COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
All schools in the General Brown Central School District are closed until April 17 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for our students, staff and community. All extracurricular events and activities, field trips and athletic contests and practices also are canceled.
District officials are currently focusing on four main priorities:
- Communicating with students and families,
- Providing meals to children,
- Supporting instruction and
- Cleaning and disinfecting school buildings.
Below are some questions and answers about what this emergency closure means for our students and their families. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and this page will be updated as more information becomes available.
Will students still take Advanced Placement exams?
Yes. The College Board, which administers Advanced Placement (AP) exams nationwide, has announced that it will conduct online exams for the 2019-20 school year. The exam content will only cover material taught through early March.
This will ensure that students currently enrolled in an AP course and who pass the course will still receive college credit.
The AP tests will be administered as 45-minute online free-response exams at home. Students will be able to take the streamlined exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet or smartphone, according to The College Board. Taking a photo of handwritten work will also be an option.
Beginning Wednesday, March 25, students and teachers can attend free, live AP review courses, delivered by AP teachers from across the country. These mobile-friendly classes are:
- Designed to be used alongside work that may be given by schools.
- Will be recorded and available on-demand so teachers and students can access them any time.
- Will focus on reviewing the skills and concepts from the first 75% of the course.
Students in need of mobile tools or connectivity can contact The College Board.
Can I still pick up my child’s instructional materials packet?
While all district buildings, including school offices, are officially closed, if parents still need to pick up instructional packets, they can call or email their child’s building principal to make arrangements to get those materials if they are unable to retrieve them from the website.
- Dexter Elementary School (grades PK-2): Dave Ramie, DRamie@gblions.org, 315-779-2300, option 3
- Brownville-Glen Park (grades 3-6): Joseph O’Donnell, firstname.lastname@example.org, 315-779-2300, option 2
- General Brown Junior-Senior High School (grades 7-12): Nicole Donaldson, NDonaldson@gblions.org, 315-779-2300, option 1
Will my children still have to take the state math and English language arts exams this year?
Not for the 2019-20 school year. The New York State Board of Regents and state Education Department announced Friday, March 20, that the 2020 elementary- and intermediate-level state assessments have been suspended for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
“It is most important that during the time of closure, schools are able to continue to focus their efforts toward local school and community needs, as they have been doing, and not be concerned about state assessments. NYSED has applied for federal waivers for testing, accountability and reporting requirements,” according to a statement from Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and Interim State Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe.
This suspension applies to the following New York state testing programs:
- New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts Test;
- New York State Grades 3-8 Mathematics Test;
- New York State Grade 4 Elementary-Level Science Test;
- New York State Grade 8 Intermediate-Level Science Test;
- New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) in Grades K-12; and
- New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) for students with severe cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8 and high school.
The state has yet to give guidance on end-of-June Regents exams.
How do I register my child for school or change our contact information during the closure?
Registration will continue during the school closure. Families may download the registration forms from the district website or call 315-779-2300, option 9 then option 3, to request copies be mailed.
Parents and guardians can either scan the completed documents, or take an electronic image of them, and send it to Donna Keefer at email@example.com. Hard copies may be delivered to the district office from 9 a.m. to noon. Parents and guardians can either scan the completed documents, or take an electronic image of them, and send it to Donna Keefer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hard copies may be delivered to the district office from 9 a.m. to noon. Parents may leave registration materials in a drop box located in between the exterior door and the interior entrance to the district office.
To update contact information, such as an address, call the main office of your child’s school.
How will the district communicate with me during the closure?
The district will continue to update the community via the district website with any new information. Any time-sensitive, critical information will be shared via the district’s SchoolMessenger notification system, which sends email and phone call notifications, depending upon how parents subscribed to the system.
School officials are currently verifying whether each GB family has an email address on file with the district so that we can communicate via email as much as possible. School officials will directly call families without access to email or technology.
At this time, we plan to reach out to families several times a week to check in with our students. We want them to know that we are thinking of them. However, we need to be mindful that our plans of frequent, personal communication may change as this crisis situation evolves.
Will the district be providing meals for students while the schools are closed?
As of March 18, the district will be offering for all children 18 and under—regardless if they attend the GB school district—free grab-and-go-breakfast and lunch meals Monday through Friday at several locations within the district’s boundaries. Families may pick up meals at the following locations and times:
- General Brown Junior-Senior High School, 17643 Cemetery Rd., Dexter (9-11:30 a.m.)
- North Pole Fire Station, 22350 U.S. Route 11, Watertown (10:30-11:30 a.m.)
- Pillar Point Fire Hall, 11430 Middle Rd., Dexter (10:30-11:30 a.m.)
- Glen Park Village Fire Department, 630 Main St., Watertown (10:30-11:30 a.m.)
Anyone picking up meals at a location other than the high school should notify the district’s food service director (315-779-2300, option 7, option 1) so that the correct number of meals are prepared, packaged and delivered to the other locations. There is no need to call ahead for meals picked up at the junior-senior high school.
Please call that same number if you have barriers that prevent you from picking up your meals. We do not want any family to go without food.
Can my family still visit the school building and playground?
Building access is limited during the closure: Visitors must call ahead to communicate the purpose of their visit.
The following school facilities are closed to the general public and staff: gyms, weight rooms, outdoor athletic facilities and playgrounds.
How will instruction be provided during the closure?
Our teachers have prepared instructional packets and lists of online resources so our students can maintain their educational skills while our school buildings are closed. Teachers will be using a variety of methods, such as email, various apps or google classroom, to directly reach students’ families to share next steps.
Instructional materials are available on the district website.
- For grades PK-7, materials will be organized by building and grade level.
- For grades 8-12, materials will be organized by content area.
If families do not have access to a printer or technology at home, instructional packets will be available in each school building’s lobby for pickup 1-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, and 9-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 18. Families of Junior-Senior High School students should bring their child’s schedule.
If you are unable to pick-up materials at any of the buildings during the scheduled times, please call your child’s school building to make other arrangements.
Will student support services continue?
Yes. We will continue to hold CSE meetings at their currently scheduled times. We encourage parents to join us by phone or video-conference. We will provide families resources for social and emotional support for their children. Please call the director of student support services at 315-779-2300, option 4, with any questions or concerns.
How can I retrieve my child’s medication or personal belongings?
Please call the school nurse at your child’s school to retrieve any medications.
If a parent needs to come to school to pick up a student’s belongings, contact the building principal to arrange a time to do so. Anyone who is sick is asked to refrain from entering the school building.
Will this closure affect summer vacation?
These are unprecedented times. At this time, we do not believe summer vacation will be impacted. School officials are working with the New York State Education Department on this matter.
Are events being rescheduled?
District and school officials are working on plans to reschedule some events and programs that were canceled due to the school closure or the need to financially commit now to a trip scheduled later in the year. It may not be able to reschedule all events or trips. More information about these events will be shared when it is available.
How are interscholastic athletics affected by the emergency closure?
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association and athletics officials are working to determine how the school closures will impact the spring sports schedules. At this time, the start of the spring athletic season will be delayed. More information will be shared with students and parents when it is available.
Will state tests still be administered?
The New York State Education Department continues to work with the governor’s office, the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Education to provide guidance to our schools around issues, such as instructional time and test scheduling.
Where in the community can I go for help?
Mental Health Emergencies
- Jefferson County Crisis Hotline: 315-782-2327
- Children’s Home Community School Liaison Program: 315-405-7444
For immediate concerns, ALWAYS call 911.
- Dexter United Methodist Church: 315-639-3022
- Barb Compeau: 315-788-5238
- Barbara Tyler: 315-271-5844
- Community Action Planning: 315-782-4900
- Watertown Urban Mission: 315-782-7110
- The Salvation Army: 315-782-4470
- The Airport Christian Church: 315-639-6760
What should I tell my children about COVID-19?
There are a variety of resources online for talking to children about this topic, including:
- National Association of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource
- Talking With Children: Tips For Caregivers, Parents and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks