District shifting to distance learning due to COVID-19 surge

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All City School District of Albany schools have shifted to distance learning until Jan. 18 due to the significant increase in COVID-19 cases since the holiday break.

The district reported 266 new COVID-19 cases from Dec. 23, the first day of holiday break, through Tuesday, Jan. 4. That’s an average of nearly 21 new cases per day over that period of time as the highly contagious Omicron variant has spread rapidly throughout Albany County.

Due to the impact of this dramatic surge on district staffing levels, and to help slow the spread of the disease within our school community, the district will shift to distance learning until Tuesday, Jan. 18 (following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, Jan. 17).

At this time, the district is planning a phased re-entry for students beginning Jan. 18. We will continue to evaluate health and safety considerations while students are engaged in distance learning, and will have more information next week about our plans and timeline for a return to in-person instruction.

Instruction via Google Classroom

All schools will send students home with Chromebooks and chargers Wednesday.

Secondary (grades 6-12)

All secondary students will follow their regular period-by-period schedule, with the exception of study halls and lunch periods.  Students will login to their course Google Classrooms to access the Google Meet links and rotate through the daily schedule. Students will be able to access instructional materials in the Google Classroom.

Elementary (prekindergarten-grade 5)

All elementary students will login to their Google Classroom to access their teacher’s Google Meet link. Teachers will conduct their regular schedule as posted in the Google Classroom. However, students will not be engaged in screen time for the entire day. Teachers will balance direct instruction in Google Meet with independent practice for students when not in Google Meet. The students’ day will mirror the regular day, with encore teachers meeting with students in Google Meet as scheduled. All information will be available in each classroom teacher’s Google Classroom.   

Please remember that students should use their new district login credentials to access Google Classroom. You can contact your teacher or principal if you need help with that.

COVID-19 test kit pickup

COVID-19 test kits were distributed from our Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center on Jan. 2, and we available for pickup from schools throughout the week of Jan. 3-7. 

Parents and guardians who have not yet picked up their test kits should call their child’s school to make arrangements do so.

Parents and guardians should report all positive test results to the Albany County Health Department using this link. Please also report any positive cases to your school nurse; you can find contact information for our nurses on each school’s web page.

In-person COVID-19 testing

The district will conduct in-person COVID-19 saliva swab testing for all students and employees at the locations listed below beginning Friday. 

Pre-registration is required. Please use this link to pre-register if you have not already done so. Appointments are not needed. If you are not pre-registered, we will not be able to test you and you will be asked to return when you’re registered.  If you need assistance registering, please contact your child’s school.

Please remember that for a COVID-19 saliva swab test you must wait at least one hour after brushing your teeth or using mouthwash before testing. Also, do not eat or drink anything 30 minutes before testing. This includes gum, mints, cough lozenges, etc.

Beginning Friday, COVID-19 testing will be conducted from 9:00 a.m.-3:00p.m. daily at each of these locations through Friday, Jan. 14:

  • Albany High School, 700 Washington Ave.
  • Arbor Hill Elementary School, 1 Arbor Drive
  • Giffen Memorial Elementary School, 274 South Pearl St.
  • Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 75 Watervliet Ave.
  • Tony Clement Center for Education, 395 Elk St.
  • William S. Hackett Middle School, 45 Delaware Ave.

Meal pickup

Meal pickup will be available at each school on the following schedule while students are engaged in distance learning. Please note that you can pick up meals at the school closest to your home and do not need to pick up at the school your child attends. 

Thursday, Jan. 6

  • 10 a.m.-noon at all schools
  • Tony Clement Center for Education and Albany High School’s Abrookin Career and Technical Center will not offer pickup; families can pick up at any other district school

Friday, Jan. 7

  • 10 a.m.-noon at all schools
  •  Clement and Abrookin families can pick up at any other district school

Monday, Jan. 10

  • Elementary only (not including Edmund J. O’Neal School of Excellence)
  • Meals for two days will be available from 9-11 a.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 11

  • Middle and high schools only (including all programs at O’Neal; Clement and Abrookin families can pick up at any other district school)
  • Meals for five days will be available from 9-11 a.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 12

  • Elementary only (not including O’Neal)
  • Meals for three days will be available from 9-11 a.m.

In-person extracurricular activities

In-person extracurricular activities such as sports and theater will continue on the regular schedules while students are on distance learning. Please check with your coach or faculty advisor for updates and information specific to your student’s activity.

School-based after-school programs will not operate while students are engaged in distance learning. School-based after-school clubs may meet virtually during this time; please check with your club’s faculty advisor for more information.

Spectators at all home athletic events will be limited to two individuals per student-athlete until further notice. Wearing masks will continue to be mandatory at all times inside all district buildings.