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Back to School 2021 Guide: What Harlem Children’s Zone Families Need to Know

Yellow backpack and pencils on blue background

The pandemic changed a lot about how we learn, work, and play. But this fall, we’re thrilled to welcome Harlem Children’s Zone and Promise Academy scholars and families back for on-site classes and programs!

We know our scholars and families want to be prepared for back to school. From tips for in-person learning to new safety measures to important dates and locations, here’s everything you need to know to make the most of the school year!

Step 1: Know your back to school and program dates

Promise Academy scholars:

  • Classes begin virtually – Monday, September 13
  • After-school programs begin virtually – Monday, September 20
  • Classes and after school programs begin on site – Monday, October 4

Zone Programs participants:

  • All programs begin on site – Monday, October 4
Girl with laptop

Step 2: Access free wireless Internet  

Harlem Children’s Zone can help you get free WiFi to learn and work remotely! Follow these steps to join our community Internet program:

  1. Find out if you qualify – Visit Broadband Benefit online; or contact Harlem Children’s Zone Community Pride office at 212-932-1920 or
  2. Apply for the benefit – Visit Lifeline National Verifier.
  3. Select a WiFI carrier – Once approved for the program, select an Internet carrier. We recommend using People’s Choice Communications, which is affiliated with Harlem Children’s Zone. (Note: WiFi carrier eligibility is subject to location and building owner approval.)


Step 3: Set up yourself up for remote classes

For the first few weeks of the 2021-2022 school year, Promise Academy scholars will attend class virtually. Check out these tips for remote learning:

  • Internet – Make sure you have Internet access, or sign up for our free community WiFi using the steps above. A strong WiFi signal is important for remote learning.
  • Learning Devices – Make sure all of your mobile devices (laptops and tablets) are in working order and connected to the Internet before you start class. If you have any issues, email the support address associated with your school:

Step 4: Get Vaccinated

All employees of Harlem Children’s Zone and Promise Academy will be fully vaccinated by September 27. Per CDC recommendations, scholars 12 and older are encouraged to do so, too.

Vaccines are widely available and free of charge through:

  • New York-Presbyterian Hospital – Vaccinations are being offered at all hospital locations. Call 646-707-1475 to schedule an appointment.
  • Mount Sinai – Vaccinations are being offered at all hospital locations. Call 646-605-5764 or visit the Mount Sinai website to make an appointment.
  • Vaccine Finder – Visit the Vaccine Finder website  for a city-wide registry of vaccination sites.

If you have any questions about the vaccine, email Or, watch a recording of Just the Facts: COVID Vaccine Virtual Town Hall, a community-wide event we hosted to provide fact- and science-based responses to questions about the vaccine.

Step 5: Know your school or program location

Check out the Harlem Children’s Zone map or visit our Locations website page to find out where to find your school or program:

Step 6: Review our safety measures for on-site engagement

You know the drill. But just as a reminder, make sure that you:

  • Get a COVID-19 test – You can schedule a testing appointment through Mobile Health Online.  
  • Answer the Touchless Registration health questionnaire – Fill out the form sent to your email or phone, sent daily at 6 am, before coming on site (a parent must complete the survey for children in grades pre-K through 8th and high school-age scholars can complete the survey on their own).
  • Access and scan your QR code – Once you complete the survey, you will receive a QR code and screenshot it. Scan your QR code at the kiosks located in the entrances of our buildings and get your temperature checked.
  • Keep your mask on – Mask up in all spaces unless you are eating or drinking.
  • Keep you hands clean – Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Social distance Maintain at least six feet of distance from others whenever possible.
  • Stay home if your sick – If you have any symptoms associated with COVID-19, including fever, couch, and shortness of breath, stay home. Contact your doctor if the symptoms persist.

All teachers and staff at Harlem Children’s Zone and Promise Academy are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Additionally, we have upgraded many of our spaces to ensure proper ventilation and airflow. Your safety remains our top priority.

Step 7: Get ready for your first day back to in-person school and programs

We’ve been virtual for a while now. It’s only natural that you might have a few back to school jitters. The more you prepare mentally, the better you’ll feel about your first day back. Scholars should:

  • Set your sleep schedules back to “school time” two weeks before the first day of school
  • Talk about your feelings returning to school, especially if anything is bothering you
  • Put together a rough outline of your school and activity schedule, and make sure to sync up that schedule with the family’s calendar
  • Get in touch with your friends and classmates ahead of time and make plans to meet up in school
  • Take a few deep breaths, relax, and have fun!