5/1/2020: Cuomo Announces School Buildings Closed Thru Remainder of School Year

Good Afternoon,

It is May 1 and what a day it has been: Decision Day, DECISION DAY, School Principal’s Day and School Lunch Hero Day!  

I would like to begin with a huge shout out to all of our Class of 2020 seniors who should be recognized today and celebrated for their decisions moving forward, be those travelling on to paths of college, career, or the military.  Given that today also represents DECISION DAY (see below), it is the students in the Class of 2020 that weigh heavily on my mind this afternoon… I know I speak for many, whose hearts are also aching over the loss of senior year and ALL that is encompassed in the culmination of a PreK-12 academic experience for our students.  We want nothing more than to connect with and celebrate each and every member of the class of 2020, and yet for now we must take solace in the notion that keeping each of them safe is (and should be) our paramount concern. 

Kudos and many thanks! Please join me in expressing our gratitude to Addie Klaehn and Margie Wright for their passion and service to HCS!  Happy Principal’s Day!

Finally, to our “unsung heroes” in the food service department...Thank you , thank you, thank you for all that you do to support students and learning. Shout out to Sandy Gorall, Tracy Lortscher, Sheila Lowe, Karen Rock, and Colleen Woodruff! You were lunch heroes before COVID-19... and have risen to unparalleled heights during COVID-19.  Happy School Lunch Hero Day!  
 
DECISION DAY: Cuomo Closes School Through Remainder of School Year
Stating "we must protect our children," Cuomo announced in his press release this morning (5/1) that the extended closing of school buildings and distance learning will continue for the remainder of the school year.   Decisions surrounding the feasibility of offering summer school will be made by the end of May.  It is unclear at this juncture if there will be any prompting by NYS or SED to provide summer school in alternate or expanded capacity.  Governor Cuomo also shared today that no decision surrounding fall 2020 has been made, as "it is a long ways away."  NYS school districts are required to continue providing meals to children and access to childcare to healthcare workers.
 
Given extended closing through remainder of the school year, HCS will engage in three phases of planning:
Phase 1 -  Continuity of Learning and EoY
Phase 1 encompasses consideration and planning for the following:

  • Celebration of the Class of 2020: Highlights of individual students and Class of 2020 cohort
  • Commencement 
  • Social Emotional supports for students and adults
  • Student access to the building to collect personal materials from lockers and desks and to return textbooks and devices.
  • 4th Quarter Grading, EoY Grading
  • Other: Planning ahead for 2020-21 school year

Phase 2 -  Summer School and ESY Programming

  • Prior to any reopening, school districts are being directed to create reopening plans that take into account instruction, extracurricular activities, student safety, and transportation that follow protocols already put in place by the state - hand cleaning, sanitizing, masking, and social distancing.  School districts will be directed to monitor the spread of the virus within their schools, which may include temp reads.

Phase 3 - Launching the 2020-21 School Year

  • Prior to any reopening, school districts are being directed to create reopening plans that take into account instruction, extracurricular activities, student safety, and transportation that follow protocols already put in place by the state - hand cleaning, sanitizing, masking, and social distancing.  School districts will be directed to monitor the spread of the virus within their schools, which may include temp reads.  

Please Note: More information surrounding each phase of planning will be provided to faculty, staff, students and families as it becomes available.  Thank you in advance for your patience! 

New York State of Education Updates, Week Ending 5/1/2020

August REGENTS Cancelled

  • The New York State Education Department shared in a memorandum on 4/30 that the August 2020 administration of the NYS High School Regents Examination Program was cancelled in response to the extended statewide closures of schools and districts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This cancellation applies to all Regents Examinations that had been scheduled for the August 2020 Regents Examination period.   
  • SED announced the cancellation of the June 2020 Regents Exams on April 7.  At that time, SED advised, "Any student who enrolls in summer school to make up failed course credit in a course leading to a Regents Examination and is subsequently granted such credit, shall be exempt from the culminating Regents Examination."

Interim Commissioner Shares Read Aloud

  • SED has invited folks to join Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe for story time! Elementary students are encouraged to watch this video to hear the book What Do You Do With an Idea? written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom.
  • SED’s message, “Let's keep kids reading each day while they are at home.”

Honeoye Central School District ~ Continuity of Learning Plan 

  • All districts across the state are providing continuity of instruction throughout the extended closing due to COVID-19.  Initially, HCS approached this task from the lens of providing relevant, spiral review and skill development of standards and concepts previously taught.  Effective 4/15, we shifted to the delivery of universal, first instruction of new content spanning all courses and all grade levels.  As such, students and families experience two waves of instructional approach:
  • WAVE 1 - CONTINUITY of INSTRUCTION: Spiral Review and Skill Development of Previously Taught Concepts / Standards through April 14. NOTE: Spiral review and reinforcement of skill development will be a continued emphasis throughout the remainder of the extended closing.  
  • WAVE 2 - CONTINUITY of INSTRUCTION: Delivery of first instruction commencing on or around 4/15.
  • To frame our approach surrounding the HCS continuity of learning and distance learning plan, it is important to note that HCS has diligently strived to construct and execute a student centric model.  We want ALL of our students to be successful, PERIOD.  Factoring in SED guidance, it is important to HCS that students are held harmless for the unfortunate extended school closing due to COVID-19.  What this means is that while our students may likely see pass  / fail / incomplete grades on their report card this year, HCS wants to ensure that students have had the opportunity to access instruction and to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes for units of study completed.  Our Continuity of Instruction Articulation document was developed to provide students and families a clear and concise understanding about how distance learning would be implemented PreK-12. Our Distance Learning Rubric was developed to ensure that students and families had a clear and concise understanding about what measures would be utilized to determine a passing, failing or incomplete grade in the event of an extended closing through the remainder of the school year.  The district is currently working on articulation documents which outline anchor standards for grades K - 8 in ELA and Math and for all upper level core subjects. Students at risk of not meeting minimal proficiency levels will engage in remedial learning opportunities to achieve learning outcomes for units of study completed. Teachers and administration will work with individual students and families to develop personalized plans for remediation.
  • On-line resources have been shared with families to provide supplemental learning experiences. As possible, HCS is continuing with related services for our Students with Disabilities through distance learning instruction which includes extension of time for assignments, office hours for additional support(s) to students (reteach, provide clarification, scaffold, etc.), planning for assessment of student skill levels to provide compensatory services as needed. Related service providers  (OT/ PT/ Speech) have provided and continue to provide supplemental materials and resources to support families. 

Clarity Surrounding Expectations

  • To ensure clarity surrounding expectations during distance learning for instructional staff, students and families, HCS developed articulation documents which outline expectations for distance learning at both the Elementary and Secondary levels. Additionally, a Distance Learning Rubric was developed which factors in student engagement, participation, work production and achievement of learning outcomes for units of study taught. The rubric will be utilized to determine and report "passing" or "incomplete" student progress during the extended closing due to COVID-19. 

 
Communication with the HCS Community

  • Honeoye Central School District has engaged in ongoing, regular interfacing with HCS parents and families.  We have shared logistical information surrounding our Continuity of Instruction via hard copy mailing, email, ConnectEd robocalls, website and virtual Town Hall meetings. It is relevant to note that at each juncture we have shifted as a district in our COVID related emergency response -  from Phase 1 (Planning for continuity of operations - instruction, meals, and child care) to Phase II (Implementation of plans for continuity of operations - instruction, meals, and child care) to Phase III (Monitoring, adapting, and enhancing district plans for continuity of operations - instruction, meals and child care) - we have provided real time information to our families reflecting updates and / or clarifications to the HCS Continuity of Learning Plan.

Ensuring Student Participation in Distance Learning

  • Given that our Distance Learning Rubric includes a student engagement and participation component, teachers have been charged with the task of tracking student participation in any / all facets of their course work during the extended closing due to COVID-19. Additionally, at the onset of school closing due to COVID-19, teachers were tasked with tracking all points of contact (phone, email, office hours, other) with students and families. Teacher tracking of student engagement, participation and points of contact with families is driving Tier 2 (and perhaps Tier 3, as time continues) outreach by student support teams, counseling and mental health staff, building principals and district level administration.  Outreach efforts are/ will be tracked and reviewed weekly by building level teams to identify and administer next steps.

Technology Component and Internet Accessibility

  • Our Continuity of Instruction Plan currently includes the use of technology for delivery of first, universal instruction to students. All HCS students in grades 3 - 12 have been provided a 1:1 device for home use. All families of students in grades preK - 2 which indicated via survey that they did not have access to a device, have been provided a district device to access distance learning during the extended closing due to COVID-19. 
  • Given that we rolled out distance learning effective 4/15, we are still navigating questions specific to accessibility and connectivity of internet service. Teacher tracking of student engagement, participation and points of contact with families is driving Tier 2 (and perhaps Tier 3, as time continues) outreach by student support teams, counseling and mental health staff, building principals and district level administration.  Upon identification of access issues, teachers and administration plan to work with individual students and families to develop personalized learning plans to support students. 
  • Additionally, HCS provided information to families and teachers surrounding the following:
    • HCS has reasonable strength WIFI signal in upper and lower level parking lots. Social distancing norms applicable.
    • Empire Access and Spectrum offer free internet access to students who do not currently have internet access. Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of Spectrum or Empire, nor an advertisement to encourage purchase of any product or service.
    • Note: Prior to the extended closing due to COVID-19, HCS did not possess, and still does not have access to, "Hot Spots" for distribution.

Social Emotional Considerations
To address the social-emotional needs of students, families and staff during this crisis, HCS teachers, staff members and administration have employed the following strategies:

  • Virtual TIG (Trauma, Illness, Grief) Response sessions, facilitated by HCS Mental Health and Counseling staff
  • Development of additional TIG Response plans
  • Creation of Class of 2020 Task Force 
  • Teacher tracking of student engagement, participation and points of contact with families is driving outreach by student support teams, counseling and mental health staff, building principals and district level administration.
  • Social Media and email "themed" initiatives - videos, creative Padlets, shout outs, etc.
  • Athletic department team initiatives
  • Open Office Hours - an opportunity to connect, ask questions, share ideas

“It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.”  — Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I recently stumbled upon a quote, unknown author, who proffered, “We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm.”  Negotiating COVID-19 is akin to the navigation of a perfect storm (which by definition is a “particularly bad or critical state of affairs, arising from a number of negative and unpredictable factors”). The COVID-19 experience is a “critical state of affairs,” and it certainly has been the contributing factor for upheaval and volatility in so many arenas of our lives.  As a district, state, and nation, we collectively weather the same storm!

With uncertainty looming, one truth has been omnipresent.  The very best in people is tangible and ever evident.  Educators have risen to meet unprecedented challenges, shifting from onsite instructional delivery to distance learning overnight. And that is not all. In every area of HCS operation, there are countless examples of heroic measures!  I am confident that the last seven weeks have been exhausting for every member of our learning community.  I am also confident that “We got this,” and we will reach the other side of COVID-19.  Hold on to hope.  

Warmest regards to you and yours,
E. Bridget Ashton

Elizabeth Bridget Ashton
Superintendent, Honeoye Central School District
8528 Main Street
Honeoye, New York 14471
Bridget.Ashton@honeoye.org
On Twitter: @EBridgetAshton