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District updates and resources on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 31, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians of VCSD Students:

As you are likely aware, on March 27, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order closing schools until at least April 15. During this time, schools are required to provide continuity of instruction, meals for students and childcare resources every weekday, including days originally part of the previously scheduled spring break.

If the closure is not extended, we will return to school on-site on April 15. We will continue to monitor all available guidance and directives and keep you informed if this changes.

Please visit your child’s building website for more information on instructional resources and information for students and families. Meals are being delivered to our families. If you have questions or are in need please contact your building principal. Childcare resources for families of essential workers are also available.

The district is in the process of updating our communication system to meet the needs of our ever changing school environment.  If your contact information (email/phone number) has changed, please contact your child’s school office to update information accordingly.

Thank you for supporting your child’s learning to help them maintain connections and access to learning materials during this unprecedented time. Please continue to encourage your child to access learning materials as we begin to pivot our academic resources to new learning. The new district guidelines and more information on your child’s education will be up on our website soon. Staff will begin to transition over this week and begin new processes at the start of the new week.

We recognize that this is a stressful and challenging situation. We’re here to support you through it, and know that you are managing many personal and professional responsibilities. We would like to remind you of something that we often tell our students: All we can do is our best. We’ll get through this together.

Thank you all for your continued patience, understanding and support

Sincerely,

Frank Macri

Superintendent of Schools


March 28, 2020: Updated Letter regarding COVID-19/Coronavirus

Dear Parents and Guardians,

On March 27th, Governor Cuomo announced that schools in New York state will remain closed until April 15th.  On or prior to April 15th, the Governor will reassess the rates of the virus and decide to reopen schools or extend the closure.

During this time all sporting practices and events, rehearsals, school events, activities and after-school programs will also continue to be canceled.  While our schools are closed, our playground will also be closed for use by our families and community.

Information about meals, child care for essential workers and the latest updates concerning the ongoing COVID-19/Coronavirus situation may be found on our district website.

We know that the prolonged school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic raises many issues and questions. We are committed to working our way through all issues diligently and to providing as much information as we can, as often as we need to. We are here for our students, staff and community.

We will continue to follow guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New York State Department of Health, New York State Department of Education (NYSED) and the Albany County Public Health Department.

Specifically, school leaders continue to closely monitor guidance from NYSED about how these circumstances will impact the school calendar for the remainder of the academic year, including what this means for April break. We will share more information as soon as it is available.

Thank you for your understanding and support

Sincerely,

Frank Macri

Superintendent Of Schools

 


March 26, 2020: Updated Letter regarding COVID-19/Coronavirus

The district, as you are aware, has been closed, per the Governor's directive until April 1st. During a press conference today, March 26th, the Governor stated that they are evaluating a decision to bring students back or extend the closure. The decision to reopen school is not in the district's hands as we are to follow the Governor's directives. When we are aware of an extension of closure or confirmation that the district will open, a notification will be sent immediately to the community and posted on the website.

As the district has recently pivoted to a remote learning model for a time, you may have noticed that your child is connecting with their teacher and class through a software program called Google Meet. This powerful software is one of the 14 apps that are part of Google's Apps for Education G-suite of tools. All of the Google Apps for Education are fully compliant with all federal and state student privacy regulations (FERPA, COPPA, and NYS Education Law 2-d) and are approved for use by all district elementary and secondary students. The district takes the protection of all student data very seriously.

Our settings are such that students are not able to initiate or schedule any video conferencing on their own. However (because kids are clever) some students have found a loophole that allows them to enter a teacher initiated Google Meet video conferencing session after the teacher has finished with the session. Currently, the teacher is not able to "close" or delete the completed session. However, Google has updated its Google Meet software to allow teachers the ability to close or delete Google Meet sessions once they have finished using them. This update should take effect within a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we wanted you to be aware that students can chat unsupervised with each other within Google Meet and, although student interaction and socialization is certainly encouraged, we discourage this practice in unsupervised settings.

Sincerely,

Frank Macri
Superintendent


March 17, 2020: Updated Letter regarding COVID-19/ Coronavirus

As Information and protocols are changing at an unprecedented pace, I felt that giving an update of where we are as a district would be prudent.

As you are aware, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on March 16 that due to ongoing public health concerns related to COVID-19/Coronavirus, all schools in New York State will be closed for two weeks, effective Wednesday, March 18.

This means that VCSD will be closed through March 31, 2020. We are closely monitoring the situation at the state and local level, and will let you know if that closure needs to be extended.

We recognize the hardships these changes will place on our families. Please know that the district is committed to providing you with continued support during the closure.

A few priority items we would like to address:

  • The district is providing breakfast and lunch to families on the Free and Reduced Meal Program
  • If your child does not have the technological hardware needed to access academic/instructional resources, please contact your building principal. We are providing families with ChromeBooks as needed.
  • As previously announced, the VCSD has created educational resources for all students in grades K-12. We are expecting students to complete these assignments to the best of their ability and teachers will be providing feedback on that work. At this point, grades will not be given; however, this may change in the future. Because of this, we recommend that students use these resources daily and complete the assigned work in order to maintain or strengthen their knowledge and skills.
  • Starting on March 23rd, access to any of the school buildings will be by appointment only. Contact your child’s buildings main office to schedule a time when applicable. The buildings are accessible until Friday the 20th, from 8am -2pm.
  • We are reminding families and community members that the goal of the closures is to limit the spread of the virus. Utilizing the school campus for the playground, track, etc., could go against the suggested gathering size of C.D.C. and D.O.H.

We recognize that this extraordinary situation presents an array of difficulties for our students, employees and families. We are committed to doing everything we can to meet needs and support the community at this time.

The most current and accurate information about the coronavirus can be found at www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus.

Thank you for your continued understanding and partnership.

Sincerely,

Frank Macri
Superintendent of Schools


March 16, 2020: Updated Letter regarding COVID-19/ Coronavirus - 3:20 P.M.

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

With the rapidly evolving situation regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are proactively planning for the possibility of a longer school closure. We have taken several measures and have a plan to ensure your children will continue to be educated while at home while also providing breakfast and lunch for families in need.  We understand that the unknown is frightening and we do not know what tomorrow brings. If it anytime your circumstances change and you would like to understand options available through school, county, or outside services, please do not hesitate to call.

Governor Cuomo has closed NYS schools for two weeks beginning on March 18th. The district is waiting for guidance for clarification on the process at this time. Although the buildings are closed for students, we understand that there are items and resources that you or child might need that are on campus. For elementary, please contact the main office to coordinate a time to pick up items. For the secondary campus, students/families can come to the campus and follow the building protocols for entrance between 8:00-2:00, which follows D.O.H. guidelines. 

Each building’s website will have specific information pertaining to building protocols and plans. If you have any questions specific to a grade level or building, please contact that office/principal. 

EDUCATION OF STUDENTS WHILE SCHOOL IS CLOSED

Our teachers have been diligently working together to develop, gather, and align academic resources that students can use for parent-guided and self-guided learning, grades k-12, while school is closed. This will come in the form of links to resources, on-line platforms, and activities that will allow students to practice skills, review content, and explore topics at home. Please look for more information coming from your child’s school, school-specific website, and teacher. This plan was developed based on the current state and federal guidance.  I anticipate that this will change and our instructional plan will shift depending on the duration of the closure.

Contacting School

If you need to reach your child’s principal or teacher while school is closed, please call or email them directly. In the event that there is no answer in the office, email communication is preferred.

If you are finding that you need technology hardware to meet the academic needs of your child, please contact your building principal.  There are many options being made available for free Wi-Fi.  The district has reconfigured the secondary campus’ Wi-Fi to allow for access in the parking lots if needed.

Keep in mind, while we all need to be vigilant and cautious, it is important to stay calm and not contribute to undue panic. We are following the guidelines of the Department of Health and are taking every precaution necessary to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Please remember to check our website’s homepage and your child’s specific building’s site often for updates.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

Frank Macri
Superintendent


March 13, 2020: Letter regarding COVID-19/ Coronavirus and the week of March 16-20

Dear Parents and Guardians of VCSD,

This is an update on the rapidly evolving situation regarding COVID-19/Coronavirus. We continue to monitor all guidance from local, state and federal agencies. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the school district. However, out of an abundance of caution, we are joining with other area districts and closing school for students for the week of March 16-20, 2020.

Given that this is a rapidly evolving public health issue, we feel that this is the most proactive and prudent action available to us. This is designed to help limit the spread of illness and to provide time to reassess the situation next week.

Staff are to report for a professional development day on Monday. Because there are practical limits to trying to continue the instructional program in an online format, that will not be our goal. Our focus will be on sharing a variety of resources for parent-guided and self- guided learning for students. We plan to begin sharing these resources during the early part of next week. Families should look for more information around that time to be communicated via S.N.N. and our district website.

There will be no other events in the district the week of March 16-20. As an additional note, Capital Region BOCES CTE and Special Education programs will not be operating March 16-20.

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated during his press conference today, school superintendents have the ability to decide to close their school districts, and the superintendents of our region have made that determination.

The New York State Education Department continues to work with the governor’s office, the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Education to provide guidance to our schools around issues such as instructional time and test scheduling. This situation is very fluid and could change as we continue to work with our local departments of health and New York State Department of Health. The most current and accurate information about the coronavirus can be found at www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus.

Thank you for your continued patience and partnership, and we will provide you with more information as soon as we can.

Sincerely,

Frank Macri
Superintendent of Schools


March 12, 2020: Letter regarding COVID-19 and activities at Voorheesville Central School District

Dear Parents and Guardians of Voorheesville School District,

As you are aware, the situation regarding COVID-19/Coronavirus is rapidly evolving. The school district continues to monitor all guidance from local, state and federal agencies. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the school district. Our goal is to support the containment of the virus while safeguarding our students, staff, and community. We do have some updates to share regarding scheduled events.

The information below is based on the information available at this time. We will provide an update when applicable.

Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that there will be no public gatherings of larger than 500 people in New York State. Schools have been identified as an exception to this. Our plan is to continue with the regular school day, but place limits on after school, extracurricular, and community events.

Consistent with guidance from the state, CDC, and Albany County Department of Health, the district will be restricting large events while limiting community access to the campuses. While we understand this will be a disappointment to our school community, we believe this is in the best interests of public health for all. Please note the following that will go into effect in our school district on Friday, March 13, at 3:30 p.m. until April 20th (the end date is subject to change)

  • All use of school buildings by outside groups will be discontinued.
  • Continuing Education programs will not be held.
  • Community use of the pool held at Voorheesville High School is suspended.
  • Field trips and out-of-state travel are suspended.
  • Building level events are postponed

This Includes:

  • The High School Musical
  • Parent University
  • CYO events
  • Grade 9 and 10 parent night
  • The elementary science fair
  • The talent show
  • NYSSMA
  • If you have any questions regarding school events, please contact your child’s building principal.

We continue to emphasize that this is a rapidly changing situation and information is subject to change. We will provide as much notice as possible via SNN, and website if there are any changes to scheduled events or school. I encourage families that have not signed up for the School News Notifier on the district website, under the “parent” tab, to do so.

We recognize that the continuing public health concerns around COVID-19 raise many questions and considerations in our community. We are doing our best to provide as much information as possible in light of this evolving situation.

Thank you for your patience and partnership.

Sincerely,

Frank Macri
Superintendent of Schools


March 9, 2020: Mr. Macri's letter updating the community on the health and safety of our students and staff with regards to the Coronavirus

Dear Parent/Guardian:

With the recent news of confirmed cases of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, within the Capital Region, district officials are continuing to monitor information from local, state and federal officials. At this time, VCSD has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 nor is there any person in quarantine.

On Saturday, March 7, Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York, which gives the state certain purchasing and hiring abilities during this time. This declaration does not impact any school or district activities at this time.

Experts have not recommended that the district cancel or reschedule classes or other school events. State officials continue to emphasize that the general risk to the public is low and that while we all need to be vigilant and cautious, it is also important to stay calm and not contribute to any undue panic.

Regarding travel and quarantine measures, please know that the New York State Department of Health has made quarantine a mandatory measure for individuals returning to the United States from a known high-risk exposure area. Based on this, any student, student family member or employee who has traveled to a known high-risk exposure area should notify the school principal prior to coming to school, as well as the county health department.

https://health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

For more information, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s web page for coronavirus and travel, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/aftertravel-precautions.html

If the district becomes aware that one of our students or staff members is diagnosed with COVID-19, we will notify staff and parents/guardians. For now, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your children continue to be following standard preventive practices for influenza. There are a number of steps that students, staff and community members can take to minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, according to the New York State

Department of Health:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Heavily soiled hands should be washed.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • When calling your child in as absent please remember to share the symptoms and/or reasons for absence. This allows the district to track illness data.

It is important to note that exposure to COVID-19 can occur from any person-to-person contact and is not limited to a particular race or ethnicity.

More information about COVID-19 is available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

The state Department of Health also has information available on its website, including a coronavirus hotline: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/.

You can call the NYS Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 with questions or concerns about travel and symptoms.

We are preparing to meet the needs of our students and staff in the event the virus affects our community, including taking extra steps in cleaning the school buildings, providing hand sanitizer, and reinforcing handwashing messages.

We appreciate your support of our district and will share more information as it becomes available.

Please know that, as always, the health and safety of our students and staff is our highest priority, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of this illness.

Sincerely,

Mr. Frank Macri
Superintendent of Schools


February 28, 2020: Mr. Macri's letter updating the community on the health and safety of our students and staff with regards to the Coronavirus

Dear Parent/Guardian:

While the Voorheesville Central School District does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in our schools, we are aware of concerns in the community about the spread of this relatively new virus.

The district is closely monitoring this fluid situation and following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), Albany County Department of Health and the New York State Education Department.

Based on recent reports, COVID-19 is not actively circulating in New York State at this time.

If the district becomes aware that a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, it will immediately notify staff and parents/guardians. If a student or staff member shows respiratory symptoms, we will follow our current practices for handling respiratory illnesses, subject to any additional guidance forthcoming.

The district has infectious disease protocols in place and has been taking steps, such as cleaning and disinfecting throughout its schools, to minimize the spread of viruses and a variety of other illnesses.

There are a number of steps that students, staff and community members can take to minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, according to the state

Department of Health:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Heavily soiled hands should be washed.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you or a family member begin showing symptoms of a respiratory disease and suspect it may be COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider. Before going to your healthcare provider’s office, inform them that a case of COVID-19 is suspected, and follow their advice.

Local health departments will contact schools if a suspected or known COVID-19 case emerges. The district is prepared to work with any affected families.

Families are also encouraged to follow the CDC’s information for travel, available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html. For more information, consider consulting these additional resources:

  • Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

  • Travel: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html

  • COVID-19: What is Stigma and What Causes It?

 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019- ncov%2Fstig

 

  • Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Frequently Asked Questions - Prevention

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#prevention

  • Prevention, Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

In addition, New York has established a Novel Coronavirus Hotline, which can provide additional information. Call 1-888-364-3065 with questions or concerns about travel and symptoms.

The district will continue to share information as it becomes available.

Please know that, as always, the health and safety of our students and staff is our highest priority, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of this illness.

Sincerely,

Frank Macri
Superintendent of Schools


The Department of Health and New York State Education Department has released guidance regarding the Coronavirus and the potential impact on New York State Students.

Please see the attached letter:

Coronavirus

Information Resources

World Health Organization

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

New York State Department of Health

Call NYSDOH hotline at 1-888-364-3065  for more information about Coronavirus 

Albany County Department of Health

Talking to Children about the Coronavirus COVID-19

Travel and Coronavirus

Regarding travel and quarantine measures, please know that the New York State Department of Health has made quarantine a mandatory measure for individuals returning to the United States from a known high-risk exposure area. Based on this, any student, student family member or employee who has traveled to a known high-risk exposure area should notify the school principal prior to coming to school, as well as the Montgomery County Public Health Department at 518-853-3531.

For more information, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s web page for coronavirus and travel, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html

More information about COVID-19 is available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

The state Department of Health also has information available on its website, including a coronavirus hotline: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

You can call the NYS Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 with questions or concerns about travel and symptoms.