An update on instruction – March 27

Dear Members of our North Colonie Community,

As we indicated in our earlier email, the Governor has extended the school closure until April 15. Beginning Monday, March 30 we will be shifting into more of a digital learning mode with the introduction of new instruction. 

During this last week, we have worked diligently as a district and as part of a larger region under the auspices of Capital Region BOCES to establish digital resources and a framework for distance teaching and learning that will best meet the needs of all children. This shift to learning at home is designed to support students in their journey through K-12 education. Student learning remains vital as it provides the foundation for future grades, courses, and in some cases postsecondary plans. While continued learning is essential, our number one priority has always been the health and safety of our students and staff, and that priority must continue. As we work to expand instruction for students, we are mindful of the uncertain nature of the times and the stressors that our students and their families are facing. Equity in opportunities and outcomes is a vital charge of our work and actions.

What will digital instruction look like?

  • Teachers have created meaningful learning opportunities for students with assignments that can be completed easily while students are at home. 
    • The instruction will focus on key learning standards for the discipline or grade level.
    • All new instruction will be recorded and will include teacher demonstration so students can watch at a time that is convenient for them.
    • Students may watch instructional videos created by their own teachers, videos created regionally or instructional videos from Khan Academy or other vetted, high quality sources for the discipline. 
    • Assignments will be able to be completed with limited resources. For example, you will not need poster boards, craft supplies, etc.
    • Resources will be directly linked to Google Classroom or the learning management system used by the teacher 
  • Teachers will check their email daily and be available to students with office hours for a minimum of one hour each day.

How was the curriculum for digital learning determined?

  • Teachers, working with their supervisors, have prioritized learning standards to create a focused curriculum model which provides exposure to and instruction in the most important standards/foundational learning for a course/grade. In particular, standards that are foundational for future learning in other courses/grade levels have been prioritized.
  • Teachers of college courses are following instructions they have received from the affiliated colleges/universities.
  • Teachers of Advanced Placement courses are following information provided by The College Board aligned with the updated exams that are being developed based on content covered from September through early March. See the College Board website for more information.

How much time should I expect my child to be spending on school work?

We all recognize that this is an incredibly stressful time. For some families, a school-like routine makes sense and provides stability. For other families, a flexible schedule works best and provides needed relief from the stress of the times. We developed these recommendations in order to be true to our mission of supporting students academically as well as socially and emotionally. One could argue that in addition to physical health, everyone’s social and emotional health is a priority right now. 

Accordingly, working internally and with other schools in the region, we have developed guidelines around how much time students should be spending on academic work. 

Each week, students should be expected to spend no more than the following amount of time on their school work at home, including: learning new material, watching instructional videos, participating in class chats, and completing assigned work:

  • K-2: 3-4 hours total (all subjects) per week
  • 3-4: 5 hours total (all subjects) per week 
  • 5-6: 7.5 hours total (all subjects) per week
  • 7-8: 1.5-2 hours for each core subject (ELA, math, science, social studies and world language) per week and 1 hour for each special area subject per week
  • 9-12: 2.5-3 hours per credit bearing course per week
  • Additional optional resources will be provided

These guidelines were structured as weekly guidelines with the intent of giving families the flexibility of creating daily schedules that work best for them.

How will student work be assessed?

Grades for students and awarding of course credit must be aligned with guidance from the New York State Education Department and our school district policies. We will, however, proceed with an abundance of caution with an understanding of the extraordinary times in which we are living and the extraordinary pressures families are facing. Accordingly, during this time, students will receive feedback on all work but will not be graded for their work. 

  • Teachers will use varied forms of informal assessments and assignments with opportunities for revision, resubmission and remedial supports.
  • Feedback will be provided to students on assignments that are submitted. Feedback will indicate whether or not the student has demonstrated learning of the content and standards. 
  • If in-person classes resume prior to the end of the year, the district’s traditional grading practices will resume.

During these unprecedented times, we realize more than ever the strength of our community. We are proud to be your partners in this endeavor and we are here to support you as we navigate our new reality together.

Take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and each other.


D. Joseph Corr
Superintendent of Schools

Kathleen Skeals
Deputy Superintendent