Poughkeepsie, Arlington, Spackenkill districts switch to distance learning, provide meals following school closures

Graphic by Ciara Murray-Jordan.

On March 13, Dutchess County declared a State of Emergency in response to the increasing presence of COVID-19 cases in the county. Effective Monday, March 16, all public and private schools are closed for two weeks. Well in advance of the county’s first confirmed case Thursday, school districts began precautionary measures, such as canceling events, sanitizing school buildings and evaluating available resources for long-term school closure.

The Arlington Board of Education passed a resolution at its school board meeting on March 10 that allows for the purchase of “necessary supplies and services to combat the spread of COVID-19.” Arlington Central School District (ACSD) custodial staff prioritizes disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces every day. 

Before closures, the Poughkeepsie City School District (PCSD) conducted after-school cleanings and deep cleanings on Saturdays. 

Following County Executive Marc Molinaro’s announcement on Friday, schools transitioned to distance learning, making plans over the weekend and finalizing instructional materials on Monday. In his Friday statement to district families, Spackenkill Superintendent of Schools Mark Villanti referred students to Google Classroom, teachers’ webpages or other approved online platforms to access assignments. More than 90 percent of students have access to home WiFi, according to Villanti. For students without internet access, teachers will communicate with their families via email. For New York households with K-12 and college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription, Spectrum is providing free WiFi for 60 days as of Monday, March 16.

The county’s state of emergency declaration on Friday came before ACSD officials could distribute some assignments and resources for continued learning on March 16. After weekend preparation, the district announced Monday that elementary school principals will send plans for pick up of instructional material via SchoolMessenger, a communications app for schools and school districts. Middle and high school students can access work in the district’s Continuation of Learning folder. Depending on future county and state changes, spring break, other vacations days and conference days may be converted to instructional days.

PCSD officials met and announced today that work packets will be available for pick up as early as Wednesday, March 18. Schools will provide pick up information on their websites, Classroom Messenger and ClassDojo, a classroom communication app. Links to work packets will be available on the district website, school pages and district social media.

Besides the impact on school closures on students’ education, many PCSD students rely on schools for access to nutritious meals. Starting March 17, students’ families can pick up breakfast from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m at the following locations:

  • Hudson Garden Apartments, 120 Hudson Avenue
  • MLK Garden Apartments, 109 Delafield Street
  • Dr. Joseph Brady Apartments, 159 Washington Street
  • Dr. Joseph Brady Apartments, 11 Boulevard Knolls

Lunch is provided from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at these locations:

  • Poughkeepsie High School (parking lot), 70 Forbus Street
  • Eastman Tower, Montgomery Street
  • Rip Van Winkle Tower, Main Street and Rinaldi Boulevard
  • Harriet Tubman Apartments, Jefferson Street and Church Street

Poughkeepsie non-profit Community Matters 2 stepped in before PCSD’s announcement, providing brown bag breakfast meals on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. starting today. Families can pick up meals at their office at 100 Little Market Street. The organization is accepting donations. 

The district hopes to partner with community organizations to “identify opportunities to enhance students’ learning and positive youth development.” The district will post forthcoming details on its website. “Our students will continue to excel,” PCSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Eric Rosser said in his State of Emergency update.

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