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Art school converts to remote classroom

From left, Jessica Ackerson, Julia Csanko and Brittany Sternberg (who will be teaching with masks) gather in October in the space where their new art school ADK ArtRise is set to open in January. (Enterprise photo — Amy Scattergood)

SARANAC LAKE — The owners of a new art school are trying to help some families deal with remote schooling by converting their space into a distance learning classroom.

“The parents can drop their kids off here for the school day, and the kids can log in here for their classes,” said Jess Ackerson, one of three owners of ADK ArtRise.

ADK ArtRise is not expected to open its art classes to the public until January, but Ackerson said she and co-owners Julia Csanko and Brittany Sternberg made the decision to offer the space as a remote classroom quickly on Tuesday, Nov. 10. That’s when they found out that all Franklin County school districts — including Saranac Lake’s — would shift to full remote as cases of COVID-19 surge here and worldwide as another wave of the pandemic crests. They knew this would be hard on many working parents.

They’re moving all the furniture around, expanding their internet bandwidth and hoping to open for distance learning on Monday. Ackerson and Csanko will supervise the students and help them with their daily work.

There will be some limitations, and the first is capacity. ADK ArtRise has a sizable space — 1,900 square feet, formerly the home of Northeast Taekwondo and before that Nori’s Village Market in the heart of downtown — but social distancing guidelines limit the number of students it can take to 12.

Because of that cap, they are offering the service only to elementary schoolers and possibly sixth-graders. This is because middle and high schoolers were already doing remote learning three days a week and are more used to it, whereas younger students will probably need more supervision, Ackerson said.

They also will not be allowed to take students involved with the state Office of Child and Family Services, Ackerson said.

Masks will be required, just like in school.

This service will be open from 7:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. There were already no in-person classes Wednesday, so this service won’t be open then, either.

The service will be free of charge for six students, and for the other six slots, it will cost $20 a day. Ackerson said ADK ArtRise’s owners wanted the service to be completely free but can’t afford to do that on their own, so they reached out to the Adirondack Foundation, a regional philanthropic hub based in Lake Placid. Working through the Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation, Adirondack Foundation gave them a $5,000 Special Urgent Needs (SUN) Fund grant to help subsidize the service.

“Even that ($20), for some of these families, might be a crunch, but at least they’d be able to go to work,” Ackerson said.

For more information or to sign up, contact ADK ArtRise at 518-354-8089 or info@adkartrise.com.

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