The Contextualization of COVID

The Contextualization of COVID-19 on Public Education and

Reopening in the Fall 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted aspects of life in our community, region, state, nation,  and the world.  The effect of COVID-19 on education in New York State has been extreme. On March 16, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order closing schools for two weeks due to the COVID-19 crisis.  The March 16 Executive Order was followed by subsequent Executive Orders, which ultimately closed schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. Execution of an extended closing resulted in an instructional paradigm shift with little notice or opportunity to consider and plan with the end in mind. Educators flexed from delivery of 100% in-person instructional models to 100% remote, distance learning models. While we hoped for a reprieve and a more traditional return to school in the fall, COVID-19 continues to be a public health concern.  It will not be a traditional launch of the school year when September 2020 rolls around.


Governor Cuomo indicated that guidance would be provided to school districts specific to school reopening. The Board of Regents convened on 7/13 to review information and subsequent recommendations from the Reopening Task Force, which held meetings across the state throughout the month of June. On July 13, the New York State Department of Health released an Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. This guidance was subsequently followed by the New York State Education Department’s Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools Reopening Guidance on July 16.  These guidance documents provide the framework by which districts across New York State must develop their reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year.  All schools were required to submit reopening plans which incorporate provisions in the NYS Reopening Guidance to the SED by July 31. Ultimately, on August 7, the Governor provided a "green light" for schools to reopen.

The Reopening Plan for Honeoye Central School District, Fall 2020

Factoring in NYSED and NYSDOH guidance, feedback obtained from the Family Voice Survey (July), feedback from the Student Voice Survey (June), individual communications with community members, counsel from the district’s legal team, input from our Medical Director and Ontario County Health, and the dynamic dialogues during HCS Reopening Committee meetings, the recommendation moving forward for reopening this fall includes a mixed hybrid model of return for students:

  • At the elementary level, all PreK-5 students will engage in 100% in person learning within small, static cohorts. Staffing and spacing reconfigurations permit smaller class sizes and satisfy social distancing requirements.
  • At the secondary level, students in grades 6-12 will engage in 50% in person learning and 50% remote learning. Students will report to campus for in person learning on defined days. This approach will limit the number of students in a classroom, on buses, and in the hallways at one time. Secondary Students will be assigned into one of two cohorts.
    • Cohort 1 will attend school on Monday, Wednesday and every other Friday (Friday 1).
    • Cohort 2 will attend school on Tuesday, Thursday and every other Friday (Friday 2).
    • Parents also have the OPTION of choosing to have their Pre-K-12 child(ren) participate remotely 100% of the time. This option requires student participation in live, synchronous instruction via Google Meet with their same age/grade level peers throughout the school day.


Guiding Principles

Across New York State and as shared by the SED and Board of Regents, the development of our Reopening Plan is guided by and grounded in the following principles: 

  1. Safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff; 
  2. Providing the opportunity for all students to access education in the fall;
  3. Monitoring schools, students, and staff.  Modifying schedules to appropriately contain COVID-19 spread; 
  4. Emphasizing equity, access, and support to the students and communities that are emerging from this historic disruption; 
  5. Fostering strong two-way communication with partners, such as families, educators, and staff;
  6. Factoring the challenges to the physical safety, social emotional well-being, and the mental health needs of our students caused by school closure into decision making; and
  7. Considering and supporting  diversity in our schools and school districts as we provide education is essential.

It is important to note that throughout the development of the Honeoye Central School District Reopening Plan, the paramount concern at the forefront of thinking and discussion remained steadfastly the health and wellbeing of students, faculty and staff  in our schools.  Concurrently, Honeoye Central School District has also maintained fidelity to our purpose and mission of the organization - student achievement and outcomes for ALL STUDENTS.  The Honeoye Central School District commitment:

We Provide a sense of unity, heartfelt pride and a vivid spirit in our community.  

We Inspire our students to achieve individual success through a rigorous and challenging academic environment.  

We Enrich minds by including the latest technology and engage students in creative problem solving.  

We Collaborate with our community members to meet the mental, social, physical, academic, creative and ethical needs of the students.


When the 2020-2021 school year begins, on-campus school will look much different than previous years due to COVID-19 and the health and safety measures that continue to evolve.  The Honeoye Central School District Reopening Plan defines our strategic approach for the reopening of our Elementary and Secondary schools and aligns with the regulations developed in collaboration with NYSDOH and the NYS Education Department. It is entirely feasible that we may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning throughout the year due to recommendations and guidance from the Department of Health and/or Executive Order of the Governor.  We will be prepared to do so.


As with every plan being developed throughout New York State, the HCS Reopening Plan is fluid and will change as necessary based on guidance from the state, CDC, and NYSED and in consideration of our families and our staff. We strongly believe the services described throughout this plan are in the best interests of our students, families, staff, and community.


Note:  The Superintendent of Schools will serve as the Honeoye Central School District’s COVID-19 Coordinator and as central contact for the district and all its stakeholders. 


On behalf of the Honeoye Central School District, many thanks to our community for the ongoing support and partnership in advocacy for all HCS students.

Warm regards,

E. Bridget Ashton


Elizabeth Bridget Ashton

Superintendent, Honeoye Central School District

8528 Main Street

Honeoye, New York 14471

On Twitter: @EBridgetAshton