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covid-19

June 2, 2020 - 4:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, news, coronavirus, notify.

Press release:

  • As of 2 p.m.
    • Genesee County received one new positive case of COVID-19, for a total of 190 positive cases.
      • The new positive individual resides in Byron.
      • The person is in their 50s.
      • The new positive case was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
      • Two of the previous positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Zero of the total active positive cases are hospitalized.
      • We are sorry to report the death of one of our county residents. The individual was hospitalized and over the age of 65 years of age. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of this individual during this very challenging time.
    • Orleans County received two new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 236 positive cases.
      • One of the new positive individuals resides in Ridgeway and one of the new positive individuals lives at Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
      • Of the new positive case one of the individuals is in their 50s, and one of the individuals is in their 70s.
      • The new positive community case was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
      • Two of the previous positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Eighteen of the total active positive cases are hospitalized. Please note those in the hospital may be from the community or a state-regulated facility. We do not separate them out to protect their privacy.
      • We are sorry to report the death of one of our county residents. The individual was a resident of The Villages of Orleans Health & Rehabilitation. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of this individual during this very challenging time.

Click here to view the Genesee and Orleans counties' online map of confirmed cases.

June 2, 2020 - 4:01pm

Moved to the forefront by COVID-19, telehealth is the wave of the future for Genesee County Mental Health & Community Services, the agency’s director said on Monday.

Speaking at the County Legislature’s Human Services Committee Zoom videoconferencing meeting, Lynda Battaglia said her employees “love the fact that we can offer telehealth” as she presented a departmental review.

Legislators commended Battaglia, who was hired about eight months ago, for turning around a department that had been in disarray.

“Lynda came in at a very difficult time and has done a wonderful job,” Gordon Dibble said. “I know I speak on behalf of the board (when I say) that she’s done a great job under very difficult circumstances.”

Battaglia acknowledged that the agency has faced some turmoil over the past year, but pointed out that the “level of service that has been provided to the clients never wavered. (That) really speaks to the quality of professionals that we have in the agency.”

She was hired after her predecessor, Ellery Reaves, departed and was replaced on an interim basis by Mark O’Brien, the Orleans County Mental Health director (since retired).

Before taking the Genesee County position, Battaglia served as the forensic unit chief at Attica Correctional Facility and as assisted outpatient coordinator for New York’s Western Region.

In her PowerPoint presentation, Battaglia outlined a serious of mistakes and oversights that beset the department, calling the last year “a roller coaster for GC Mental Health.”

She was quick to mention that services have continued without interruption, even in the face of the coronavirus, and has set the department on a progressive course that includes telehealth, implementation of enhanced safety measures and cross-training of billing clerks.

“Agencies are always going to have a couple outliers that question things, but for the most part the group of people at Mental Health wants to progress with changes, they’re excited for the changes (and) they love the fact that we can offer tele-health,” she stated. “We have some big plans moving forward.”

Battaglia outlined that telehealth was “the only potential solution” after the agency lost its onsite psychiatrist, leaving hundreds of clients needing a provider and increasing the wait time to see a doctor to nearly a year.

In its broadest definition, telehealth allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions.

On March 5, the state Office of Mental Health approved the county’s application to use telehealth for psychiatric services. As a result, the wait time has been reduced significantly, she said, and the department has been able to add to its client base by providing another method of treatment.

Battaglia said that the OMH office is approving expanded telehealth services for all clinical staff and mentioned that Genesee County is applying for grants to sustain these services.

On the subject of safety, she said Mental Health has “come up to speed where DSS (Department of Social Services) was in regards to workplace safety.”

She said the department contracted with a company called Securemedy to institute numerous facility, group and personal safety measures, such as conducting rounds daily, having an on-site supervisor to intervene with immediate issues, improving communication and security checks, and making sure all posts are guarded.

The agency has seen a 13 percent increase in the average of monthly services for billing over the first four months of 2020, Battaglia said, attributing that to a streamlined billing process along with a “high demand” for services at this point in time.

“One of our missions is to decrease the cost to our county, and one way to do that is by getting the billing folks together and having them cross-train now that we have our new electronic medical records going live on July 1,” she explained. “It’s really going to mainstream how we conduct billing … We’re going with a clearing house, which is going to be great.”

June 2, 2020 - 10:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Salon Miaou, covid-19, coronavirus, news, live stream, video, batavia.
Video Sponsor

Interview: Nicole Ilasi, owner of Salon Miaou, about the challenges salon and barbershop owners are facing in Phase Two reopening. Salon Miaou is located at 417 E. Main St. in Batavia.

June 2, 2020 - 9:15am

Mention the Genesee County Youth Bureau and thoughts of after-school activities or arts and crafts may come to mind. But, as you learn more about the agency’s operation, it becomes clear that interaction with today’s adolescent population is not all fun and games.

Youth Bureau Director Jocelyn Sikorski touched on a couple of the more serious issues on Monday as she presented a departmental review and outlook at the County Legislature’s Human Services Committee Zoom videoconferencing meeting.

Sikorski said the bureau received 30 referrals – the most ever – to Youth Court in 2019, with 24 of them coming from law enforcement and the remainder from schools and the Probation Department.

Eighteen of the referrals (and subsequent trials) occurred in the last three months of the year, resulting in a very busy time for Program Coordinator Chelsea Elliott and Program Assistant Chelsea Green, she said.

She recounted the story of a 15-year-old boy who was referred to Youth Court on a criminal mischief complaint and ended up having to perform 35 hours of community service, write three essays for reflection and a letter of apology, and take anger management classes.

“A lot of his issues were with his father, specifically, and as a result, she (Elliott) placed them to do community service at our local animal shelter,” Sikorski said. “And because of his age they asked that a parent be with him.”

Sikorski said that the boy and his dad completed the service together at the animal shelter and they continue to do so.

“On top of completing the community service hours and building the relationship with his father – which was something that was vital to his success – they are still supporting our local animal shelter,” Sikorski reported. “He is one of our positives out of our Youth Court system. They’re all very positive, but that’s one that really stood out.”

The director also shared a story connected to the department’s Safe Harbour program that deals with child trafficking and human trafficking. The youth bureau is in the first year of a five-year funding cycle through a contract with the Department of Social Services.

“Since COVID started, we had a call from Restore (a program of Planned Parenthood) and they said they have a young woman who they believed is being trafficked who was coming in for medical services, but they couldn’t ask her because the individual who was potentially trafficking her was coming to all her appointments,” Sikorski said.

Due to the virus guidelines, that other person was not allowed in the exam room, and that gave counselors a chance to provide resources such as domestic violence information and a list of places where the woman could go for temporary housing.

Sikorski said the young woman has two small children, so “she’s not necessarily ready to leave, but if she needs help, she knows where she can get it now and they were able to have that conversation with her.”

She said the bureau’s goal this year is to provide community education and training and to conduct a media campaign leading to a needs assessment to youth-serving professionals (police, school counselors) who work with anyone that would come in contact with a young person who could be at risk of being trafficked.

In 2019, the youth bureau distributed 35 Go Bags to at-risk or runaway youth, Sikorski said. These backpacks include supplies for a night – health and beauty products, a blanket, hat and gloves, granola bars, trail mix, bottled water and gift card for coffee. Twenty-seven of the Go Bags went to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department, which has a bag in the trunk of all its patrol cars.

On the subject of activities and events for youth, Sikorski said COVID-19 has brought things to a standstill and that could be the case for a while longer since youth programs are in Phase Four of the state’s reopening plan.

“Our funded programs, all but one are closed and not operating at this time,” she said. “I’m waiting to hear back from some of our funded youth rec programs for the summer months.”

Sikorski said springtime is normally the bureau’s busiest time of the year,

“About every other week we had major events scheduled, and moving into the summer as well that we have had to cancel or postpone,” she said. “We’re hopeful that we’ll have some semblance of normalcy in the fall where we will be able to get back to doing the things we routinely do for our community, but it has been a challenge.”

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The Genesee County Youth Bureau provides a variety of services, activities and events, primarily in Genesee County, including the Liberty Center for Youth in the City of Batavia, and also in Orleans County. For more information, go to its website

June 1, 2020 - 7:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Andrew Cuomo, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

  • Positive reform agenda also includes national ban on excessive force; independent investigations of police abuse; disclosure of disciplinary records of police officers being investigated 
  • Governor Cuomo: "I said from day one, I share the outrage and I stand with the protestors. You look at that video of the killing of an unarmed man, Mr. Floyd, it is horrendous. Horrendous. It's frightening. It perverts everything you believe about this country. It does and there's no excuse for it. No right minded American would make an excuse for it. So, protest yes. Be frustrated, yes. Outraged, yes of course. Is there a larger problem? Of course."
  • Cuomo: "You want to make that moment work. Yes, you express the outrage. But then you say, 'Here's my agenda. Here's what I want.' That's what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protestors are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse."
  • Governor Cuomo today proposed a positive reform agenda amidst the ongoing protests across the state and nation in response to the killing of George Floyd. The reform agenda includes a national ban on excessive force and chokeholds by law enforcement officers; independent investigations of police abuse conducted by independent, outside agencies -- not by local prosecutors; and disclosure of disciplinary records of police officers being investigated.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

We're talking about reopening in one week in New York City. Now we're seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could, in fact, exacerbate the COVID-19 spread. We spent all this time closed down, locked down, masked, socially distanced and then you turn on the TV and you see there's mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people. After everything that we have done. We have to talk a minute and ask ourselves what are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish?

We have protests across the state that continued last night, they continued across the nation. Upstate we worked with the cities very closely. The State Police did a great job. We had, basically, a few scattered arrests, upstate New York. But the local governments did a great job, the people did a great job, law enforcement did a great job. The protestors were responsible. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad, either, upstate.

I said from day one, I share the outrage and I stand with the protestors. You look at that video of the killing of an unarmed man, Mr. Floyd, it is horrendous. Horrendous. It's frightening. It perverts everything you believe about this country. It does and there's no excuse for it. No right-minded American would make an excuse for it. So, protest yes. Be frustrated, yes. Outraged, yes of course. Is there a larger problem? Of course. It's not just Mr. Floyd, it goes back -- there are 50 cases that are just like Mr. Floyd. We've them here in New York City. What's the difference between Mr. Floyd and Amadou Diallo? Or Abner Louima? Or Eric Garner? What is the difference? What have we learned? Nothing?

So, yes, we should be outraged. And yes, there's a bigger point to make. It is abuse by police. But it's something worse. It is racism. It is discrimination. It is fundamental inequality and injustice. My father spoke about it in 1984. The speech called "The Tale of Two Cities." People still talk about it. The point of the tale of two cities is there's two Americas. Two sets of rules. Two sets of outcomes. Two sets of expectations. It's true. It was true then, it's true now. Look at our prisons and tell me there's not inherent injustice in society. Look at public housing, tell me there's not inherent injustice.

Look at what happened with this COVID infection rate nationwide. More African Americans infected, more African Americans dead proportionally than white Americans. Of course, there's chronic institutionalized discrimination. There is no doubt. There is no doubt. And there's no doubt that it's been going on for a long time and people are frustrated, and it has to be corrected and it has to be corrected now. And there's no doubt, that this nation as great as it is has had the continuing sin of discrimination. From before the nation was formed and it started with slavery. And it has had different faces over the decades, but it's still the same sin. That is true. That is true. So let's use this moment as a moment of change? Yes.

When does change come? When the stars align and society focuses and the people focus, and they focus to such an extent that the politicians follow the people. That's when change comes. "Well, the leaders lead!" Baloney. The people lead. And then the politicians see the people moving, and the politicians run to catch up with the people. How did we pass marriage equality in this State, giving a new civil right to the LGBTQ community? Because the people said, "enough is enough. How can you say only heterosexual people can marry, but the LGBTQ people— they can't marry? How is that constitutional? How is that legal?" You have your own preference— God bless you. But how in the law, do you discriminate between two classes of people. We passed marriage equality.

 After the Sandy Hook massacre, after all those years we tried to pass common-sense gun safety. Do you really need an assault weapon to kill a deer? But then the Sandy Hook massacre happened, and the people said, "enough. You're killing children? Young children in schools with an assault weapon? In the Sandy Hook massacre. Enough."

And in that moment, we passed common-sense gun safety in the State of New York. Record income inequality? People said, "enough" and passed a real minimum wage in this State that went all across the nation. There's a moment for change, and is there a moment here? Yes. If we're constructive and if we're smart, and if we know what were asking for! It's not enough to come out and say, "I'm angry, I'm frustrated." OK. And what? "Well, I don't know, but I'm angry and frustrated."

And you want what done? You need the answer. "Well, I want common-sense gun reform." OK, what does it look like? Here it is— three points. "Well I want to address income inequality." Well, what do you want? "Here's what I want. Minimum wage at $15. Free college tuition." What do you want?

You want to make that moment work. Yes, you express the outrage! But then you say, "here's my agenda. Here's what I want." That's what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protestors are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse.

When you have the local District Attorney doing the investigations— I don't care how good they are— there is the suggestion of a conflict of interest. Why? Because that DA works with that police department every day and now that prosecutor is going to do the investigation of that police department that they work with every day? Conflict of interests can be real or perceived. How can people believe that the local prosecutor who works with that police department is going to be fair in the investigation? It shouldn't be state by state. Minnesota Governor Walz put the attorney general in charge. Good. In this state, I put attorney general in charge of investigations where police kill an unarmed person. Good. But it shouldn't be the exception. It should be the rule. There is no self-policing. There's an allegation, independent investigation. Give people comfort that the investigation is real. 

If a police officer is being investigated, how is there disciplinary records not relevant? Once a police officer is being investigated, if they have disciplinary records that show this was a repeat pattern, how is that not relevant? By the way, the disciplinary records can also be used to exonerate. If they have disciplinary records that say he never, she never did anything like this before, fine. That's relevant too.

We still have two education systems in this country. Everybody knows it. Your education is decided by your zip code. Poorer schools in poorer communities have a different level of funding than richer schools in this state. $36,000 per year we spend in a rich district. $13,000 in a poor district. How do you justify that? If anything, the children in a poorer community need more services in a school, not less. How do you justify that? You can't. Do something about it. You still have children living in poverty in this nation? Well, when we had to, we found a trillion dollars to handle the COVID virus, but you can't find funding to help children who live in poverty? No, you can find it, United States. You just don't want to. It's political will. When you need to find the money, you can find it. Let's be honest, the federal government has a printing press in their basement. When they have the political will, they find the money.

The federal government went out of the housing business and never re-entered it. We have a national affordable housing crisis. Of course you do. You don't fund affordable housing. I'm the former HUD secretary. I know better than anyone what the federal government used to do in terms of affordable housing with Section 8 and building new public housing. And we just stopped, and we left it to the market. Now you have an affordable housing plan. That's what we should be addressing in this moment. And we should be saying to our federal officials, "There's an election this year, a few months away. Here's my agenda. Where do you stand?" Say to the congress, the House and Senate, "Where's your bill on this?" 

I heard some congressional people talking saying well maybe they'll do a resolution. Yeah, resolutions are nice. Resolutions say in theory I support this. Pass a law, that's what we want. A law that actually changes the reality, where something actually happens. That's government's job is to actually make change. Make change. You're in a position to make change. Make change. Use this moment to galvanize public support. Use that outrage to actually make the change. And have the intelligence to say what changes you actually want. Otherwise, it's just screaming into the wind if you don't know exactly what changes we need to make. 

And we have to be smart in this moment. The violence in these protests obscures the righteousness of the message. The people who are exploiting the situation, the looting, that's not protesting. That's not righteous indignation. That's criminality and it plays into the hands of the people and the forces that don't want to make the changes in the first place because then they get to dismiss the entire effort. I will tell you what they're going to say. They're going to say the first thing the President said when this happened. They're going to say "These are looters." Remember when the President put out that incendiary tweet? "We start shooting when they start looting or they start looting, we start shooting?" That's an old '60s call.

The violence, the looting, the criminality plays right into those people who don't want progressive change. And you mark my words, they're going to say today, "Oh you see, they're criminals. They're looters. Did you see what they did breaking the store windows and going in and stealing?" And they're going to try to paint this whole protest movement that they're all criminals, they're all looters. That's what they're going to do. Why? They don't want to talk about Mr. Floyd's death. They don't want people seeing that video. They want people seeing the video of the looting. And when people see the video of the looting they say "Oh yeah, that's scary. They're criminals." No, look at the video of the police officer killing Mr. Floyd. That's the video we want people watching.

Now, I don't even believe it's the protesters. I believe there are people who are using this moment and using the protest for their own purpose. There are people who want to sow the seeds of anarchy, who want to disrupt. By the way, there are people who want to steal. And here's a moment that you can use this moment to steal. You can use this moment to spread chaos. I hear the same thing from all the local officials. They have people in their communities who are there to quote-unquote protests. They're not from their community. They don't know where they're from, extremist groups, some people are going to blame the left, some people will blame the right. It will become politicized. But there is no doubt there are outside groups that come in to disrupt. There is no doubt that there are people who just use this moment to steal. What, it's a coincidence they broke into a Rolex watch company? That was a coincidence? High-end stores, Chanel. That was a coincidence? That was random? That was not random. So, can you have a legitimate protest movement hijacked? Yes, you can. Yes, you can. And there are people and forces who will exploit that moment and I believe that's happening.

But we still have to be smart. And at the same time, we have a fundamental issue which is we just spent 93 days limiting behavior, closing down, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed. People will have lost their jobs. People wiped out their savings. And now mass gatherings with thousands of people in close proximity one week before we're going to reopen New York City? What sense does this make? Control the spread, control the spread, control the spread. We don't even know the consequence for the COVID virus of those mass gatherings. We don't even know. We won't know possibly for weeks. It's the nature of the virus. How many super-spreaders were in that crowd? "Well, they were mostly young people." How many young people went home and kissed their mother hello or shook hands with their father or hugged their father or their grandfather or their brother or their mother or their sister and spread a virus?

New York City opens next week. Took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart? New York tough. We went from the worst situation to reopening. From the worst situation to 54 deaths in 50 days. We went from the worst situation to reopening in 93 days. We did that because we were New York tough. New York tough was smart. We were smart. We were smart for 93 days. We were united, we were respectful of each other. We were disciplined. Wearing the mask is just discipline, it's just discipline. Remember to put it on, remember to pick it up, remembering to put it on when see someone, it's just discipline.

It was also about love. We did it because we love one another. That's what a community is. We love one another. And yes, you can be loving even in New York. Even with the New York toughness, even with a New York accent, even with a New York swagger. We're loving. That's what we've done for 93 days in a way we've never done it before. Never in my lifetime. Never in my lifetime has this city and this state come together in the way we have. I don't think it ever will again, in my lifetime. Now you can say maybe it takes a global pandemic for it to happen. I don't know if that's true and I don't know that the power of what it was like when it came together might not be so beautiful that people want to do it again.

Remember when we all acted together during coronavirus and we rallied and we knocked coronavirus on its rear end. Remember when we all wore masks and we had to have hand sanitizer? Remember what we did? Wow. When we come together, we can do anything and it's true. It's true for the state, it's true for a nation. When you come together and you have one agenda you can do anything. You want to change society, you want to end the tale of two cities, you want to make it one America? You can do that, just the way you knocked coronavirus on its rear end.

People united can do anything. We showed that, we just showed that the past 93 days. We can end the injustice and the discrimination and the intolerance and the police abuse. We have to be smart. We have to be smart right now. Right now in this state. We have to be smart tonight in this city because this is not advancing a reform agenda. This is not persuading government officials to change. This is not helping end coronavirus. We have to be smart.

June 1, 2020 - 4:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

New Cases

  • As of 2 p.m.
    • Genesee County received one new positive case of COVID-19, for a total of 189 positive cases.
      • The positive case resides in Batavia.
      • The positive individual is in their 20s.
      • The positive case was on mandatory quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.
      • One of the total active positive cases are hospitalized.
    • Orleans County received four new positive case of COVID-19, for a total of 234 positive cases.
      • One of the new positive individuals resides in Ridgeway, three of the new positives individuals live at Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
      • Of the new positive case one of the individuals is in their 20’s, one of the individuals is in their 60s, one of the individuals is in their 70s and one of the individuals is in their 80s.
      • The new positive case was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
      • Two of the previous positive cases has recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Nineteen of the total active positive cases are hospitalized. Please note those in the hospital may be from the community or a state-regulated facility. We do not separate them out to protect their privacy.
      • We are sorry to report that we have lost one more county resident due to COVID-19. The individual resided at the Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of these individuals during this very sad time.

Click here to view the Genesee and Orleans counties' online map of confirmed cases.

Phase Two is now open in the Finger Lakes region! There are still limitations. We encourage business owners to go to the NY Forward website and click on Phase Two for more information.   https://forward.ny.gov/phase-two-industries

Per Governor Cuomo, gatherings of 10 or less are permitted with social distancing and sanitization protocols in place. The executive order is only good for 30 days or unless it is extended. 

For questions go to NY Forward website and the Regional Control Room (for guidance and to answer your questions:  mailto:[email protected]). To file a complaint about a business, location or incident in your community you can call (833) 789-0470 or file online.

  • Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting for Reopening America, click here.
  • Dentists statewide can reopen starting today -- June 1st -- while adhering to best practices for safety and social distancing guidelines.
  • All businesses opening in Phase Two are required to have their Business Safety Plan in place, review the summary guidelines for their business and read and affirm the detailed guidelines. All this is to be kept on the premises. The local health department will not be reviewing these plans, however they need to be accessible for state and local authorities.

To learn more, visit New York State on PAUSE online NYS on PAUSE. To assist local authorities with enforcement of these orders, the Governor established the New York State PAUSE Enforcement Assistance Task Force where individuals can file complaints regarding the operation of nonessential businesses or gatherings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Click here to file a complaint online. You may also call 1-833-789-0470. Businesses that are not in compliance with the Governor’s executive order may be penalized.

  • A reminder that outdoor seating for restaurants is still prohibited according to the Governor’s Executive Order and Phase One and Phase Two guidelines. Restaurants are to provide takeout or delivery for off-premise consumption only until Phase Three or until the Governor states otherwise.  

Swabbing and antibody testing is becoming increasingly available in the WNY region. If you are experiencing symptoms, contact your primary care provider and they will determine if testing is right for you. If the counties receive an increase in swabbing supplies and the protocol for testing is changed, we will notify the public. The Health Departments are not providing public swabbing due to lack of supplies. For more information on testing click here.

There is free antibody testing available for food delivery and restaurant workers now through Thursday, June 4th. Testing is walk-in testing from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and face masks are required at each of the testing locations. The closest testing location is Erie Community College North Campus. It takes a while for antibodies to build up, so it is best to wait until at least 21 days have passed since you had a positive viral test or the symptoms of COVID-19 started.

If you were already tested and the results were negative, or you have never been tested and you have been exposed to the virus at work or at home, you can also be tested using the dried-blood spot test. For antibody testing system questions use this email.

Reopening Guidance: Links to assist businesses

o   Link to the NY Forward Reopening guide (PDF).

o   Regional Control Room email.

o   Link to NY Forward website.

o   Link to NY Forward "Can I reopen?" Business Look-up Tool.

  • Public/Private Beaches guidelines.
  • COVID-19 Test Site Finder.
  • Masks / Face Coverings Both counties are still low in supplies of masks. They are being distributed to high-risk agencies / businesses as prioritized and if there is a supply left over they will be distributed in an appropriate manner. County plans for releasing supplies to the public will be forthcoming as supplies become available. Additional information will be released by the respective County Emergency Management offices as appropriate.  
  • ROC COVID-19 Health Screener: This symptom tracker for the Greater Rochester region is a scientific study collected aggregate data by zip code to track hot spots of COVID-19. The data will potentially show how the virus may be spreading, identify areas that may be at risk and determine how our efforts are working to slow the spread. You can participate by taking the daily survey whether you are having symptoms or are feeling healthy. It just takes a few seconds. To learn more, click here
  • The Nursing Home hotline number is (833) 249-8499 or click this link for the online form.
June 1, 2020 - 1:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in dog training, Calling All Dogs, covid-19, business.

(Above, file photo from 2014 of certified local dog trainer Tori Ganino with a four-legged client.)

COVID-19 has forced Batavia-based dog trainer Tori Ganino to permanently close her facility, Calling All Dogs, at 8 Wade Ave. in the city.

As a result, she can no longer provide daycare or group classes. But she wants everyone to know that she will continue to offer private lessions in people's homes and virtually online.

Ganino has a bachelor's degree in psychology from SUNY Brockport and is a Certified Dog Behavior Specialist and has CPDT-KA certification from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

The certification process includes more than 400 hours of coursework, 500 hours of work with clients, and a 12-part essay-based exam. Certification also requires ongoing training and keeping abreast of the latest research-based behavior and training techniques. She is also an International Companion Animal Network Member.

If you are have a new puppy or want some guidance about your dog's behavior, you can schedule a free 30-minute phone consulation by phoning (585) 455-5387 or emailing her: [email protected]

Ganino specializes in helping frustrated owners whose dogs bark, lunge and cower to gain control over the chaos. Using science-based force-free training, she helps owners transform their exuberant dogs into well-mannered companions.

Her featured programs include:

  • Reactive Dog Program -- Designed for dogs that bark, lunge, and bite. Owners learn skills needed to teach their dog how to behave happily.
  • Well-mannered Companion Program -- Learn how to transform your exuberant dog into a calmer and more suitable companion.

Her website also has helpful, informative posts such as: "Using Games to Calm Your Dog," "How to Break Up a Dog Fight," and in a world of punishment-based training and quick TV fixes, she offers this benevolent insight "I'm My Dogs' Caregiver, Not Their Alpha."

Clients praise her calm demeanor, skillfulness and professionalism in doing a job she clearly enjoys. They say she listens carefully, communicates effectively, follows through on details, and works tirelessly to craft a plan to achieve the best outcomes for dogs and their owners.

Previously:​

May 31, 2020 - 1:29pm

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt devastating blows to businesses of all types and sizes, but not many have been hit harder than the bowling industry.

The 2019-20 bowling season was cut short when the virus hit in mid-March, forcing leagues to cancel their seasons with four to eight weeks remaining.

As the crisis continued, tournaments at the national, state and local levels were cancelled – keeping bowlers on the sidelines and preventing organizations and center proprietors from generating millions of dollars in budgeted revenue.

With June a day away, bowling centers remain closed in most states. In New York, bowling has been lumped together with other forms of entertainment into Phase Four of the state’s reopening plan and it likely will be at least another month before centers are allowed to open their doors.

Proprietors, reeling from end-of-season losses, also have seen their spring and summer league programs washed away. They are uncertain about the start of the 2020-21 season in late August and early September, and wonder what league bowling will look like going forward.

“Bowling is not going to be the same for a while,” said Jack Moran, proprietor of Roseland Family Fun Center in Canandaigua, a facility that offers 34 traditional bowling lanes as well as eight VIP lanes, café, sports bar, and an arcade with laser tag and bumper cars.

Social distancing parameters – requirements that people stay at least six feet away from each other – have prompted the United States Bowling Congress to temporarily waive playing rules stating that two lanes must be used for competition and that bowlers must alternate lanes.

The USBC also waived the requirement that both lanes must be used for a bowler to be eligible for awards and average recognition.

What that means is, for league play, a team could bowl the entire game on lane one, for example, and its opposing team, could bowl its entire game on lane three.

Additionally, bowlers will be allowed to use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to clean their bowling balls during competition – a change from the current rule that states that no cleaners can be used during competition.

Although it is yet to be seen whether those new rules will be put into play, proprietors hoping to run summer leagues after reopening may have no alternatives.

“What are we going to do for six to eight weeks of summer leagues? We’re better off trying to run a special promotion to get people in the doors again, so that they feel safe,” said Moran, a past president of the NYS Bowling Proprietors Association. “We’re not even sure if people coming back in September are going to feel safe.”

Randy Hanks, proprietor of the 18-lane Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion, said he is planning to separate customers by around 15 feet for open bowling.

“If a family’s is using a pair (of lanes) and they’re on lanes one and two, the next one used will be lane five – 15 to 20 feet away,” he said. “Plus, I’m going to have them prepay, leave the (house) balls and shoes on the ball return, and we’ll sanitize them after everybody is done.”

The NYS BPA already has drafted a long list of health- and safety-related protocols that proprietors will use to ensure a safe environment. Details can be found in the article below.

Hanks said the restaurant portion of his business has been open for take-out only, but revenue pales in comparison to normal operation.

“We lost four summer league, including our adult-junior league that would have ended the day we maybe can open up – June 26th,” Hanks said. “I don’t even want to look to see how much I lost since March 15 compared to the same time the last two years.”

Moran said his staff has been working hard to implement the protocols – markings on the floor, plexiglass shields, acquiring digital thermometers to check everyone’s temperature coming into one specified entrance, and so on.

“From what we’re being told, we will be allowed to open at 50 percent of our occupancy,” he said. “In my case, it equates to about 120 people in my center.”

He said he has talked to colleagues in other states to get a pulse on the situation.

“Talking to my friends in Ohio and Florida – they have been able to open up but it’s limited hours and every other lane for social distancing,” he said. “Right now, we’re trying to look at what the league structure will be like in September – and it’s not looking good if this thing goes six months.”

Mike Sputore, manager of Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia, said he is looking to reopen the 24-lane center in mid- to late-August with all the protocols in place.

Echoing the concerns of the whole industry, he said time will tell on how to proceed.

“There are just too many uncertainties at this time,” he said. “How do we run the leagues? Do we use just one lane? How much time will it take to bowl? Will more than one league be able to bowl at a time? I just hope people don’t give up league bowling.”

May 31, 2020 - 1:24pm

Numerous bowling centers around the nation – and especially in New York State – are “on the brink” of closing for good, according to a well-known Long Island proprietor who is spearheading a grassroots campaign to persuade Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow these recreational facilities to open up sooner than currently planned.

“We want to make everyone aware that bowling centers are more like restaurants, and should be permitted to reopen in Phase Three (of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan) instead of Phase Four,” said John LaSpina, president of Maple Family Centers, a chain of four bowling centers in the New York City area and another location in Florida.

La Spina has held numerous bowling leadership positions at the national, state, and local levels over a 60-year career. He has received multiple honors, including being selected as the International Bowling Industry Person of the Year in 1994 and to the New York State Hall of Fame in 2016.

He is calling upon New York state bowling association officers, league bowlers, and local government officials to contact their local legislators and request that the governor places bowling into Phase Three, a move that would enable bowlers to enjoy their sport two weeks earlier than currently planned.

Bowling is not the same as professional sports played in huge stadiums, and events staged in arenas and the theater, La Spina said.

“As bowlers centers have plenty of room and as proprietors understand the challenges we face, there is no reason why we can’t open up bowling in Phase Three so we may save some of the centers that are on the brink,” he said. “We respect the rules of social distancing and can easily and safely accommodate bowlers in our large facilities with 50 percent occupancy sooner rather than later.”

LaSpina said he is afraid that more and more businesses, not just bowling centers, will be closing their doors and may not come back as a result of the devastation caused by the coronavirus.

He and others representing the NYS Bowling Proprietors Association have drafted a letter that includes “talking points” and a list of protocols that bowling center personnel has put in place to protect the health of customers and staff.

Just a few of the protocols include:

-- Cleaning the seating, ball return, and scoring area using a disinfectant rated for COVID-19 between each lane usage;
-- Disinfecting each bowling center rental ball before and after each use, and each rental shoe before and after each use;
-- Providing social distancing throughout the facility to eliminate shared spaces;
-- Providing cashless payment options where possible;
-- Providing a separate entrance and exit for guests;
-- Installing plexiglass barriers at counters, between employees and customers;
-- Limiting group reservations to six or less.

He also said that people can email him at [email protected] if they need to identify members of the state Senate and Assembly in their area.

“We’re appealing to anyone – local mayors, police commissioners, restaurateurs and owners of other businesses – who can help us make our case, who know that bowling is a safe activity and that those who operate bowling are responsible people with a plan to keep everyone safe and to keep their facilities clean,” LaSpina said.

May 31, 2020 - 11:46am

Message from Pastor Roula Alkhouri, "What is Saving Your Life Right Now?"

May 30, 2020 - 6:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, news, notify.

Press release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments have received six more COVID-19 cases. Orleans has four new positive cases (bringing the total to 225) and Genesee has two (bringing the total to 188).

Contact tracing has been initiated and all who have had direct contact with the individuals will be notified by Health Department staff. Three of the Orleans County individuals are residents of Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and one is a community resident. The two individuals from Genesee County are both community members.

There is currently no further information to release on ages and locations. Mapping to include the positive cases from the weekend will be updated on Monday afternoon.

Now that we are in Phase 2, we ask residents to continue social distancing, mask wearing, and proper hygiene even in the company of whom we trust the most -- family, friends, and coworkers. We also ask residents to be respectful of the business owners and wear masks while you are in their establishment.

If you are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition, call the business and ask for curbside delivery. We can all show people that we care and respect them by continuing these practices to keep everyone safe.

May 30, 2020 - 12:01pm

Press release:

On Monday, June 1, there will be a free milk giveaway at Craigs Creamery in Pavilion, located on the border of Genesee and Livingston counties at 1840 Craig Road.

The event is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. and gallons of milk will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis until gone.

The distribution in conjunction with Natural Upcycling, Dairy Farmers of America and the Livingston County Farm Bureau, is in honor of World Milk Day.

Up to 2,000 gallons of Craigs Creamery milk is expected to be given away.

This effort was made possible through the ReFED COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund, a grant designed to reduce food waste across the United States.

May 29, 2020 - 6:08pm

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley voted "yes" on an amendment, introduced by the Minority Conference that would have taken large steps to ensure that the governor’s executive powers wouldn’t continue.

Since the start of the statewide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Cuomo has issued 36 executive orders that impose a range of rules and regulations, from business closings to election process overhauls.

Hawley believes steps to curb that power will return the state to the more familiar democratic republic that New Yorkers expect.

However, despite the clear need for curtailing of executive privilege and overreaching of authority, the Downstate politicians voted down this amendment, keeping the governor’s power absolute. Despite this setback, Hawley is just as determined to fight and hold the Majority and the governor accountable.

“In the early stages of a pandemic, getting all of your ducks in a row is incredibly important, and the use of executive privilege in handling a crisis early on was important,” Hawley said. “However, with the decline in positive cases and the return of the legislature, it’s high time that clearer boundaries be made for what is and is not acceptable for the governor to do.

"This amendment would have restored the checks and balances system that is so crucial to our democracy. It’s a shame that my colleagues in the majority couldn’t recognize this, because it leaves the door open for power abuse and manipulation in the future. That’s no future I want to see in this state, so I will be fighting diligently to return the checks and balances.”

Specific provisions of the proposed legislation included:

  • County-by-County Declaration – All state of emergency declarations would be done on a county-by-county basis rather than statewide, with a detailed explanation for each county based on the specific facts and circumstances of such county justifying the emergency declaration.
  • Limited Duration – All emergency declarations would automatically end within 30 days, and could be extended by the governor for an additional 15 days. No other extension could occur without being authorized by the state Legislature.
  • Local Authority – The county executive, chairperson of a county legislature would be able to request that the governor terminate any state of emergency that applies to their respective county. If the governor does not grant the request, he must provide the specific reasons why the request was denied.
  • Due Process – Any Executive Order that impairs freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, the equal protection of the law, the loss of liberty or property, or other fundamental constitutional rights would be subject to due process review, in a manner specified in the Executive Order and subject to independent judicial review.
May 29, 2020 - 5:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, Andrew Cuomo.

Press release:

  • Announces additional industries following strict safety and social distancing guidelines can reopen in Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier as part of Phase 2 today.
  • Implements new early warning system dashboard to aggregate and organize New York State's COVID-19 data in partnership with county, regional, state and global experts. 
  • Confirms 1,551 additional coronavirus dases in New York State -- bringing statewide total to 368,284; new cases in 48 counties.

Governor Cuomo: "Phase one should bring about 400,000 employees back to work in New York City. Remember that reopening does not mean we're going back to the way things were. Life is not about going back. Nobody goes back. We go forward. It's going to be different. It is reopening to a new normal, it's a safer normal. People will be wearing masks, people will be socially distanced. It doesn't mean they don't like you, it's not a personal reflection, it's just a new way of interacting which is what we have to do." 

Cuomo: "Wear a mask, get tested, and socially distance. It is that simple, but that hard. It is that simple, but that hard. Those simple devices - wearing a mask, hand sanitizer -- they make all the difference. You talk to all the experts -- what advice, what should we do? Wear a mask. How can it be that simple? Because sometimes it's that simple." 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York City will enter Phase 1 of reopening on June 8 and that five other regions—Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier — can enter Phase 2 of reopening today. Phase 2 allows office-based workers, real estate services, in-store retail shopping and some barbershop services to resume.

Each industry is subject to specific state guidelines to maximize safety and social distancing. Business guidance for phase two of the state's reopening plan is available here.

Governor Cuomo also announced the implementation of a new early warning dashboard that aggregates the state's expansive data collection efforts for New Yorkers, government officials and experts to monitor and review how the virus is being contained on an ongoing basis.

It tracks new infections and their severity, hospital capacity by region, and other metrics. The early warning system dashboard was developed in consultation with internationally known experts who have been advising New York State. The early warning dashboard can be found here.

May 29, 2020 - 4:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, live stream, video.
Video Sponsor

Public Health COVID-19 briefing for May 29, 2020.

Press release:

  • As of 2 p.m.
    • Genesee County received one new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 186 positive cases.
      • The positive case resides in Batavia.
      • The positive individual is in their 20s.
      • The positive case was on mandatory quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.
      • Two of the total active positive cases are hospitalized.
    • Orleans County received 10 new positive case of COVID-19, for a total of 221 positive cases.
      • One of the new positive individuals resides in Albion, three of the new positives live in Ridgeway, one of the new positive lives at The Villages of Orleans Health & Rehabilitation Center and five of the new positive individuals live at Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
      • Of the new positive case one of the individuals is under 20, one of the individual is in their 20s, two individuals are in their 50s, two individuals are in their 60s, three individuals are in their 70s and one of the individuals is in their 90s.
      • Two of the new positive cases were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
      • One of the previous positive cases has recovered and has been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Nineteen of the total active positive cases are hospitalized. Please note those in the hospital may be from the community or a state-regulated facility. We do not separate them out to protect their privacy.
      • We are sorry to report that we have lost two more county residents due to COVID-19. The individuals resided at the Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of these individuals during this very sad time.

 covidchartmay292020.png

agechartmay292020.png   

Click here to view the Genesee and Orleans County online map of confirmed cases.

May 29, 2020 - 10:49am

With Phase Two of New York’s reopening plan temporarily on hold due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for a review of the health data by “international experts,” Genesee County business owners hoping to open their doors to the public can only sit and wait for another update out of Albany.

That update may be coming very soon, said state Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, speaking by telephone after a nearly 15-hour legislative session that ended around 2:30 this morning.

“My belief is that he (Cuomo) is going to make an announcement this morning that on Saturday we’re going to enter Phase Two,” Hawley said, after expressing his dismay over how things have been handled since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in mid-March.

“I’m not sure how he has been able to do it pretty much all on his own up to this point with looking at statistics and data as he likes to call his decision-making process,” Hawley said. “I’m not sure why all of a sudden, he wants to bring in whoever his experts are. He has quite a few around him and pretty much has single-handedly run the state for the past two months.”

On Thursday, published reports indicated that Cuomo said he has “international experts who (will) go through it and we’ll follow the data.”

“The reopening in the first five regions ends tomorrow. When the reopening of Phase One ends, we’ll give the experts all the data. It is posted on the web, but let them analyze it. And if they say we should move forward, we’ll move forward,” the governor stated.

The Finger Lakes Region, which includes Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming counties, entered Phase One on May 15.

Regional leaders were expecting to enter Phase Two today, with that action clearing the way for more retail stores, barber shops, salons, real estate offices and professional services to reopen.

Hawley said the time has come, with adherence to proper safety guidelines, to return to some sense of normalcy.

“Enough stalling,” he said. “We have done what we need to do for the last two and a half months, and we’ve been doing it well. Western New York is not New York City.”

The assemblyman also said Republicans attempted to pass a resolution to a bill last night during session “that would have taken away his (Cuomo's) powers and suspended his one-man rule, but it failed on a party-line vote pretty much.”

“We need to get back on track and have three co-equal branches of our government operating as it was intended to do in our country and our state,” he offered.

Hawley also criticized the state Department of Labor for delays in processing unemployment insurance checks for those who have been laid off through this health crisis.

“We have folks who have been waiting for unemployment for eight, nine, 10 weeks,” he said. “The Labor Department was operating under a system known as MS-DOS, which is an outdated, archaic technology that was used back in the 1980s. It was never updated in all these years.”

Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein also weighed in this morning, acknowledging that patience has “worn thin.”

A part of the regional control room, Stein said that prior to official word from Cuomo, business owners could put their licenses at risk by opening on their own.

“We would just ask for additional patience and we understand that (patience) has already all worn thin. But to get out ahead of the governor is not a good position to be in,” she said.

She added that new guidance has been posted on the New York Forward website.

--------------

Genesee County Fair cancellation a tough break for 4-Hers

Stein said she was disappointed over the cancellation of the Genesee County Fair and felt bad for the young people involved in 4-H.

“The 4-H youth who participate in educational programs all year long, and have an animal ready to go to the Fair that they have spent an incredible amount of time, either training or growing --this type of learning experience that 4-H provides for our youth, along with the animal agriculture education, for me, that’s the hardest hit,” she said.

Co-owner of Stein Farms in Le Roy, she said she understands the work that goes into getting ready for the fair.

“It’s not just a couple weeks before the fair,” she said. “It starts when the animal is born, and there is a significant amount of blood, sweat and tears that goes into these animals and these projects. That’s where my heart really has been saddened by this.”

She said she supports the Agricultural Society’s decision to cancel.

“I know it’s been a terribly difficult decision for the Ag Society to come to, but as I see that other fairs have done the same to protect the health and safety of others, I know that just this one time, just for now, this is what needs to happen,” she said.

May 28, 2020 - 4:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

  • As of 2 p.m.
    • Genesee County received two new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 185 positive cases.
      • The two positive cases reside in Batavia.
      • One of the positive individuals is less than 20 and one is in their 50s.
      • One of the positive cases was not on mandatory quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.
      • Two of the total active positive cases are hospitalized.
    • Orleans County received two new positive case of COVID-19, for a total of 211 positive cases.
      • One of the new positive individuals resides in Albion and one of the new positive individuals resides at Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
      • Of the new positive case one of the individuals is in their 40s and one of the individuals is in their 80s.
      • None of the new positive cases were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
      • Two of the previous positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Eighteen of the total active positive cases are hospitalized. Please note those in the hospital may be from the community or a state-regulated facility. We do not separate them out to protect their privacy.
      • We are sorry to report that we have lost another county resident due to COVID-19. The individual resided at the Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of this individual during this very sad time.
May 28, 2020 - 3:33pm

Press release:

The Batavia Career and Technical Education Center National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) Chapter announced the names of 33 career and technical student inductees this month. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this induction ceremony event was canceled.

These students met the rigorous criteria set forth by this national organization. The minimum grade-point average for acceptance is a 3.0. Students are also selected based upon credit hours completed, attendance, volunteer service, and membership in other student organizations.

2020 Batavia Career and Technical Education Center NTHS Inductees

Animal Science

  • Kasey Smith, Alexander

Building Trades

  • Quinten Betances, Batavia
  • Garrett Totten, Pembroke
  • Timothy Walsh, Batavia
  • Justin Wight, Oakfield-Alabama

Criminal Justice

  • Adriana Cauthen, Pembroke
  • Will Minkel, Attica
  • Scout Seelau, Pembroke
  • Jordan Waterbury, Akron

Cosmetology

  • Delaney Ingles, Le Roy
  • Madison Masters, Le Roy
  • Rylie Merle, Alexander
  • Lilia Toland, Attica

Culinary Arts

  • Isaiah Merrell, Batavia Academy

Diesel Mechanics

  • Joshua Conrad, Attica
  • Dillon Weber, Alexander

Electro Mechanical Trades

  • Matthew Bills, Batavia
  • Devin Dean, Alexander
  • Adam Dulski, Pembroke
  • Troy Helsdon, Batavia
  • Henry Schafer, Notre Dame
  • Zachary Strzelec, Attica

Graphic Arts

  • Blake Paserk, Batavia

Health Dimensions

  • Keri Biggins, Le Roy
  • Krysta Hansen, Alexander
  • Skye Magoffin, Pembroke

Metal Trades

  • Jesse Bray, Batavia
  • Daniel Gerstiz, Attica
  • Nicole Hume, Alexander
  • Chase Pangrazio, Batavia

Programming and Interactive Media

  • Riley Atwood, Batavia
  • Dominic D’Agostino, Oakfield-Alabama
  • Quintin Konieczny, Batavia
May 28, 2020 - 3:08pm
posted by Jeanne Walton in Elba High School Class of 2020, news, covid-19.

Photo of the 20-member Class of 2020 at Elba High School, courtesy of Staci Ellingham.

Many schools are hoping to abide by tradition, while others are accepting that sometimes you need to adjust your course and start sailing in a new direction.

For the administrators at Elba Central School District (ECS), the need to adapt to the situation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic is being embraced wholeheartedly. They are planning to switch gears as necessary.

“The traditions for graduation are the same, they have stood the test of time,” said Gretchen Rosales, principal of the middles school and high school. “How do we create new traditions that are meaningful?”

Community members, concerned that this is not a traditional year for the graduates, have offered their help.

Each graduating senior has been adopted by someone in the community and they have been showered with gifts and attention.

Another generous class supporter, Lori McClurg, gifted each teenager a “swag bag,” full of cookies, cake pops, hand sanitizer, bubbles and other fun items — plus a chance for one lucky grad to win all of the sweet treats they desire for their graduation party — the lucky winner will be announced soon.

“For us this is like family, we all know each other, there is a small population and it’s rural,” Rosales said. “Everyone wants to see these teens have a great send-off.

“I am a mom of a senior myself. It is hard to watch our students miss out on the most important events in their lives so far. I have been doing my best to frame this positively…it’s a huge part of history, it’s unique.”

With the support of senior class advisor Laura Williams, district reps have worked hard to do some great things for their close-knit group of 20 graduating seniors, including a variety of individualized activities to make each graduate feel special.

They celebrated their Top 10 students by inviting them to the school driveway to share a breakfast treat with school faculty, and presented them with a Party-in-a-Bag and their “Home of a 2020 Lancer” yard sign. It advertises their big accomplishment, setting the tone for a celebration at home.

Because the district is in the process of replacing some of the school lockers this year, the seniors were allowed to decorate their locker doors for 2019-2020. They were told they could keep the door to “take a piece of their school with them,” Rosales said.

Rosales herself has gone above and beyond by spotlighting each senior on social media with their photo in front of their own personally decorated front door at home.

She and other staff members have written personalized notes with words of encouragement to the teens, while they have facilitated virtual class meetings to help keep the classmates connected.

Cap and gown picture day was made memorable with individualized sessions for each senior where formal and candid shots were taken to be shared with their families.

Each teen was asked to create a sign that “advertised their plans for next year” and Rosales intends to compile them in a video. These, too, will be by shared on social media.

As for the graduation ceremony, no plans have been confirmed.

If it is necessary to change venue, or even move the ceremony out a couple of weeks to keep everyone safe, then that is what will happen.

“It may be what we need to do … I am cognizant of the sadness that the students and their families feel right now; what is meant to be a celebratory time has become a disappointment for many," the principal said.

"As a school leader, it is important for me to honor students’ achievements while keeping them safe and healthy, and I need to carefully balance that, with the need for closure.”

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