Dear North Colonie Community,
I hope that you all have had a nice and relaxing holiday break. As you may have seen in the media on Saturday, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said that he recommended all schools in the county go on pause. Although it was reported that a meeting would take place with superintendents on Sunday, in actuality, all Albany County school superintendents met with representatives from the county, as well as Albany County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen on Saturday evening. In the meeting, it was clear that while the decision to reopen remains a local decision, all available data indicates that the rate of virus transmission in schools is low, and therefore, it is safe to reopen. County Executive McCoy released an additional statement last night following the meeting, which you can view here.
The purpose of this message is to affirm that our schools will reopen for in-person learning tomorrow, Monday, Jan. 4. Unless staffing shortages require all-remote learning or there is evidence of broader virus transmission in schools, our schools will remain open for in-person learning. We will continue to work with our public health partners to monitor all available information, including how the increased infection rates relate to schools. At school, all of our health and safety precautions remain fully in effect.
There is no easy one-size-fits-all decision, whether from district to district or family to family. It is incumbent upon us to look at the data before us and make the most informed decision we can with the evidence available. Based on this review and after consultation with Dr. Whalen, we have seen that schools can open safely amid this pandemic. In addition to the national data on school safety during this pandemic, Dr. Whalen said “schools are controlled environments, and the schools in this region have done a really good job on infection control.” The superintendents of the Capital Region BOCES area are united in our belief that schools are the best place for children to be during the day.
We realize, however, that some families may prefer to keep their children home in this period immediately following the holidays. If you wish to switch your child to remote learning for the next two weeks, please contact your child’s principal by noon on Monday. If you choose this option, please know that work will be posted on Google Classroom for Monday. A more detailed plan for the two weeks of remote instruction will be sent home by your building principal on Monday afternoon. This plan will include the means by which we will provide teacher support for the students who are learning at home. The two weeks will not merely consist of asynchronous work posted in a Google Classroom.
As of right now, the North Colonie Central School district has confirmed 23 positive cases in our school community since Wednesday, Dec. 23. The information on these cases and any additional cases will be shared once we return to school on Monday. As always, anyone who was impacted has already been contacted.
Certainly, there is hope on the horizon with the distribution of the vaccine, but we recognize the upcoming weeks will be challenging. Please remember to stay safe, wear a mask, practice social distancing and be mindful of who you are gathering with.
I want to thank you all for your continued support and understanding. I also want to thank those of you who have reached out to express your opinions and concerns on either side of our reopening decision. The support and gratitude you have shown us is so valued and appreciated.
We are all in this together, and we all have to do our part to slow the spread of this virus.
If you have any questions, please reach out to your child’s school principal.
D. Joseph Corr
Superintendent of Schools