them. This is not a surprise to us.
As we care for our community we think about those whose lives and livelihoods have been especially impacted by the pandemic. To support these community members we have created the LREI 360 Support Fund. The LREI 360 Support Fund is a designated fund intended to give the director of the school the means to provide immediate financial assistance to students, families, faculty, and staff who have lost part or all of their income and have essential living expenses that they cannot meet as a result of the pandemic. Over the next few months, this fund will support unanticipated, critical needs that require a timely and compassionate response. If you have a need for assistance please contact me or the member of the school’s administration with whom you are most comfortable speaking.
  • The LREI 360 Support Fund is separate from the Fund for LREI, which supports financial aid and program.
  • To contribute to the LREI 360 Support Fund, please visit
    (Click on “Give Now,” scroll down to “Gift Details” to find “LREI 360 Support Fund.”)
In addition, lower school dad John Samuels is offering his services as a healthcare advisor with significant experience in public health. If a member of the LREI community needs support in navigating the healthcare system and would benefit from this sort of advisory conversation, John is offering his services free of charge. You can contact John directly at
Tomorrow you will receive an email from Jim Harris, the chair of LREI’s Board of Trustees and on Friday and Monday you will receive updates and invitations from the divisional principals. In the coming days and weeks we will settle into a communications routine, more at first, a little less but steady thereafter. If you have questions that we have not answered, do not hesitate to be in touch with me, or any member of the school’s administrative team.
Wishing your family the very best in these uncertain times.
Peace and health,
Coronavirus Update #7 - March 16, 2020
Coronavirus Update #7
March 16, 2020
Dear LREI Community,
Greetings from LREI. Classes ended just four days ago yet so much has changed since then. As you know,  yesterday Mayor DeBlasio closed the NYC public schools. As we have communicated, when the public schools are closed LREI will move to remote learning. We will be moving LREI’s programs online after our Spring Break.
The first day of LREI@home will be Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The earliest possible return date to onsite LREI is April 20, 2020, as this is the earliest day the public schools might return to class. We will be in touch during April with updates on our plans for the end of April and for May/June. You can visit LREI@home to get a preview of our plans. You might review this site with your children and ask them what they remember from their conversations with teachers and principals. We spent the last few weeks before the break preparing for LREI@home and have so many ideas for how we can keep in touch, keep the community whole and, most importantly, continue LREI’s rich learning experiences. We will be in touch as we approach March 31 with updates and opportunities, and we will continue to add resources to the LREI@home page at
We know that the coming weeks and months offer challenges. Some we can imagine and others we have yet to imagine. If LREI can be of support to you, please be in touch. Be in touch with me, with the principals, with the school psychologists, or with anyone you trust. You should know that while we are creating LREI@home and navigating the Spring’s challenges, we are also already planning for the 2020-2021 school year – LREI’s centennial. There are many events on tap to celebrate the history and future of our amazing institution.
A few reminders:
  • Wash your hands, stay home when sick, check in with a healthcare provider as needed. These will be essential to keeping your family, and the rest of us, as healthy as is possible.
  • A reminder  from our nurses that, alas, social distancing means to limit or eliminate playdates.
  • Suspected exposure – If you suspect that a member of your family has been exposed to the coronavirus, please alert the school nurses by emailing You can always email your child’s principal or me. I can be reached at or on my cell phone at 917-593-1787.
  • All LREI offices and buildings are closed. If you need access to someone or something, please email us after Spring Break, March 30 or later. If you need to reach someone between now and March 30, please email me at or call me at (917) 593-1787.
  • At LREI@home – Additional Resources you can find information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 and resources for ongoing learning/activity at home. Do you have family learning or student resources/activities that you want to share with other LREI families? Email them to
Moving into an uncertain period, while we MUST practice social distancing, I ask you to read this essay encouraging us to also practice social solidarity, written by LREI dad Eric Klinenberg. I hope that we can all take solace in the strength of our community, in the inherent goodness and strength of the people and institutions of the City of New York, and in the optimism and resilience our children model everyday. Few things are more inspiring.
Peace and health,
Coronavirus Update #6 - March 12, 2020
Coronavirus Update #6 
March 12, 2020
Dear LREI Community, 
On the eve of our Spring Break I write with a few updates / reminders and some thoughts.
Exposures, tests, closings both temporary and indefinite – the landscape of challenges and responses to the coronavirus and COVID-19 continues to evolve. Over the course of the past few days many of your children have asked me whether we would return to school after Spring Break. My answer has been and remains, “I hope so but it is hard to know for sure what the state of the pandemic will be in two weeks and we have to be ready to respond, to be nimble, and to be resilient.”  
We can look to colleges and universities for answers, though they have the added responsibility of housing and feeding their students. We must also contemplate our larger responsibility to join others in containing the virus, all of us staying home to slow the rate of exposure. Impossible for some and generally hard for all, though it is clearer and clearer that to the extent possible this is our individual and collective responsibility. We weighed our need to finish the term with the need to slow exposure and felt that we should end today and head into break a day early and that we must all do what we can over the next two weeks to minimize contact. I encourage you to do the same in your lives.   
Where will we be in two weeks? I don’t know. You should know that we are in touch with the administrators of other schools and universities, with the NYC Department of Health, and with a variety of other members of our extended community who bring knowledge and wisdom to this discussion. The administrative team has scheduled a number of meetings over the break and I will be in touch with members of LREI’s Board of Trustees. We will do our best to make a timely decision about reopening. We are currently planning for both a scheduled return on March 30 and for learning via LREI@home for a period of time after Spring Break, as needed.  
  • Not just when school is in session – Wash your hands, stay home when sick, check in with a healthcare provider as needed.  
  • For families that have planned travel for Spring Break – We will be in touch near the end of the break with reminders of public health suggestions as to which areas, when visited, will require self-quarantine. Do not hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions. Clearly the impact of travel is a changing landscape.
  • The above note on travel is important. New York City and surrounding communities have a growing number of cases. We will have to make decisions about school being open/closed based on both exposure outside of New York and the requirements of living healthfully in New York.
  • Suspected exposure – If you suspect that a member of your family may have been exposed to the coronavirus, please alert one of the school nurses by calling the school’s main number, 212-477-5316 or by emailing them. For the lower school and middle school, Ava Dawson – For the high school, Linda Perlmutter – or Joanne MacDonald – You can always email your child’s principal or me. I can be reached at or on my cell phone at 917-593-1787. 
  • Tomorrow, Friday, March 13, the divisional principals will send more specific information about LREI@home. These plans will be put into practice AFTER Spring Break IF we are closed. We are sharing them this week to allow families to have some idea of our expectations for their child’s participation in our daily LREI@home program. These missives will be posted to our page.
  • As part of LREI@home we are working on ways to continue to support each other as a community – parent meetings, affinity groups, access to the psychologists, etc.  We will be in touch with a plan if we close for some period of time.
  • LREI@home will include Afterschool for those students who are enrolled in core Afterschool, enrichment classes, and/or instrumental lessons. The Afterschool office will be in touch with details.
  • If your family will have challenges accessing LREI@home’s online program at home for technical reasons, please speak with your child’s teacher, advisor, or any trusted LREI adult.  We will work with you to find a solution.
  • When we return we will be in touch about which LREI events will go on as planned and which may be postponed or changed in some way.  For now, we have decided to postpone April’s Art Auction. Details to follow.
Writing this pre-Spring Break note is, for two reasons, a more “bittersweet” task than other years. In a more typical year the last day of school before Spring Break would be celebrated as Founders Day – a day dedicated to the memory of Elisabeth Irwin, the amazing founder of our school. We would spend time in buddy groups, gather for an assembly, watch the (in)famous Founders Day Play and eat ice cream to commemorate the meeting, held in an ice cream parlor, that led to the founding of the school. Elisabeth Irwin is a daily inspiration. She knew that a progressive education prepared students to learn and live in a manner that readied them, at each step, for the next phase of their education and for life; for a fulfilling life and a life that, in the words of our mission statement, brings meaningful change to the world. Miss Irwin, as she was called, was a brilliant writer and while I can read her words, I wish that I would have had the chance to meet her and to hear her ideas, her beliefs, her passions directly.  
Not to get too sappy, but the second reason that this is a bittersweet Founders Day Eve is that I don’t know when we will see each other again. I know that we will be okay, that we will be safe and that we will be supportive and caring of one another. I have no doubt about the strength of our community. Yet the uncertainty of when our reunion will occur is unsettling. 
I leave you with a particularly stirring thought from Miss Irwin, Above all things, the progressive schools believe that childhood is a part of life and not just a preface to something more important, and that at every age children should have a chance to respond to the romance and adventure of the world around them.”  
I hope that this break brings many chances to “respond to the romance and adventure of the world wherever you happen to be and whenever we are reunited. 
With great gratitude, 


P.S. Please give your kids some Founders Day ice cream today. They’ve earned it.
Coronavirus Update #5 - March 10, 2020
Coronavirus Update #5
March 10, 2020

Dear LREI Community, 
I write to tell you of a change in LREI’s schedule for this week. LREI will be open for full days of school through Thursday, March 12. We will be closed for students on Friday, March 13. We will offer free childcare for all students in the 4s through sixth grade on Friday. (In order to sign up for childcare complete the form that Kenna Mateos will send home on Wednesday.)
It is important for me to be clear that we have not been informed of any member of the LREI community who has been exposed to the coronavirus. There are no increased risk factors, that we know of, for the next two days.  
For the past few weeks, the faculty and staff throughout the school have been providing the daily program that your children enjoy all year long and have been keeping the LREI operation humming along. At the same time, we have all been preparing for the possibility that we will need to translate our progressive program and vibrant community into its digital doppelganger – LREI@home – for some time after Spring Break. The school’s administrative leadership team decided this afternoon that we need more time to ready our plans and will spend all day Friday dotting our digital “i’s” and crossing our digital “t’s,” much in the same way that we plan each day of our mission-driven program.
We realize that this will create challenges for families and we apologize for this. While we do not like to give up even one day of school the time the faculty and staff will have together on Friday will make LREI@home more fruitful and meaningful, if indeed we are closed. We especially don’t like missing Founders Day. Given the circumstances, I think that Elisabeth Irwin would understand. We will reschedule parts of our Founders Day tradition for after the break.  
To recap:
  • LREI will be open for all children on Wednesday, March 11 and Thursday, March 12.  All programs and events will run, as well, including the High School Winter Theatre Showcase on Thursday evening.
  • We will be closed for children on Friday, March 13.  
  • We are closing to support the added workload the teachers and staff have in preparing for the potential for remote learning in April. There has been no known coronavirus exposure at LREI.
  • We will offer free childcare on Friday, March 13 for students in the 4s – sixth grade. Kenna Mateos will send a sign-up form on Wednesday morning. It is important that you sign up if you want to take advantage of this childcare opportunity.
  • Our current plan is to reopen on schedule on Monday, March 30.  We will be in touch over the break to confirm this.
As always, we appreciate your understanding and encourage you to be in touch with questions or concerns. 
Coronavirus Update #4 - March 9, 2020

Dear LREI Community,


Welcome back for the last week of school before Spring Break. Our plan is to have school all week unless it becomes safer not to do so. Two thoughts on this:
  • As I said in my Friday, March 6 message (which can be found at, while we will definitely close if the public schools close, we may decide to close if the public schools remain in session.
  • It is possible that we will close, for a day or longer, with little or no notice. In addition to whatever other preparations you may be taking, it would be prudent to begin to plan for childcare, as needed.


Reminders from earlier Updates:
  • Wash your hands, stay home if sick, seek medical help as needed.  Can’t say it enough.
  • LREI Lunch Service – in order to limit exposure during lunch service, we will be offering fewer options at the salad bar and on the hot food line. All serving will be done by adults. We will continue to have vegetarian options, etc. For the time being, lower school and middle school students will use the hot food line to get their lunches rather than eating family-style.
  • For families that have planned travel for Spring Break – We will be in touch near the end of the break with reminders of public health suggestions as to which areas, when visited, will require self-quarantine. Do not hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions.
  • We know that many members of our community are required to travel for their professions. Please keep the school informed if your travel has resulted in exposure to the virus or if your health care provider has additional guidance for you and your family as a result of any business travel.


New Items
  • Suspected exposure – If you suspect that a member of your family may have been exposed to the coronavirus, please alert one of the school nurses by calling the school’s main number, 212-477-5316 or by emailing them.  For the lower school and middle school, Ava Dawson – For the high school, Linda Perlmutter – or Joanne MacDonald –

  • You have or will receive some general information regarding our plans for

    LREI@home. By Wednesday, we will post more specific plans for all three divisions on These plans will be put into practice after Spring Break IF we are closed. We are posting them this week to allow families to have some idea of our expectations for their child’s participation in our daily LREI@home program.

  • For older students, we are asking students to bring their school assigned devices and many of their other school materials home with them each evening and back to school each day. Thanks, families, for helping to keep students organized.
  • LREI@home will include Afterschool for those students who are enrolled in core Afterschool, enrichment classes, and/or instrumental lessons. The Afterschool office will be in touch with details.
  • If your family will have challenges accessing this online program at home for technical reasons, please speak with your child’s teacher, advisor, or any trusted LREI adult. We will work with you to find a solution.


A childhood friend who is the excellent head of an excellent school emailed a list of illnesses that have impacted the lives of many more people than COVID-19 has, thus far, and likely more than it will in the long run. Another friend posted on social media the question of what would happen if we were able to create the same energy we have around the coronavirus in service to preparing for and responding to the issues brought on by climate change the way we have in only the past few weeks regarding the novel coronavirus. I was at a meeting of NYC school heads last week and one member of the group asked why we were able to motivate so many to prepare for school closing, to respond to this illness, but we have a harder time motivating all in our communities to respond to the “sickness” of racism? I am still thinking about this one.


I like these questions. I like the idea that one thing that could possibly come out of our current situation is that we recognize the power of science and truth, the power of clear communication, and the power of collective action.  Let’s all remember this when we are through this current period.


I will be in touch again soon.
Coronavirus Update #3 - March 6, 2020
Dear LREI Community,
I write at the end of a week that began with my saying that I would be in touch once per week. That said, it seemed prudent to communicate with you as we head into the weekend. Some of the information below is included as a reminder and is similar to our last communication. Some of the information is the result of the work done by the administrative team, the faculty, and the staff. Some speaks to the hard work of our health team and the maintenance crew. Amazing people all!
Healthy Habits
  • We continue to remind students and adults to wash their hands, sneeze into tissues or elbows, not to touch faces, and to be generally aware of themselves and others. PLEASE join us in these efforts.
  • Stay home from school/work if you are ill.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if a member of your family is ill.
  • We will be modifying some of our lunch service to make sure we are minimizing the ways in which kids pass along germs.
  • One of the best tools we have to fight this illness is our deepening understanding of how it is transmitted and how one keeps oneself healthy (see above) and a basic understanding of the tools that can be brought to this endeavor. The teachers have and will continue to explain this to students and to answer their questions in age-appropriate ways. Check out this list of “myth-busters.”
  • We know that many families have planned travel for Spring Break. We will be in touch near the end of the break with reminders of public health suggestions as to which areas when visited, will require self-quarantine. Do not hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions.
  • We know that many members of our community are required to travel for their professions. Please keep the school informed if your travel has resulted in exposure to the virus or if your health care provider has additional guidance for you and your family as a result of any business travel.
School Closure / LREI@home
  • If the public schools close, LREI will close. If the public schools stay open, LREI may choose to close based on the needs of our community.
  • The teachers in all three divisions are hard at work creating LREI@home. If LREI is closed we will be in touch with contact schedules for students in all three divisions. You will hear from the divisional principals in the next few school days.
  • If your family will have challenges accessing this online program at home for technical reasons, please speak with your child’s teacher, advisor, or any trusted LREI adult. We will work with you to find a solution.
I could not be more impressed with, and grateful for, the work of the teachers and administrators as we plan for this possibility. They are amazing, but you already knew that.
  • We will continue to send home at least one email per week. If the coronavirus news cycle continues at its current pace you will likely hear from us more frequently.
  • If LREI will close and before we begin LREI@home, we will communicate with you via email and a phone call to make sure we contact everyone.
A few thoughts on COVID-19 as it relates to LREI’s mission and your children’s education:
  • As we think about the possibility of closures and quarantine it is important to recognize the privilege that the ability to prepare represents. How well can one prepare when living paycheck to paycheck, if you don’t have a home, or if you rely on some form of assistance to feed your family? Preparing for quarantine is a challenge if missing work means missed pay or if you live in a multigenerational home or if your access to health care is tenuous at best. Who will have to go to work in order for many of us to be able to stay safely at home? As this virus challenges our institutions, the marginalized are only marginalized more, and those of us who can, should consider what we can offer our communities.
  • It is important, as we each can, to step back and be a bit clinical as we think about the coronavirus. If we can, we will see that there are some good lessons in this moment. There are statistics lessons, basic math lessons, geography, biology, virology lessons, and on and on. One way to make this situation less scary is to understand it. The situation will not be less serious, but at least we can know what the threats are. We can tell fact from fiction, serious from inflammatory, valid warnings from propaganda. Knowledge is power. Learning is the key. The adults must teach the children and each other.
  • We know so much more about viruses, sickness, and the human body than we did, let’s say, during the 1918 flu epidemic. We understand this particular virus to some degree and are hustling to learn more. We can draw on our knowledge of other illnesses and a deep store of knowledge that a hundred years of science has provided. That said, until medical therapies and/or a vaccine is developed we have to take care of ourselves and we may have to limit our activities in order to help our communities. We may have to sacrifice to support others. The most effective prevention strategies continue to be some level of community-mindedness, some level of understanding of our obligations to each other, even to people we don’t know. There is something inspiring in this. As far as the world has come the oldest strategy will make all of the difference – we must depend on each other, one and all. Thanks for having my back!
Coronavirus Update #2 - March 2, 2020
Dear LREI Community,

Following my email last week, I write today to share our current plans regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and in response to the suggestion from federal and local authorities that schools prepare for increasing local impact and for the unlikely event of prolonged school closure.
In formulating our plans we are following the guidance of local and national health agencies. We sought input from other schools and we are taking advantage of the generous advice of members of the LREI com
munity who work at universities and corporations and those who have access to information to which we would not be privy otherwise. We are grateful to all who have supported our planning.  Please read this email carefully.
  • Student Travel – Out of an abundance of caution, and recognizing how quickly the coronavirus landscape is changing, we have decided to cancel our eighth grade trips to Spain and France. With an increasingly unpredictable path, we cannot be assured that the students’ experiences will be what we have been promised nor that their travel will be safe and uninterrupted.
  • While School is in Session – For the next two weeks and then continuing after break, we will:
    • Reinforce healthy habits;
    • Disinfect the buildings on a more frequent schedule;
    • Continue to look for ways to minimize transmission of communicable diseases;
    • Educate the students about the virus and will reassure them that they are safe.
  • Family Travel – If a member of your LREI student’s household(s) has traveled to a country or state that has had significant incidence of infection and/or is listed at Level 2 or higher by the CDC or you have hosted a guest from one of these states or countries, we ask that you immediately contact your health care provider and, on their advice, consider that you may have to keep your child home for 14 days from the day of last contact. If you have planned travel over Spring Break to one of the areas noted above we ask that you self-quarantine for 14 days after your return.
  • School Closure – While we hope that we do not have to use them, we are hard at work creating plans for LREI@Home, through which we will provide educational programming for students in the event of a school closure.  If your family will have challenges accessing this online program at home for technical reasons, please speak with your child’s teacher, advisor, principal, or any trusted LREI adult.  We will work with you to find a solution.
  • We take this opportunity to remind all of a few simple means for minimizing the transmission of any illness:
    • Children and adults should stay home when sick. Children must be fever and symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school;
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently, especially when someone is sick;
    • It is not too late to get this season’s flu shot.
  • Communication:
    • You can expect to hear from us at least once per week with updates concerning
    • LREI’s planning/response to this situation. You might hear from us more frequently if there is urgent news;
    • Please make sure that your family’s contact information in LREI Connect is up to date;
    • A reminder that urgent/time-sensitive communications will be sent to you via email and our auto-call phone system.  “Home” phone numbers will get notification calls. All numbers will receive emergency calls
While the coronavirus – its quickening pace and all that we don’t yet know – can be scary, we are fortunate to have modern medicine and science, many smart and learned people, and reason on our side.  We will base our decisions on the the best information we have at the time and on the advice and input of experts. We will balance our concern and fear with facts, forethought, and compassion. We will be guided, in part, by what we will teach our children through our decisions and actions.  We will communicate with you in a timely and transparent fashion. We are available to you, as individuals and as a community.
All best,


Coronavirus Update #1 - February 26, 2020

Dear LREI Community,

You may have read this article in yesterday’s NY Times, or similar articles / reports elsewhere, regarding comments about the coronavirus made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rather than waiting for each of you to follow the suggestion in the article that you contact the school, it seemed better for me to contact you all.


Three thoughts on the impact of the coronavirus on life at LREI:


1) A group of administrators and faculty are meeting today to consider the question of the eighth grade’s Spring Break trips to France and Spain. We will make a decision about these trips ASAP.  There is no planned trip to China this year. 


2) The school’s administration and others will meet soon to discuss plans for keeping students healthy at school if the coronavirus appears in NYC, or nearby.  


3) We will also begin to plan for how we serve students in what we hope is the unlikely event of schools being forced to close due to the coronavirus. 


Thank you for your attention and I will be back in touch as we have more definite plans.




LREI@Home Overview

Divisional Updates

Additional Resources