Schools will be closed until at least April 14

Gwen Chamberlain

New York will keep all schools closed through at least April 14 as the state continues to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced March 27.

But Dundee Central School Superintendent Kelly Houck told about 175 people during a Facebook live broadcast Monday night there’s a good chance schools will remain closed longer, because the cases in New York aren’t expected to peak for another two weeks. However, her strongest message for followers was, “I strongly believe we will be back together before this school year is over.”

Teachers in Penn Yan and Dundee are preparing instructional material packets to be delivered to homes next week, according to Houck and Penn Yan Superintendent Howard Dennis.

Houck also said she expects to have answers about Regents exams for her next Facebook Live event on April 6 at 6:30 p.m. She says state officials are reviewing all the issues, including the final decision on re-opening schools. If the Regents exams are canceled, another way to assess a student’s mastery of a subject will be required. 

The extended closure and federal social distancing declaration also means there’s been a change in the school board elections and budget vote, typically planned for mid-May. A new date will be set for sometime after June 1, Houck said.

She reassured seniors that a graduation ceremony will be held, and they will graduate, “as long as you have passed your courses and have the credits. It’s a worldwide pandemic. It’s nothing you will be punished for.”

Although the Dundee School District embraces the use of social media to stay in touch with the community, Houck is a strong voice for the need to close the “digital divide” in New York State education. She says the state education department officials are aware that many students lack access to internet service in their homes, and are therefore at a disadvantage for distance learning.

To see Houck’s full Facebook Live session, visit Dundee Central School’s Facebook page.

During his daily briefing March 27, Cuomo said keeping the schools closed is the prudent decision as the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase in New York.

Previously, Cuomo had shuttered schools until April 1.

Now, that closure will be extended through at least April 14, at which time the state will reassess, he said.

“I believe the schools should remain closed,” Cuomo said Friday at the Javits Center in Manhattan. “I don’t do this joyfully, but I think if you look at where we are and the number of cases increasing, it only makes sense.”