Columbia shuts down schools

Contributed photo/FileAn aerial view of the Hudson Junior-Senior High School. Hudson students and students in all other Columbia County school districts are preparing to switch to online distance learning as a way of slowing down the spread of the coronavirus.

After consulting with local health departments, superintendents in the Questar III BOCES region decided to close all school districts in Columbia and Greene counties from March 18 to March 27.

Columbia County did not have any confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Monday morning.

Because this is not a mandated closure, some schools have adjusted their schedules to best meet their needs and implement procedures.

“We understand this is an inconvenience for our families, but our primary concern is the health and safety of our students and staff,” said Hudson City School District Superintendent Maria Lagana Suttmeier said in a Sunday evening letter to parents. “Ultimately, we wanted to be thoughtful about planning and not make a sudden decision that does not allow our families and staff to prepare for what could be a more extended closing.”

Suttmeier said HCSD students and staff should plan on attending school Monday and Tuesday to gather belongings, materials and other items needed for a prolonged closing. She also shared a survey about technology in the homes of students, which can be found on the school website.

The district is working on the best option for maintaining the district’s breakfast and lunch programs during a prolonged closure, Suttmeier said.

The Hudson Area Library will be closed and all events are suspended from March 18 through the end of the month.

Ichabod Crane Central School District will be closed March 17 through March 27. A full list of postponed and canceled events can be found on the district’s website.

Tuesday will be a professional development day for teachers and administrators to work together to identify resources for students, according to the district’s website.

The district has identified three locations where families can pick up a daily free bagged breakfast and lunch for children under the age of 18 who are present at pick-up starting Tuesday.

ICSD Food Service Manager Todd DiGrigoli said the three locations will be the Ichabod Crane High School Cafeteria side entrance from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., First Presbyterian Church at 3212 Church St. in Valatie from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at 1820 State Route 9 in Stuyvesant Falls from 10 a.m. to noon.

New Lebanon Central School District is also open Monday and Tuesday, and will close Wednesday to hold a staff day.

New Lebanon Superintendent Leslie Whitcomb said in a letter to parents that the district is developing a plan to provide meals to students, and information will be provided this week.

Taconic Hills Central School District is in session Monday and Tuesday. Superintendent Neil Howard Jr. encouraged parents in a letter to send students to school these days so they can gather needed materials. Friday is a planned Superintendent’s Conference Day for staff that will be held.

Germantown Central School District is holding a Superintendent’s Conference Day for staff Mon., March 16. Tuesday will be a day for studetns and staff to attend school to gather belongings and education materials. Teachers will contact parents and guardians directly with materials, either online or in paper packets.

“We encourage you to maintain a schedule and routine to provide as much normalcy as possible for your child,” Superintendent Susan L.S. Brown said in a letter to parents.

Berkshire Union Free School district will follow the recommendation and will close Wednesday through March 27.

Chatham Central School District will be closed through March 27. All extracurricular activities are suspended. The Chatham Public Library is closed.

“Chatham is taking the additional step of canceling classes this Monday and Tuesday to allow our faculty time to prepare instructional materials and resources for students in the event of a longer-term closing,” a letter on the district’s website read.

Due to many schools moving to online distance learning, Spectrum is offering free internet connectivity for up to 60 days to households with kindergarten through college students who do not have internet. Parents or guardians were urged to call 1-844-488-8395 to enroll on Monday.

The Hudson Youth Department’s after-school program will be suspended through March 27. Youth Department Director Nick Zachos said the center is working with the Hudson Central School District and other service providers to ensure that essential services and meals are still provided to families.

Columbia-Greene Community College is extending its spring break for students by one week, through March 27.

“This calendar change will allow the college additional time to develop plans to transition courses, wherever possible, to remote instruction including distance and online learning,” an email from Director of Marekting and Communications Jaclyn Stevenson said.

Parents and guardians throughout the county are advised to check their student’s school district’s website regularly.

Abby Hoover is a reporter for Columbia-Greene Media. Contact her at or (518) 828-1616 x 2500.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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