First Day of School and Additional NYSDOH Guidance Update

Good Afternoon,

On behalf of the Honeoye Central School District, many thanks to everyone who contributed to an amazing first day of school.  It was truly wonderful to welcome ALL of our BULLDOGS back to the POUND today...There simply is no place like Honeoye to engage in teaching and learning!

NYSDOH Releases Additional Guidance for Schools on 9/2
As you may have heard about or read in the news, the New York State Department of Health released an Interim NYSDOH Guidance for Classroom Instruction in P-12 Schools During the 2021-22 Academic Year last week. This guidance included information specific to the universal masking regulation AND the inclusion of COVID-19 testing in schools.

The NYSDOH Commissioner's Determination specific to testing requires that schools incorporate both diagnostic and screening testing into their protocols for reopening as follows:
  • Issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.62 ~ Screening Testing: 
    • Requires unvaccinated teachers and staff working in a P-12 school setting to get tested once per week when a school is operating in a geographic area identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has having low, moderate, substantial or high transmission rates (basically at all times).  
      • Note: COVID screenings or proof of vaccination is mandatory for all teachers and staff.
    • P-12 schools are required to offer screening testing to students once per week, with appropriate parent and guardian consent for minors, when such schools are operating in geographic areas identified by the CDC as have moderate, substantial, or high transmission rates (basically at all times).  
      • Note: COVID screenings are not mandatory for students.  The ability of the district to offer such screening for students IS required.
  • Issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.62 ~ Diagnostic Testing: 
    • Requires that schools have the capacity to provide diagnostic testing for students, teachers, and staff, regardless of vaccination status and community level of transmission when such individuals are either (1) symptomatic; or (2) asymptomatic with an exposure to someone with COVID-19.  
      • Note: Diagnostic testing is not mandatory for individuals. The ability of the district to offer the diagnostic testing IS required.
In response the Commissioner's Determination specific to COVID testing in the school setting, our County Administrator and OC Director of Public Health scheduled time to meet with superintendents from across our county this afternoon. While preliminary in nature and subject to revision, our tentative provisions for COVID testing at HCS include the following:
  • Ontario County Support:
    • HCS will provide screening and diagnostic testing onsite under the Ontario County Limited Service Laboratory license. As such, Ontario County will provide training for any/ all HCS staff who might administer COVID testing.
    • Ontario County will provide screening and diagnostic testing materials to HCS via grant funding awarded the county.
    • Ontario County will provide some additional nurse support to HCS via grant funding awarded the county.
  • Screening Testing: 
    • Ontario County will provide the necessary resources and training to conduct "pooled testing" onsite at HCS. Individual "positive" results will be communicated to the district and NYSDOH (as required) within 24 - 48 hours.  The process for administration of "pooled testing" is noninvasive and includes obtaining either a saliva sample or cheek swab.
  • Diagnostic Testing: 
    • Ontario County will provide an Abbott testing machine, necessary materials and training to conduct diagnostic testing onsite at HCS.  Individual results are obtained on the spot within approximately 15 minutes. The process for administration of the diagnostic testing requires a shallow nasal cavity swab performed by the school nurse. 
      • Note: Diagnostic testing may be used for students, teachers and staff members, regardless of vaccination status when an individual is symptomatic or asymptomatic with an exposure to someone with COVID-19. Ultimately, diagnostic testing onsite has the potential to contribute to lesser incidence of quarantine when test results are obtained and negative for COVID. 
We anticipate that we will have the ability to implement screening and diagnostic testing at HCS in the upcoming week(s). In the meantime, our district will initiate the following action steps:
  1. Begin to acquire proof of vaccination for teachers and staff, as required, in preparation for mandatory weekly testing of all school personnel.
  2. Develop and share a parental consent form with families who would like the option of COVID screening or diagnostic testing, in preparation for the required offering of screening testing to students once per week and diagnostic testing.  
On behalf of the Honeoye Central School District, thank you for your patience and for the ongoing support and partnership in advocacy for all HCS students. IT TRULY WAS A GREAT FIRST DAY!  As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns about the information included in this communication, or otherwise.

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