We hope you’ve been savoring the last few weeks of summer. As promised, we’re back this week with some updates and some ways to prepare for the upcoming school year ahead. We’ll be back with our weekly Unmuted newsletters starting in September, until then enjoy the rest of your summer! 

School safety

According to the New York Post, the New York City Department of Education is ramping up safety protocols for this upcoming school year. Security director Mark Rampersant told parents about an internal application that will allow principals to notify parents of emergency situations in a more timely manner after many parents complained about the timeframe they are notified of incidents at their children’s school. The application will also allow Chancellor David Banks to reach families as well as make emergency weather announcements. 

The DOE is also looking at a prototype that will enable schools to lock their front doors but allow emergency responders to enter. This is following concerns after the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last school year. 

Additionally, the DOE will be investing $9 million in federal stimulus funds on volunteer violence interrupters from local nonprofits. And 200 new safety agents will be graduating later this month in time for September. However, a source told the Post that the number is likely closer to 175, which is around the same amount of folks who retired from last year. So there’s that. 

Covid-19 guidelines

As far as Covid-19, the DOE recently announced guidelines for the upcoming school year:

  • Staff, school visitors and students who participate in high-risk extracurricular activities like basketball, volleyball and wrestling will still need to be vaccinated.
  • Masks will only be required for students and staff returning to school after a Covid-19 diagnosis for ‘days six through 10 after the onset of symptoms or the date of a positive test.’ 
  • Masks will also be required in nurse’s offices and for people showing symptoms of Covid-19 in school.
  • Schools will only close when there is widespread transmission that is determined by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
  • There will be no in-school testing. Four tests will be sent home monthly with students and staff. 

Are you ready?

Last week I got an email sharing school fundraising ideas from an organization for the fall. When I finally got around to responding, I let my contact know I was nowhere near ready to think about PTA duties yet and I’d get back to him. Does anyone else still feel pretty burnt out from this past school year and savoring the last moments of summer? If you’re anything like me, then you might need a bit of a reminder that there are 21 days until the first day of school — so it’s time to start preparing.

Cute African girl in bed

First, let’s start with sleep. We know it’s important to give your children time to get back into a routine after those late night gaming sessions over the summer. How much sleep does your child need? The National Sleep Foundation suggests that children between 3 and 5 get 10-13 hours of sleep. Kids between 6 and 13 need nine-11 hours, and teens 14-17 need eight-10. 

With that being said, they suggest having children go to bed and wake up earlier in 15-minute increments every few days. So go ahead, do the math—we won’t judge


If you haven’t already stocked up on school supplies gradually over summer, then you might as well take advantage of September sales, especially as inflation is making school shopping one of the most expensive years yet. Oftentimes schools share general lists before the school year, but teachers send a more specific list on the first day. If you’re willing to wait, you’ll often find deep sales after school starts as retailers switch out that back-to-school section to Halloween. 

New Jersey’s sales tax holiday runs from Aug. 28 through Sept. 5 this year so it might be worth the trek depending on how much you’re planning to spend. The exemption applies to computers, school supplies, and sport or recreational equipment. Keep in mind, clothing and sneakers under $110 are exempt from New York City and NY State sales tax.

Mental health

While this upcoming school year might seem as though we are returning to the most “normal” yet, the effects of the pandemic on top of normal childhood factors still linger. Back in 2020, the CDC reported an increase of 31% in mental-health related hospital visits by adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 compared to the year prior. 

In 2021, a survey conducted by the CDC found that 55% of high school students reported they experienced ‘emotional abuse by a parent or other adult in the home, including swearing at, insulting, or putting down the student’ and 11% experienced ‘physical abuse by a parent or other adult in the home, including hitting, beating, kicking, or physically hurting the student.’ 

What can we do to support our students and ourselves as we enter a new school year? According to NY Project Hope, a program of the NYS Office of Mental Health, below are some ways parents can help. 

For children:

  • Reassurance can be found in time spent comforting, engaging in play and simply being present
  • Establish a routine that is predictable and contains structure, rules but allows space to express emotions
  • Build a tolerance toward regressive emotions and behavior—-this is normal
  • Follow the SAFETY model

For teenagers:

  • Model flexibility and communication
  • Provide love, support, and listening no matter how difficult it gets
  • Normalize their emotions and response to an abnormal event
  • Balance being available with respecting their privacy
  • Encourage finding friends or other trusted adults to share thoughts/feelings

NY Project Hope has an Emotional Support Helpline for folks who might need it. Call 1-844-863-9314, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

And there you have it. We will see you again weekly starting Sept. 1. In the meantime, reach out via email at hello@the-unmuted to share any thoughts or feedback.

Nicole Perrino is the founder of Bronxmama.com, a hyperlocal website for Bronx families where she use her influence to celebrate the beauty that the Bronx has to offer. In addition to her role at Bronxmama,...

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