March 27 health updates

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Schools closed until April 15
Governor Cuomo announced Friday through Executive Order 202.11 that all schools in New York will be closed until Wednesday, April 15 due to continuing concerns about the spread of COVID-19. 

We are awaiting additional guidance from the state on several matters related to this extension, including the implications for our regularly scheduled holidays for Good Friday (April 10) and Spring Recess from April 13-17. We will continue to provide updates as we receive that guidance from the state. 

Academic update
In addition to the significantly expanded academic resources added to our website Thursday, we have trained our teachers at all grade levels in Google Classroom and they will be working to establish Google Classrooms for all classes beginning next week. The district has provided support to teachers this week in preparing for the transition to online learning. 

Parents and guardians, please share this information with your students. Student gmail accounts will be activated to facilitate the Google Classroom environment. Watch your mail for a letter next week with more information about this. 

Teachers will reach out to students early next week via Google Classroom with a question for students to answer. This will help our teachers assess which students have accessed the Google Classroom and which students we will need to reach out to directly to follow up. Teachers will conduct a review lesson with students on Google Classroom to build their own capacity as well as their students’ capacity in this new environment.

We know that you have had many questions and that grading is on top of that list. Please know that grading is under discussion with the guidance of New York State Education Department and Capital Region BOCES. More information will be forthcoming.

Finally, some parents and guardians have asked how they can structure the day. Encouraging students to remain on a routine while home is a good way to promote physical and emotional health.  

The district recommends that students in all grade levels engage in a variety of activities to keep their brains active, bodies healthy and hearts full. Our mailing next week also will include sample activities and schedules to assist you in planning each day for your students. 

Meal program updates
In our second week of providing meals to students, and in our first week with the delivery option launched Tuesday, the district provided a total of 18,300 meals to families this week. That includes nearly 7,400 meals on Friday alone, when our service also included meals for the weekend. 

We will continue both our on-site pickup and delivery options throughout the closure and anticipate opening up that service to more families during the week of March 30. Please stay tuned for more information. We also will be adding a seventh site for students and families to pick up meals -- Schuyler Achievement Academy. These schools will be open each weekday from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., with weekend meal pickup also available on Fridays:

  • 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.

Our sincerest thanks to all who have committed their time and efforts to serving our families, including School Lunch Director Lisa Finkenbinder and her Food Service Department team. We also are grateful to all administrators, faculty and staff members who have pitched in, as well as to our volunteers through Christ’s Church Albany and our transportation partners at First Student and CDTA. 

We are all in for Albany!

Talking to children about COVID-19: A parent resource 
The National Association of School Psychologists offers a wide range of suggestions to help parents and guardians talk with children about COVID-19.

These suggestions include remaining calm and assuring, making yourself available to young people, keeping explanations age-appropriate, avoiding excessive blaming, monitoring television and social media exposure, maintaining a normal routine to the extent possible, being honest and accurate, knowing the symptoms of COVID-19, reviewing and modeling basic hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices for protection, and discussing new rules or practices for school.

OCFS childcare survey
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services is asking parents, guardians and caregivers who are in need of childcare to complete a Parent Need for Childcare survey.

Based on the information collected in this survey, OCFS may be able to help families find the childcare program to meet their needs. It may be a challenge to find childcare due to COVID-19-related closures. However, OCFS is trying its best to support families to find high-quality childcare programs.

The OCFS website also has several resources available.

Picking up medications at school
In the event of an emergency, parents and guardians who need to pick up medication that is currently stored at school can contact Health Services Coordinator Suzanne McCarthy to schedule a time to pick up the medication.

Parents and guardians can contact the health services coordinator at (518) 475-6730 or They should be sure to include their child’s name and school, and the best phone number where they can be reached. The health services coordinator will contact them to make arrangements to pick up medications.

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.