2020 HCS Opening of School Updates

Dear Honeoye Central School District Community:
 
I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful blue skies and sun as we enter the month of September.  HCS welcomed back faculty and staff this week for two Superintendent Conference Days. It was wonderful to have the HCS learning community back on campus!

It has been a summer like no other… The contextualization of COVID-19 on our lives, public education and the world has been fairly all consuming since we last were together as a community.  A few months have now passed, and I cannot imagine a more grave or urgent context for launching a new school year.  As such, planning and preparation for the HCS Reopening in September has been at the forefront of thinking and action all of July and August.  I am reaching out today to share important updates as we prepare to welcome students back to school on Wednesday, September 9. 
 
Building Level Information about the HCS 2020-21 Opening of Schools
Many thanks to our Elementary School Principal, Margie Wright, and our Secondary Principal, Addie Klaehn, for their development of building level protocols which address the provisions of the HCS Reopening Plan. If you have not yet had the opportunity to review these documents, I would encourage you to do so, as there is more specific information pertaining to how each building will approach the required reopening guidelines. These documents are available on the HCS website or may be accessed below:

The First Few Days

It is important to note that the first days of school for students will look differently than in the past. Instructional staff will be striving to teach and reinforce safe practices specific to the HCS Reopening Plan (social distancing, masking, mask breaks, restroom protocols, management of materials, and the list goes on and on). Teachers will incorporate Google Classroom and technology integration at the onset of the school year to ensure that teachers and learners are prepared for any COVID-19 related scenario. In addition, teachers will purposely focus on the social emotional well being of our students upon return. The COVID-19 experience has had an impact on all members of our learning community and we want to ensure that we attend to each and every “whole” child.  These foci- safety practices and protocols, technology integration and social emotional well being -  are paramount and serve as the necessary scaffold to launching rich, academic programing for our HCS students. 
 
Masking and “Teacher Directed” Masking Breaks
At Honeoye Central School District, all students, faculty, and staff must wear a mask/face covering at all times, most notably:

  • Whenever they are within 6 feet of someone: 
  • Upon entry and exit to campus;
  • Upon entry and exit to cafeteria;
  • During all transitions which require travel to alternate areas on campus;
  • In hallways;
  • In restrooms; 
  • In other congregate settings, including buses
  • In locker rooms; and
  • In office spaces.

Please Note: At Honeoye Central School District, masking breaks will be incorporated for students during the instructional day, as practicable, when students are located in their classroom AND can be positioned six feet away from any other individual. Mask breaks will be “teacher directed,” which means that teachers will determine when it is appropriate and safe for students to remove their masks for a determined period of time. There may be circumstances when masking breaks are not offered in classrooms due to identified high risk of complications associated with COVID-19 for individuals in that classroom. We appreciate your support and respect for the safety and wellness of our incredible students and staff members. 
 
Parent Square - Daily Health Screening Tool
School districts are required to implement mandatory health screenings, including temperature checks, of students, faculty, staff, and, where applicable, contractors, vendors, and visitors to identify any individuals who may have COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Specifically, all individuals must have their temperature checked each day. If an individual presents a temperature of greater than 100.0°F, the individual must be denied entry into the facility or sent directly to a dedicated area prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home. School districts must also use a daily screening questionnaire for faculty and staff reporting to school; and periodically use a questionnaire for students, particularly younger students, who may require the assistance of their parent/legal guardian to answer. 
 
As outlined in our reopening plan, students and staff will be required to complete a brief COVID-19 health screening (temperatures daily, self assessment questions biweekly for students). Recently I shared that we intend to utilize the digital platform Parent Square for collection of screening information from families and staff members.   Nicki Klingensmith, our Director of Instructional Technology, has been diligently working with Parent Square over the last several weeks to ensure that this digital solution is operational for us.  
 
It is anticipated that we will launch Parent Square in the next few days.  Please be on the lookout for further communication regarding set up on your personal devices. Once Parent Square is launched, we urge you to set up your account promptly as this platform will also be used for district communication. Regrets for the last minute implementation, but vendors such as Parent Square have been exceedingly busy this summer (as you might imagine due to COVID-19).
 
Understanding that back to school is a busy time for families, we will be positing the health screening questionnaire to the website and also including it in this email for use in the meantime. Any families who are not yet able to complete the form electronically should plan on sending in a completed paper copy to school with their student(s). 
 
Access to Thermometers
In the event that you do not have a thermometer and have had difficulty obtaining one, please reach out to Marybeth Tonkery at mtonkery@honeoye.org, as she may be able to access a thermometer for you through public health.
 
Update from DOH: Return to School After COVID-19 Symptoms
Honeoye Central School District will follow CDC guidance and Ontario County Health guidance for allowing a student or staff member to return to school after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.  At this juncture, the Department of Health is requiring that students who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 get tested and receive a negative COVID-19 test before returning to in-person learning.   

School leaders have raised this as a significant concern for our districts, given the length of time that individuals may have to wait to receive test results. Additionally, many COVID-19 symptoms overlap with ordinary and annual illnesses, so this requirement will send students home for longer than necessary and potentially lead to prolonged staff absences which may force districts to shift to a remote model of learning.
 
It is our understanding that conversations are occurring now around this topic within NYSDOH. We will update the community as soon as we are able to secure any additional information on this update. Please contact our school nurse, Marybeth Tonkery at mtonkery@honeoye.org if you have questions about this or if your child exhibits symptoms of COVID-19.
 
Athletics
Governor Cuomo announced in late August that "low" and "moderate risk" sports - soccer, swimming, field hockey, cross country, golf and tennis - will be permitted to resume play and practice September 21.  Schools will not be permitted to travel outside their region or a neighboring region to play or practice until Oct. 19. Sports deemed "high risk” can resume non-competitive, non-contact practice Sept. 21, but won't be allowed to return to game play until the Governor determines otherwise. 
 
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) COVID-19 Task Force met on Monday, August 31st and is developing a comprehensive document with guidance for school districts to utilize as they prepare for the return of interscholastic athletics this fall. The anticipated release date of this document was today.  Our Athletic Director, Lorri Campbell, hopes to be able to communicate with families and students about the HCS plan for resuming athletics, once we have a better understanding of how the guidance will impact sports programs in our region.
 
Capital Project Updates from Mike Bastian
Phase II of Honeoye Central’s Capital Project is drawing to a close just in time for the start of the 20-21 academic year.  Our two-year, two-phase project has included a combination of highly visible and also nearly invisible projects, all linked to student safety, operational efficiencies, and state or local codes and mandates.  Highly visible projects completed this summer include all new sidewalks on the Main Street side of the building, a re-engineered and repaved bus loop out front, and a completely upgraded elementary/athletics back parking lot.  Additionally, a fresh, bright paint job and all new bleachers will really stand out in the secondary gym.  Less obvious yet equally important project elements include a pair of new bus lifts at the transportation department, the installation of a digital phone system throughout the main campus building, and extensive repairs to a structural support beam in the school basement.  The district appreciates everyone’s flexibility and patience throughout these projects and looks forward to having school community members enjoy these upgrades for years to come!
 
Instructional Technology Webpage
HCS has updated its Instructional Technology webpage, many thanks to our new Director of Instructional Technology.  Families may find information about the following:

  • Device Pick-up 
  • Student Tech Help Access
  • Student Responsibility and Respectful Use Form (Acceptable Use Agreement)
  • Internet Connectivity Survey
  • Ed Law 121, Part 2D Data Security and Privacy Information
  • Note: This is still a work in progress but will be updated and completed by October. 

Despite the uncertainty and unsettled feeling while in the eye of the COVID-19 storm, I could not be more grateful or proud to weather the storm as a Bulldog.  The very best in people is tangible and ever evident.  HCS faculty and staff have risen to meet unprecedented challenges. And that is not all. We thank the the HCS community for your unwavering support of our district. #bulldogpride

As always, if you have any questions about the information in this letter, or otherwise, please feel free to reach out to me.   I sincerely hope that you enjoy a relaxing and rewarding Labor Day weekend.

Warmest Regards,
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