OCDOH Quarantine Policy Update, Snow Days and So Much More

Good Afternoon,

I hope everyone is having a great start to the week.  As you are likely aware, COVID cases in the Finger Lakes region continue to spike and with it, HCS has experienced an uptick as well.  

In a recent communication from our school nurse to HCS staff, Marybeth Tonkery shared that the first question asked of her by the DOH during contact tracing is:  "Are they a good masker?"  Full disclosure: The response to this question is a critical attribute in the determination surrounding whether or not DOH will quarantine individuals exposed to COVID-19.  As we persist in weathering the COVID storm as a district, please assist us in keeping all of our students here in school by encouraging proper masking of your child in school.

OCDOH Update to Quarantining of Classes
This week, Ontario County leadership met with epidemiologists from the NY State Department of Health (Finger Lakes and Western Regions) to discuss the recent surge of cases. They discussed strategies to decrease the burden of quarantines on school children and their families while supporting safe, in person learning. Based on this discussion, beginning 11/16/2021, Ontario County Public Health will:
  1. No longer require general classroom contacts to quarantine if they have no symptoms. 
  2. Continue to require close contacts (within 6-feet for >15 minutes, unmasked; within 3 feet > 15 minutes, masked) to quarantine. Examples of situations in which close contacts may be quarantined:  Lunch  School bus  Indoor athletics
Additional notes from OCDOH: 
  • The changes in quarantine policy do not include daycares and after-school programming where there is unstructured time.
  • Ontario County Public Health has notified the NY State Contact Tracing Program of this change, but it may take a few days for them to update their internal procedures regarding calling or texting parents. Please be patient as OCDOH implements this new approach. 
  • With less quarantining, masking is essential. A proper fitting mask covers the nose and mouth snuggly without gaps. Please coach your child to keep their mask in place on the bus and throughout the entire school day. 
  • Vaccinated children who do not have symptoms will not be required to quarantine regardless of where they were exposed (home, bus, school, church, sports team, etc.). 
Save the Date! Town Halls Scheduled for Thursday, 11/18/2021 
  • The HCS administrative team will be available to provide updates from our respective areas and to respond to questions from families and students during voluntary, virtual Town Hall Meetings scheduled for Thursday, November 18. 
  • The virtual Elementary Town Hall is scheduled on 11/18 from 6:00 - 7:00.
    • Google Meet link shared via Parent Square.
  • The virtual Secondary Town Hall is scheduled on 11/18 from 7:00 - 8:00.  
    • Google Meet link shared via Parent Square. 
Snow Days
While the district has the capacity to deliver remote instruction, a snow day will be a SNOW DAY at the POUND for this school year. In the event you are unaware, SED has permitted districts to pilot a pivot to remote instruction on days which would historically have been designated a "snow day."  Many districts across the state, and perhaps even in neighboring locales, may opt to participate in this pilot.  At this juncture, HCS will "opt out" of this pilot and to repeat, a snow day will be a SNOW DAY at the POUND.

Planning Ahead: In the Event of a Pivot to Remote Instruction
HCS does not intend to pivot to remote instruction unless we are required to by (a) OCDOH proclamation due to high incidence of positive COVID cases or (b) inadequate staffing necessitates such.  According to our Public Health Director, full closure requiring a pivot to remote instruction would be highly unlikely unless a significant percentage (50%) of our population has been identified as positive for COVID.   

HCS engaged in conversations surrounding a pivot with internal stakeholders (teachers) at the onset of this school year. In GIST, in the event we must pivot to remote instruction due to one of the aforementioned reasons, the district would implement a 24 hour turnaround time for teachers to prepare for PreK-12 synchronous, remote instruction for all students.  Upon launch of remote instruction, students would follow their typical "in person" schedule.  In the 24 hour period of interim before launch of remote instruction, students would be provided asynchronous learning via Google Meet.  Both building principals have been working with faculty to ensure that all students have had adequate preparation for such a pivot.  

Secondary Principal Vacancy Process
As I shared with the HCS community last week, we will be putting together a leadership profile to support the search for our next Secondary Principal.  I hope that students, families, staff and community members will consider taking this brief survey between now and 11/24 to share the qualities/leadership attributes believed to be most important for the position and a best fit for HCS.    

In addition to coordination of internal interview committee groups, the district would like to secure 6 - 8 parent/guardians and 6 - 8 students to serve on stakeholder interview committee groups.
  • If you are an HCS secondary parent/guardian and interested in serving on a parent stakeholder interview committee, please send me a quick email (bridget.ashton@honeoye.org) at some point on or before November 24. To participate in this process, you will need to be able to attend a question-writing session (which will be scheduled for 6:00 pm on November 30) and commit to interviewing candidates for potentially a full day on December 6. More detailed information will be provided once the committees have been identified.
  • If you are an HCS secondary student and interested in serving on a student stakeholder interview committee, please send me a quick email (bridget.ashton@honeoye.org) at some point on or before November 24. To participate in this process, you will need to be able to attend a question-writing session (which will be scheduled for 2:10 pm on November 30) and commit to interviewing candidates for potentially a full day on December 6. Note: Student participants are responsible for any / all missed course material and class assignments for this date. More detailed information will be provided once the committees have been identified.
HCS Secondary Principal Search Anticipated Timeline:
  • November 10 - November 28: HCS Secondary Principal Application Period
  • November 10 - November 24: Identification of Internal & External Individuals for Stakeholder Interview Committees
  • November 10 - November 24: Development of Secondary Principal Leadership Profile
  • November 29: Vetting of Candidate Credentials
  • November 29 - November 30: Creation of Stakeholder Interview Questions/Performance Tasks
  • December 2: Cabinet Screening Interviews
    • Note: Cabinet members will provide feedback and confidence ratings to the superintendent.
  • December 6: Semi Finalist Interviews with Stakeholders
    • Note: Stakeholder committee groups will provide feedback and confidence ratings to the superintendent.
  • December 6 - 8: Reference Checks on Finalists
  • December 9: Finalist Interviews with Superintendent and BOE Introductions 
  • December 15: Board of Education Appointment of HCS Secondary Principal
  • On or About January 15: HCS Secondary Principal Start Date
Staffing
Staffing continues to be a challenge at the POUND in areas such as lunch monitors, facilities, and substitutes in all areas.  If you or someone you know might have some free time and be interested in joining the dynamic staff at HCS, even on a part time substitute basis, please visit (or have them visit) Employment Opportunities on the HCS district website.

On behalf of the Honeoye Central School District, thank you for your ongoing support and partnership in advocacy for all HCS students. There is no place like Honeoye...  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