Marking one year in a global health crisis

A head-and-shoulders photo of Superintendent Adams

This week marked one year since COVID-19 enveloped the Capital Region and significantly changed the face of education for our students and families.

The worldwide pandemic has affected everyone throughout society over these 12 difficult months – some in the most unimaginable ways due to the loss of life, social-emotional challenges, health care disparities and economic turns that COVID-19 has and continues to cause. 

We all have learned so much over the past year. 

We know that our students, families, faculty and staff have faced so many challenges during this global health crisis. 

We have shouldered the impact of COVID-19. We have worked through the challenges and been resilient, flexible and innovative in our strategies to adapt and persevere to meet the needs of our students, families, faculty and staff. 

From the first day of our school building closure last March, we were able to provide meals to our families to address the acute food insecurity that many experienced almost immediately. We were able to add meal delivery, and continued to expand that service throughout the spring. 

We provided more than 353,000 meals to our families from March-June last year through the courageous efforts of our staff as well as volunteers. We have continued those efforts in the current school year, and we are grateful to all who have made this critically important effort possible. 

We have worked tirelessly to deploy technology to continue educating all of our students, and to provide professional development for our teachers and support staff in delivering instruction through Google Classroom. 

By early April last year we had distributed nearly 4,000 Chromebooks to students, prioritizing a device-per-household model to stretch our limited resources as far as we could at that time – and at a time when the state still was measuring the closure of school buildings in two-week increments.

Today, we have 11,000 Chromebooks throughout the district and have achieved a 1:1 computing model. We are grateful as well to all of the community partners who also supported the technology needs of our students and families.

We know there are some students who have benefitted from distance learning. We also know there are a significant number who have not. 

We place a high value on all of the benefits of going to school in-person, both instructionally and from a social-emotional perspective. Yet, we also know that we will need to maintain the balance of instructional delivery modalities that technology now provides in a distance learning platform.

We are so excited to have the opportunity to welcome more of our students back to school in-person during the current marking period, and very much looking forward to a continued expansion of in-person opportunities during the fourth quarter.

This will include expanded extracurricular opportunities and activities to address the growth and development of the whole child. 

Our planning committees started their work this month to look ahead to the 2021-22 school year. We will do that work with the goal of offering in-person instruction for every student whose family wants to choose that option next school year. 

However, we are mindful that we remain in the midst of a global health crisis, and that we must continue to be vigilant about all health and safety guidelines as we move forward. As we have throughout the past year, we will continue to follow all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and our state and county health departments. 

None of this has been easy, and it has not been perfect. 

I am grateful to our Board of Education, and all of our faculty and staff, for doing their best throughout this crisis to meet the needs of our students. I also am grateful to every district family, and all of our community partners, for remaining “All in for Albany!” throughout this very challenging year.

Yours in education,

Kaweeda G. Adams