Albany’s newest school buildings probably won’t sit completely empty when the school year starts even though, because of the corona crisis, all instruction will be done online.
Meadow Ridge Elementary School cost about $40 million to build and is now complete. “Owner occupancy,” in the words of the construction schedule, is supposed to be this month.
I was wondering whether this grand new school, as well as the new Oak Grove School in North Albany, completed last year at a cost of $28 million, will get some use when the school year has its start for students on Sept. 14. Could teachers, for example, do their online teaching from the new buildings?
“Yes,” replied spokesman Andrew Tomsky of the Greater Albany Public Schools on Monday, “we are working on giving teachers the option to do virtual instruction from inside school buildings.”
The alternative, presumably, would have them work from home.
“We do anticipate both of those buildings being limitedly used by teachers and maintenance staff,” Tomsky went on. “It is obviously a big disappointment to not have kids in the new buildings, especially Meadow Ridge, and hopefully we will be able to offer in-person instruction sooner than later.”
The soonest that can happen under the plan that GAPS recently announced is Oct. 19. Until then, remote or virtual schooling will be the only option.
In a report to the state Education Department attached to the Aug. 17 agenda of the school board, GAPS summarizes how its system of “comprehensive distance learning” will work.
There are two models for kindergarten through 12th grade. One is the Albany Online program of long standing. Families can also choose what GAPS calls its “interactive at home” model. The district says both meet state and national content standards and the “district aligned curriculum,” whatever that means exactly.
To make sure everyone has access, the district wants to make sure all students have computers of their own. It says it will distribute Chrome Pads to the families of all children in kindergarten and first grade, and Chromebooks to students in grades 2-12. In practice, Tomsky told me, this means families can pick up these items if they need them.
The district also will offer parents and students online training in the use of the technology, the report to the state says. “We have also purchased and will continue to distribute wi-fi hot spots to families and the community to ensure that every student has reliable internet access.”
How much extra is all of this costing? I’ll report that when I know. (hh)