June 4 district updates

Picture of Giffen Memorial Elementary School Home School Coordinator Kenneth Griffin


Perspectives in Online Learning

Thursday's installment of Perspectives in Online Learning features a vignette from Giffen Memorial Elementary School Home School Coordinator Kenneth Griffin.       

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!

Final Budget Town Hall meeting Saturday

The district will hold its last Budget Town Hall meeting Saturday from 10-11 a.m. It will be the final opportunity to learn more about the 2020-21 budget proposal in advance of the June 9 voting deadline. 

The budget meeting will use the same Google Meet platform as regular board meetings. For more information, please 2020-21 Budget Information, which includes a link you can use to submit questions in advance or live during a meeting. You also can access the question form directly at albanyschools.org/questions. The meeting will be co-moderated by Spectrum News "Capital Tonight" host Susan Arbetter and Albany NAACP Vice President Gwen Pope.

Budget vote, board election ballot update

If you have not yet received a ballot for the budget vote and Board of Education election, please contact District Clerk Tanya Bowie at (518) 475-6015 or tbowie@albany.k12.ny.us

We have developed step-by-step guidelines to assist voters in completing and returning absentee ballots. 

Ballots can be returned via U.S. mail, although please allow a little extra time due to COVID-19. You also can drop off your ballot at Academy Park each weekday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. through the voting deadline, Tuesday, June 9. All ballots are due by 5 p.m. on June 9. Any ballots received after that time will not be counted, even if they are postmarked prior to the deadline.

New information line for support services

The City School District of Albany is establishing 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 will be available beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, and will be available from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily through Thursday, June 18. 

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.

Social distancing reminder

As the Capital Region continues Phase 1 of the COVID-19 reopening process, please continue to keep in mind social distancing guidelines as we all try to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help our city, our region and our state return to operations in a way that is safe for all.

Stay home whenever possible, maintain a minimum of six feet between yourself and other individuals if you must go out, and wear a mask if you cannot adhere to those social distancing guidelines. You can find helpful information about social distancing practices on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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. 

Albany High graduation, secondary promotion ceremony information

As we close in on the end of the school year, all of our schools are working on virtual ceremonies and other activities that adhere to social distancing protocols to recognize the achievements of students celebrating milestone years.

We are sharing the following information about events at the secondary level. Please stay tuned for information about events at the elementary level. In every case, each school will have more detailed information about these activities for their students and families. 

Albany High School

  • Commencement activities for the Class of 2020 will occur Sunday, June 28. This will include a virtual graduation ceremony at 10 a.m., and a graduation parade beginning at 11:30 a.m. 
    • Albany High also is considering a more traditional graduation ceremony in August for both our June and summer graduates, depending on the guidance regarding in-person gatherings at that time in relation to COVID-19.  

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.
  • William S. Hackett Middle School – Tuesday, June 16 at 9 a.m.

Albany International Center 

  • Tuesday, June 16 at 11 a.m., online student recognition event

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. The deadline to make up work for the third quarter is Friday, May 29

Meal delivery updates for the final weeks of school

The district will move from daily meal delivery to three times a week over the final two weeks of the school year beginning Monday. However, we still will deliver meals for all seven days of the week during that time to the approximately 2,400 students we are serving.

  • During the week of June 8, meal delivery will be Monday-Wednesday-Friday
  • During the week of June 15, meal delivery will be Monday-Wednesday-Thursday (Thursday, June 18 is the last day of the 2019-20 school year)

Our 23 buses will deliver meals for multiple days each day of operation.

We also will continue to have our seven “grab and go” locations, which are listed below. The district has served more than 291,000 meals to date during the school closure. As a reminder, our seven “grab and go” locations through June 18 will be open each weekday from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. 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.

Our summer meals “grab and go” program will begin Monday, June 22; it has not been determined yet if we will be permitted by federal regulations to deliver meals during the summer. Please watch for more information.

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.