March 30 health updates

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Chromebook distribution to students this week
The City School District of Albany is preparing to distribute nearly 1,600 Chromebooks to students this week to help families bridge the digital divide during the school closure due to COVID-19, which will continue until April 15.

The district identified these households as a priority during phone calls to approximately 85% of our students last week. Our distribution will provide one Chromebook to each of the identified households so that we can serve as many families as possible. 

Families identified to receive a Chromebook will be contacted via an automated phone call Tuesday with specific information about where and when they will be able to pick up their assigned Chromebook later this week.

Academic reminders
Teachers at all grade levels are in the process this week of creating Google Classrooms for all classes and engaging with students in these learning environments in anticipation of introducing new instruction beginning next Monday, April 6. 

Within Google Classroom, there are several methods that teachers may use for instruction: pre-recorded (asynchronous) lessons, real-time (synchronous) instruction and teacher-designed learning activities. Your child’s classroom teacher will provide a more specific plan in their communication with you. We want all students and families to make every effort to engage with these new learning opportunities. We also understand there will be times when families will have conflicts with a scheduled time for a class, so daily lessons may be recorded. 

It is important for students to stay connected with their teachers and ask parents or guardians to communicate concerns or questions to the teacher as they arise.

The district would like to share the following resources to help students and families get started in and familiar with Google Classroom:

•    Student Login Guide
•    Google Classroom Cheat Sheet for Students

In preparation for these new learning opportunities, families can help by:

•    Helping students choose a quiet workspace.
•    Encouraging students to stay up to date with learning material.
•    Helping students with academics when possible.
•    Helping students balance work and free time.
•    Encouraging screen-free downtime (outdoor time, creative pursuits, exercise, etc.).
•    Contacting teachers, counselors or principals if you have questions or concerns.

This week, teachers are reaching out to students this 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.

Also, as a reminder we have significantly expanded our online academic resources for students at all grade levels. 

We hope this information is helpful as we begin the transition to new learning. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher, school counselor or principal via email. 

Field trips and conferences cancelled through May
The district has extended the cancellation of all field trips and conferences through the end of May. This applies to all local, regional and out-of-state field trips and conferences, and will remain in effect no matter when we are allowed to reopen our schools for regular operations.

Meal program updates
As a reminder, the district added a seventh school location for the meal pickup service beginning Monday: Schuyler Achievement Academy. 

Each of these schools is open from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. each weekday, in addition to our daily meal delivery service:

•    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.

The district also is offering daily meal delivery and is working on plans to serve even more families with that option. 

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 Redeemer Church, and our transportation partners at First Student and CDTA. 

We are all in for Albany!

Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): 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.