The school board met on Friday, April 24th and made the decision to close schools for the remainder of the school year and continue the virtual learning model that ACSD#1 began on April 6, 2020.  This decision was made in response to guidance from the Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jillian Balow who clarified in a press conference on Thursday, April 23, 2020 that recent health orders would remain in effect beyond the April 30, 2020 expiration.

School board trustees expressed concerns about the unfortunate and unprecedented circumstances we now face.  Trustees also shared comments about their sincere concern for our students’ safety and well-being, but ultimately, acknowledged that the closure of schools was in the best interest of our community.

All is not lost for education in Albany County with this decision.  I know that many of our employees and parents needed some certainty that this decision provides. However, many people are concerned that now that this decision is made, students and educators will relax and not engage with the learning provided by the virtual learning model. I offer the following challenge and a reminder from history to guide us through the next four weeks.

One of my favorite educational writers from Stanford University, Professor Larry Cuban, shared a story in a recent blog post about the Chicago Public Schools that had to shut down in 1937 due to polio. The blog post shares a reprint from The Washington Post article published on April 3, 2020 from assistant professor, Michael Hines.  Hines begins the article,

“A rapidly spreading virus with no known cure or vaccine. Chicago-area schools closed. Experiments in remote learning and concerns over access to technology. This has happened before.”

Hines continues to explain how the community engaged in remote learning through a technology solution available at that time—the radio. There were a number of lessons learned, but in the final analysis, reporter, Larry Wolters, of The Chicago Daily Tribute[i] concluded, “as the polio crisis showed, it had ‘become increasingly more apparent that the most radio can do in the teaching role is to stimulate thinking and to inspire further study.’ Even though technology has come a long way in the decades since, it is a safe bet that any plan for virtual instruction now will come to the same conclusion.”

Ultimately it comes down to recognizing what’s most important. You are never going to have this much time with your family again. Take advantage of not having all the various sports or activities. Do things you haven’t been able to do together. Play more. Go on a virtual safari. Teach your kids life lessons (how to cook, how to do laundry, how to make a budget, etc.), Make memories by learning, stimulating thought, and inspiring further study.  We talk about family first in ACSD#1—building relationships and take this time to discover.


[i] Larry Wolters, “Broadcast Food for Thought? Use Sugar Coating!” Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, IL), Sept. 19, 1937.