June 16 district updates

Picture of Albany High Home School Coordinator Harry Cain and Giffen elementary Hall Monitor Alex Huntley

Cain, Huntley.

Perspectives in Online Learning

Tuesday's installment of Perspectives in Online Learning features two perspectives -- a vignette from Albany High School Hall Monitor Harry Cain, and a video from Giffen Memorial Elementary School Hall Monitor Alex Huntley.

Perspectives in Online Learning is a forum we have created to allow teachers and students to share their experiences with virtual teaching and learning. We will highlight a new vignette or video each day while schools are closed due to COVID-19. 

We hope you enjoy hearing the perspectives of our teachers and our students!

Watch the vote!

The district will live-stream the opening and counting of ballots in this year’s budget vote and Board of Education election beginning Tuesday at 5 p.m. If all votes are not counted by 10 p.m. on Tuesday, the district will suspend the count and resume at 8 a.m. Wednesday. You can access the Google Meet login information from the live-stream at the link above, or at albanyschools.org/watchthevote.

The live-stream opportunity is another step to ensure transparency and accountability in the process.

Student, family surveys on re-opening

As the City School District of Albany plans for re-opening in September, in addition to the work of our district-wide committees we also want to get input from students and families about the experiences everyone is having with virtual learning.  

Please follow these links to share your input, which will help inform our decision-making as we look ahead to the 2020-21 school year: 

  • Student survey (also available for students in grades 3-12 via Google Classroom beginning Tuesday)
  • Parent/guardian survey (please note that the technical problem that was causing difficulty for some in entering information about multiple students in the same survey has been corrected; we apologize for the inconvenience)

Registration open for city's Summer Youth Employment Program

The City of Albany has announced that the Summer Youth Employment Program has reopened registration for this summer. 

The 2020 LIGHT Program – Learning, Initiative and Gaining Headway Together – will run from July 20-Aug. 14. Registration will be open through Wednesday, June 24 at 4 p.m. Click here to apply.

Youth employees will work up to 20 hours per week, and must meet all eligibility and orientation requirements to participant. At the recommendation of health officials, in-person worksites will be limited, and most youth will have a virtual work experience. 

Applications will follow a first-come, first-served process, and registration does not guarantee a paid work experience. You can call or email with questions at (518) 438-1082 or syep@albanyny.gov

Social distancing reminders for year-end activities

As we all celebrate our students with reverse parades and other fun activities at the end of this very different school year, please keep in mind the importance of social distancing protocols, including wearing appropriate PPE at all events. 

Wave to your teachers and school staff, and cheer your students and their peers from a safe distance, but please refrain from hugging or any other type of physical contact. We want to continue to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help our city, our region and our state work toward fully reopening in a way that is safe for all. You can find helpful information about social distancing practices on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. 

Celebrating the Class of 2020

Check out our congratulatory messages for the Albany High School Class of 2020 as you drive around town. CDTA posted shelter ads in 23 locations throughout the city last week – just one of the ways we are letting our seniors know we are proud of them as they near the end of their high school careers. 

Seniors also will receive lawn or window signs when they pick up their caps and gowns at school next Tuesday and Wednesday, thanks to the support of the Albany Fund for Education and Albany Booster Club. We also are continuing to recognize our seniors daily via our social media channels leading up to graduation weekend June 27-28, so please check out those messages out as well.

End-of-year Chromebook returns

A reminder that students who anticipate leaving the district before the 2020-21 school year begins, and graduating seniors who do not have younger siblings enrolled in district schools, can return their district Chromebooks through Thursday.

Chromebook returns can be made any day through Thursday at any the district’s seven “grab and go” meal distribution locations from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.:

  • Albany High School (Washington Avenue entrance), 700 Washington Ave.
  • Albany School of Humanities (ASH), 108 Whitehall Road
  • Arbor Hill Elementary School, 1 Arbor Drive
  • Giffen Memorial Elementary School, 274 South Pearl St.
  • Schuyler Achievement Academy, 676 Clinton Ave.
  • Tony Clement Center for Education, 395 Elk St.
  • William S. Hackett Middle School, 45 Delaware Ave.

Chromebooks will be accepted at any of those locations. 

Seniors who do not have younger siblings that will need the Chromebook for virtual summer school work also can return the device at their graduation ceremony. The district is working on plans for in-person graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020 on June 27-28 that will meet the state’s new guidelines of fewer than 150 total people per event with appropriate social distancing protocols. 

The district-issued Chromebooks cannot be used outside of the district’s network. An active student account is required for access, and students leaving the district will have their accounts disabled. The devices cannot be used in any other way and have no utility for a non-student.

Albany High graduation, secondary promotion ceremony information

Albany High School is making plans for in-person outdoor graduation ceremonies on the weekend of June 27-28 following Governor Cuomo's recent notice that outdoor graduations can be held beginning June 26 with up to 150 total people and with social distancing guidelines in place that follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We are developing plans for in-person ceremonies that are in alignment with the guidance provided. We will share more information as soon as our plans are confirmed. We also have a Class of 2020 Information page that includes a variety of updates and reminders for our seniors. 

We are proud of our soon-to-be graduates!

Here is the schedule for remaining promotion ceremonies and other recognition activities at the secondary level.  

Middle schools – Virtual promotion ceremonies

  • Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence – Thursday, June 18 at 11 a.m.
  • North Albany Middle School – Thursday, June 18 at 12:15 p.m., online student recognition event
  • Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School – Wednesday, June 17 at 9 a.m.

Tony Clement Center for Education

  • Students will participate in the middle school programs

Please note that students must pass all classes to be eligible to participate in these activities. 

Meal delivery reminders for the final weeks of school

A reminder that this is our final week of meal delivery for the school year. Meals were delivered for two days Monday, and deliveries Wednesday and Thursday also will be for two days. 

The district has served about 340,000 meals to date during the school closure. As a reminder, our “grab and go” locations through Thursday will be open each day from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The sites will reopen Monday, June 22 as we launch our summer meals pickup program. Those sites are: 

  • Albany High School (Washington Avenue entrance), 700 Washington Ave.
  • Albany School of Humanities (ASH), 108 Whitehall Road
  • Arbor Hill Elementary School, 1 Arbor Drive
  • Giffen Memorial Elementary School, 274 South Pearl St.
  • Schuyler Achievement Academy, 676 Clinton Ave.
  • Tony Clement Center for Education, 395 Elk St.
  • William S. Hackett Middle School, 45 Delaware Ave.

It has not been determined yet if we will be able to deliver meals during the summer. Please watch for more information.

Information line for support services

The City School District of Albany has established an information phone line for families of students who may need additional assistance with linkages to services available from the district, city, county and state.

The new CSDA Information line phone number is (518) 475-6130. It is available from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily through Thursday. 

The Office of Pupil Personnel Services will receive phone calls and provide a warm hand-off to building-level student support service personnel to provide support to families during this difficult time, including connections to services available throughout our community. Calls will be returned as soon as possible, but by the close of business each day. Please note that if you are calling with an emergency or an issue of immediate safety, do not call the information line but instead call 911.

The district also has developed a Community Resource Guide to help connect families with a wide range of supports.

Returning musical instruments

As part of the end-of-the-school-year process, students who currently participate in the district’s band and orchestra programs should plan to return their instruments before the last day of the school year on Thursday, June 18. District staff will inventory the instruments, assess for repairs and sanitize them for next school year. 

Families wishing to keep a school-loaned instrument for summer practice may do so under the following guidelines: You are not leaving the district before the start of next school year, your student will be enrolled in the same school for 2020-21, and you communicate that request to the Fine Arts Office at (518) 475-6554 prior to June 18. 

Also, please know that due to the closure of our school buildings because of the COVID-19 crisis there will not be any summer arts enrichment program or summer lesson offerings this year. We hope to return to our normal arts programming as soon as it's safe to do so. 

New summer adventure website coming July 3

Summer vacation may look a bit different this year, but Capital Region BOCES and area school districts, including the City School District of Albany, are partnering to develop a new website that will provide eight weeks of activities to keep your elementary-age children engaged during the summer.

Starting July 3, visit https://summeradventure.capitalregionboces.org for a week-by-week collection of fun, enriching activities. Curated by educators, these theme-based activities will range from arts and crafts and backyard science to mindful moments and staying active — perfect for a summer spent at home! 


Funding for childcare costs

New York is using a portion of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funds to provide free childcare to income-eligible essential workers. 

To qualify for a scholarship to cover the cost of care, essential workers must work outside of the home and use a licensed and regulated childcare provider. This would include the YMCA partnership described below. Families also must have an adjusted gross income at or below 300% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four that equals an annual income of $78,600. 
Parents and guardians are asked to complete this application for the CARES Child Care Scholarship. Applications will be considered complete once the online application is finished AND the required supplemental documentation is submitted to Bright side Up, the Childcare Resource and Referral Agency (MCCRAY) for Albany, Fulton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties. 

For parents and guardians that currently receive a subsidy from their local Department of Social Services to pay for childcare, this scholarship can cover the co-pay. Parents and guardians should apply for the CARES Act Scholarship, and then contact their local DS to get a letter stating their current co-pay. Please address any questions to Tricia Holland at Rowland@brightsideup.org.

Technical support for students and families

The City School District of Albany’s Technology Help Desk is available to assist students and families with issues related to connecting a Chromebooks to wireless access points, or with student login to the Chromebooks or the Clever suite of applications.

You can reach the Technology Help Desk from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. each weekday at (518) 475-6195. 

Please note that the Help Desk cannot assist with matters related to use, content or activities within any of the district instructional applications or Google Classroom. Questions regarding the use of Google Classroom, instructional resources, learning tasks or expectations related to instructional content should be directed to each student’s teacher or principal. 

You also can find instructions and other helpful Google Classroom guidance in our online instruction section.

Be counted for Albany in the 2020 Census – from home!

This is an important reminder that in spite of the closures and significant precautions in place due to COVID-19, the 2020 U.S. Census is underway. The Census Bureau is carefully monitoring the situation and follows the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities.

The most important thing you can do is respond online, by phone, or by mail when you receive your invitation. Responding now will minimize the need for Census Bureau workers to be out in communities following up. Help your community – and help the Census Bureau adhere to social-distancing guidelines – by responding online to the 2020 Census. Do your part. Stay home. Get counted.

YMCA childcare partnership

The district is partnering with the YMCA to offer childcare services for health and emergency-response personnel. The YMCA is administering and staffing the program, which operates from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. daily at the following six schools:

  • Arbor Hill Elementary School, 1 Arbor Drive
  • Eagle Point Elementary School, 1044 Western Ave.
  • Giffen Memorial Elementary School, 274 South Pearl St.
  • New Scotland Elementary School, 369 New Scotland Ave.
  • Schuyler Achievement Academy, 676 Clinton Ave.
  • Sheridan Preparatory Academy, 400 Sheridan Ave.

The program has a limited capacity, with a maximum of 30 children per school (three classrooms with 10 children). The YMCA is staffing each room with two employees.

Online registration is available. Health and emergency personnel needing childcare are also welcome to call the YMCA at (518) 869-3500.

Health insurance assistance

NY State of Health is committed to ensuring access to affordable, quality health insurance for all New Yorkers so they can get the care they need during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Many New Yorkers are likely to be eligible for health coverage with financial assistance through NY State of Health due to their loss of coverage and income. NY State of Health opened a Special Enrollment Period in March to provide a safety net for people who are uninsured in difficult times like this. 

You can apply for health insurance immediately through NY State of Health. If you lost employer coverage, you must apply within 60 days of losing that coverage. 

Because of a loss of income, New Yorkers may also be eligible for Medicaid, the Essential Plan, Child Health Plus or subsidized Qualified Health Plan coverage. 

Visit NY State of Health online for more information. You also can contact the Marketplace directly at (518) 486-9102 or NYSE@health.ny.gov.

Mental health hotline

Along with the impact the COVID-19 outbreak is having on physical health, we can't underestimate the impact this pandemic is having on mental health. 

More than 6,000 mental health professionals have volunteered their time to help with New York’s response to COVID-19. For free emotional support, consultation and referral to a provider, call 1-844-863-9314. 

Domestic violence resources

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence has a message for victims during these challenging times: You are not alone.

Please call the New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline at 800-942-6906 for information on domestic violence resources in our community. You also can access these resources online.

Expanded mobile crisis hours

Northern Rivers has extended its hours for mobile crisis services. The expanded hours are:

  • Monday–Friday – 8 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Saturday–Sunday – 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
    • For immediate crisis services, call (518) 292-5499
    • For general information, call (518) 952-9032

Mobile crisis services provides telephone support for children, families and adults experiencing emotional and/or behavioral crisis, and for professionals working with these individuals. Northern Rivers also provides in-person crisis assessment and intervention for individuals experiencing emotional and/or behavioral crisis anywhere in the community.

For more information, visit Northern Rivers online.