Steuben County officials have directed schools in Steuben County to dismiss students beginning March 18 through April 12.

BATH — Steuben County has declared a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19 effective 12 a.m. Wednesday, March 18.


Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler and Public Health Director Darlene Smith have met with school superintendents to develop a unified plan for an extended dismissal of students. Governor Cuomo, through his executive order of March 13, placed authority for school dismissal at the local level, and these actions are taken as a precaution to be standardized across the county.


Steuben County officials have directed schools in Steuben County to dismiss students beginning March 18 through April 12.


Schools in Steuben County will be utilizing Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 to prepare staff and students for this extended dismissal.


Hornell response


The Hornell City School District announced there will be no school for students on Monday, allowing a conference day for faculty and support staff.


"We will use this opportunity to plan and prepare resources that will allow your child to continue learning during the school closure," said superintendent Jeremy Palotti. "Resources that are available will be a combination of print and online resources. We are working hard to make everything easy and accessible to you."


Students will follow the regular school schedule on Tuesday. Teachers will provide students with resources to use during the closure. Students also are encouraged to bring home any personal belongings they have at school. This will be the last day of school until Monday, April 13.


BOCES CTE programs will not be operating on Tuesday. Students in grades 7-12 will be asked to bring home the Chromebooks that were assigned to them at the beginning of the year. Parents interested in obtaining a Chromebook for students in grades K-6 should contact their teacher.


The district will continue to provide breakfast and lunch to students during the closure at Hornell High School, Bryant Elementary School, North Hornell School, Intermediate School, and the Columbian School. Breakfast and lunch for children up to age 18 will be available for pickup from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.


The district will deliver to children unable to pickup meals. Contact Tracy McCarthy at 324-1302 ext. 1570 to arrange meals to be delivered.


"This is an unprecedented situation for all of us," Palotti said. "We ask for your patience as we attempt to navigate it and determine the best way to keep our students, staff and community safe."


Similar plan at other districts


The plan at other school districts in Steuben County mirrored Hornell’s. Extracurricular activities like spring sports, Academic All-Stars, concerts, field trips and more were postponed.


Canisteo-Greenwood noted it is working on a plan to continue offering meals to students. Wayland-Cohocton said it will deliver breakfast and lunch meals to families participating in the free and reduced lunch program on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Avoca also said it plans to continue food service, expecting to distribute meals at multiple locations throughout the district. Those sites will be named later.


"As we continue monitoring, please practice everyday health habits as one of our lines of defense," said C-G superintendent Tom Crook. "Regularly wash hands for at least 20 seconds, don’t touch your face with unwashed hands where viruses can enter through the nose, mouth and eyes. Disinfect touch surfaces often. STAY HOME when sick and avoid others who are sick."


County monitoring situation


In the interim, Steuben County officials are continuing to monitor and respond to all COVID-19 concerns and remain in close communication with school districts.


"Continuing our collective efforts of ‘social-distancing’, we have directed an extended dismissal of schools in Steuben County," said Smith. "School dismissal is an effective public health measure to prevent and slow the transmission of COVID-19."


County officials stress that these measures are precautionary in nature and there remains zero positive cases in the county.


"We urge the citizens to rely upon facts provided by health officials and not to default to undue fear," said Wheeler. "This declaration follows suit of many counties in New York and states across the nation, which is meant to support social-distancing efforts. While our daily routines may change in the short-term, we will respond in a calm, unified manner as a community."