*3/17: This letter has been updated to reflect the new return date of April 2*
We would like to share an update regarding our planning and preparation ahead of the upcoming cancellation of classes in the New Lebanon Central School District. Earlier today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced all schools in New York state will be closed for at least two weeks beginning Wednesday, March 18. As previously announced, we have cancelled all classes from the 18th through the 27th. At this time, we will extend the cancellation until April 1, with a return to school on April 2. As more information is released from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) we will provide further updates regarding our schedule.
Although Columbia County does not have any confirmed cases at this time, we are using an abundance of caution to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to ease public anxiety about schools being in session during this public health crisis. Our teachers at both schools are working diligently to prepare for a continuity of learning in the absence of classes.
At Walter B. Howard, teachers are using a variety of approaches to do this. Some examples include sending material home with students, emailing links and directions, and Google Classroom assignments. Your child’s teacher will be in regular communication with you through email, Class Dojo or other means. Please make sure the main office and your child’s teacher has your most updated email address. Today, March 16th, we provided students with trade books to read at home. These books are for you and your family to enjoy and keep at home. If your child has been absent the last couple days, we have collected their materials for you to pick up. You are free to visit the Main Office on Tuesday (3/17) to pick up any materials.
At the Junior/Senior High School, teachers will use electronic methods to remotely provide assignments to students (Google Classroom, Google Sites, eboards and email). Correspondence to students will occur through school-issued Google accounts. Teachers will be available while classes are not in session to correspond with students with regard to their work. Students are encouraged to reach out to them with questions and concerns regarding their assignments.
We understand that not all students may have access to the Internet or the necessary hardware to receive assignments. We encourage these families to notify the Main Office as soon as they are able so that we can make arrangements for hard copies of the materials to either be picked up or sent out to you (depending on the guidance provided to schools in the days ahead).
We are currently planning to have both the WBH and JSHS main offices open on Wednesday, March 25th from 9am to 12pm to answer questions and return any phone calls and assist you however we can, including with the distribution of hard copies of assignments if necessary.
Beginning Wednesday, we will deliver a combined breakfast and lunch to students on a daily basis throughout our closure. These delivery routes will follow our usual bus runs and bus stops, but will run from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Regulations require that we physically hand the meal to a student. We cannot hand the meals to adults. Please be prepared to come out to the bus to receive your meals.
All meals delivered to students while classes are cancelled will be free of charge, regardless of a family’s free/reduced price lunch eligibility.
As we get a better idea of how many people will want to receive these meals, the runs will become more regular and predictable. For now, we ask for everyone’s understanding and flexibility as we get a handle on this new operation.
There will undoubtedly be more information coming to us by both NYSED and the New York State Department of Health. Be assured that the school district will forward the information to families as it becomes known to us. In the meantime, stay diligent, stay healthy and stay safe.