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covid-19

September 18, 2020 - 7:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Chris Jacobs, covid-19, coronavirus, news, NY-27.

Press release:

 Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) is releasing the following statement after the announcement Thursday evening that an additional $14 billion would be committed to the Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Rep. Jacobs is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture.

“I applaud the President for his continued commitment to our nation’s farmers. With this additional $14 billion in coronavirus aid, farmers will be better equipped to weather the effects of the coronavirus and to continue to feed American families,” Jacobs said. “While this aid has helped the agriculture industry, more assistance is needed. Regrettably, Senate Democrats blocked legislation last week to provide more funding for farmers, and now Speaker Pelosi is refusing to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation that funded this additional CFAP aid. Farmers have supported our nation throughout the entirety of this pandemic, now is not the time to be playing partisan games with their livelihoods. I urge Congressional leadership to resume negotiations on a new coronavirus package and to provide the critical assistance our farmers in Western New York and across the country need.”

The $14 billion will support the second version of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2). The program was created to support growers and producers of agricultural commodities. More information and a list of eligible commodities can be found here: https://www.farmers.gov/cfap

September 18, 2020 - 6:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

New Cases – As of 2 p.m. 

  • Genesee County received two new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Byron and Le Roy.
    • Both of the positive individuals are less than 20 years old.
    • The individuals were not on quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Six new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

 

  • Orleans County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Ten new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
September 18, 2020 - 2:55pm
posted by Press Release in RSVP Volunteer Placement Program, news, covid-19, 9/11.

Submitted photo and press release:

Recently members of Genesee County’s RSVP Volunteer Placement Program delivered hundreds of nonperishable and personal care items to local food pantries. Local agencies report these donations are greatly needed due to increased demand during COVID-19. 

This service project was chosen as a way to honor 9/11 victims and those who rose in service in response to 9/11.

As so many did on 9/11, numerous individuals and organizations are helping others who are struggling during this pandemic.

RSVP wishes to thank all the volunteers, community members and local businesses for their generosity, which made this delivery possible.  

For more information on volunteer opportunities, please contact Courtney Iburi (RSVP) at (585) 343-1611.

September 18, 2020 - 2:39pm

Press release:

Washington, D.C. – President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced up to an additional $14 billion dollars for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19.

Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) will begin Sept. 21st and run through Dec. 11.

“America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump is once again demonstrating his commitment to ensure America’s farmers and ranchers remain in business to produce the food, fuel, and fiber America needs to thrive,” Secretary Perdue said. “We listened to feedback received from farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on our nations’ farms and ranches, and we developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted.”

Background:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and many additional commodities. USDA has incorporated improvements in CFAP 2 based from stakeholder engagement and public feedback to better meet the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers. 

Producers can apply for CFAP 2 at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. This program provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will be compensated for ongoing market disruptions and assisted with the associated marketing costs.

CFAP 2 payments will be made for three categories of commodities – Price Trigger Commodities, Flat-rate Crops and Sales Commodities. 

Price Trigger Commodities

Price trigger commodities are major commodities that meet a minimum 5-percent price decline over a specified period of time. Eligible price trigger crops include barley, corn, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, upland cotton, and all classes of wheat. Payments will be based on 2020 planted acres of the crop, excluding prevented planting and experimental acres. Payments for price trigger crops will be the greater of: 1) the eligible acres multiplied by a payment rate of $15 per acre; or 2) the eligible acres multiplied by a nationwide crop marketing percentage, multiplied by a crop-specific payment rate, and then by the producer’s weighted 2020 Actual Production History (APH) approved yield. If the APH is not available, 85 percent of the 2019 Agriculture Risk Coverage-County Option (ARC-CO) benchmark yield for that crop will be used.

For broilers and eggs, payments will be based on 75 percent of the producers’ 2019 production.

Dairy (cow’s milk) payments will be based on actual milk production from April 1 to Aug. 31. The milk production for Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 will be estimated by FSA. 

Eligible beef cattle, hogs and pigs, and lambs and sheep payments will be based on the maximum owned inventory of eligible livestock, excluding breeding stock, on a date selected by the producer, between Apr. 16 and Aug. 31.

Flat-rate Crops

Crops that either do not meet the 5-percent price decline trigger or do not have data available to calculate a price change will have payments calculated based on eligible 2020 acres multiplied by $15 per acre. These crops include alfalfa, extra long staple (ELS) cotton, oats, peanuts, rice, hemp, millet, mustard, safflower, sesame, triticale, rapeseed, and several others.

Sales Commodities 

Sales commodities include specialty crops; aquaculture; nursery crops and floriculture; other commodities not included in the price trigger and flat-rate categories, including tobacco; goat milk; mink (including pelts); mohair; wool; and other livestock (excluding breeding stock) not included under the price trigger category that were grown for food, fiber, fur or feathers. Payment calculations will use a sales-based approach, where producers are paid based on five payment gradations associated with their 2019 sales. 

Additional commodities are eligible in CFAP 2 that weren’t eligible in the first iteration of the program. If your agricultural operation has been impacted by the pandemic since April, we encourage you to apply for CFAP 2. A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found on farmers.gov/cfap.

Eligibility

There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits when members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. In addition, this special payment limitation provision has been expanded to include trusts and estates for both CFAP 1 and 2.

Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Applying for Assistance

Producers can apply for assistance beginning Sept. 21. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 11.

Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from farmers.gov/cfap/apply. For existing FSA customers, including those who participated in CFAP 1, many documents are likely already on file. Producers should check with FSA county office to see if any of the forms need to be updated. 

Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process can call (877) 508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages with the team at the FSA county office.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment.

Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in the office, by phone and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.   

September 17, 2020 - 4:25pm
posted by Press Release in news, coronavirus, covid-19.

Press release:

New Cases – As of 2 p.m. 

  • Genesee County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Four new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

 

  • Orleans County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Two new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
September 17, 2020 - 2:20pm

Press release:

Continuing his fight to make a college education more accessible for every New Yorker, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced a plan to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for federal student loan borrowers.

The resolution outlines how the next president should use existing executive authority under the Higher Education Act to substantially cancel student loan debt for students in New York and across the country, and ensure there is no tax liability for federal student loan borrowers resulting from administrative debt collection.

Schumer said addressing the student loan crisis will be one of the first legislative actions he will prioritize in the new 117th Congress in January.

“Millions of young New Yorkers and their families have been crushed by student loan debt greatly impeding their ability to begin careers and build the financial resources needed to build their futures,” Senator Schumer said. “For far too long the sunny, American optimism of our young people has been clouded by crippling student debt.

"Education is supposed to be a ladder up, but studies have shown that student loans hold people back and prevent young college graduates from owning homes or starting small businesses. This holds our entire economy back, which we cannot afford after the financial devastation of COVID. That is why I will prioritize student debt forgiveness in 2021, bringing immediate relief to millions of New Yorkers and boosting our economy.”

Schumer added, “The bottom line is that the cost of college is out of control and paying for it forces millions of students and families to take on crippling debt, which greatly impedes students’ ability to get started and succeed after graduation. It is like starting a long walk with a backpack stuffed with bricks. This plan to cancel student debt on federal loans will substantially lighten that load and give recent graduates a huge boost that will launch them into a much brighter future – that will energize the economy and substantially expand our dwindling middle class.”  

The senator noted that this plan will provide complete forgiveness of student loans for more than 75 percent of borrowers across the country and at least some debt forgiveness for 95 percent of people with student loan debt. This is especially good news for the nearly 2.4 million New Yorkers with outstanding student loans and a cumulative debt of $89.5 billion as of March, according to studentaid.gov.

Schumer explained that student debt cancellation can provide immediate relief to millions who are struggling during this pandemic and recession, and give a boost to our struggling economy through a consumer-driven economic stimulus that can result in greater home-buying rates and housing stability, higher college completion rates, and greater small business formation.

More than 100 community, civil rights, consumer, and student advocacy organizations have already come out in support of using executive authority to cancel student loan debt. 

Congress has already granted the Secretary of Education the legal authority to broadly cancel student debt under section 432(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1082(a)), which grants the Secretary the authority to modify, "... compromise, waive, or release any right, title, claim, lien, or demand, however acquired, including any equity or any right of redemption."

The Department of Education has reportedly used this authority to implement modest relief for federal student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The resolution aims to:

  • Recognize the Secretary of Education's broad administrative authority to cancel Federal student loan debt under the existing authorities of section 432(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1082(a));
  • Call on the President of the United States to take executive action to administratively cancel up to $50,000 in Federal student loan debt for Federal student loan borrowers using existing legal authorities under such section 432(a), and any other authorities available under the law;
  • Encourage the President of the United States, in taking such executive action, to use the executive's authority under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to ensure no tax liability for Federal student loan borrowers resulting from administrative debt cancellation;
  • Encourage the President of the United States, in taking such executive action, to ensure that administrative debt cancellation helps close racial wealth gaps and avoids the bulk of Federal student debt cancellation benefits accruing to the wealthiest borrowers; and
  • Encourage the President of the United States to continue to pause student loan payments and interest accumulation for Federal student loan borrowers for the entire duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Schumer introduced this resolution along with Senator Warren. The legislation follows their March effort to cancel student loan payments for the duration of the COVID pandemic and provide minimum $10K payoff for all Federal student loan borrowers.

September 16, 2020 - 4:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, schools, education, notify.

There are any number of reasons that a child might have the sniffles, or run a fever, or get a stomachache. But since all of these ailments are also potential symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, school districts are under instruction from the State Health Department to isolate children with these and other symptoms until its confirmed that child can't spread the disease at a school, said Rochester Regional Health Pediatrician Dr. Steven Schulz today in a Zoom conference call with reporters.

"Because of low community prevalence, there's a 99-percent chance that those symptoms are due to a different virus, that it's not COVID and that's a good thing and a good place that we're starting out with," Schulz said.

"But because we don't want COVID to spread in the schools and break out, we are being very stringent. Actually, it's the Department of Health that's been very stringent with regulations on what's required to eventually return to school."

If a child goes home with a potential COVID-19 symptom, that child can't return to school unless there is a negative COVID-19 test, and the child is again symptom-free, and a doctor has cleared the child to return to school.

The reason a child must be symptom-free even after a negative test for COVID-19, Schulz said, is because of the small percentage of COVID tests that return a false negative.

Schulz serves on the Finger Lakes Region School Reopening Task Force and is one of the people responsible for writing school reopening guidelines in the region. RRH, parent hospital group for UMMC in Batavia, sponsored today's press conference on what parents should know as their children return to school.

Possible COVID-19 symptoms that could lead to a child being kept out of school include runny nose, congestion, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, poor appetite.

"There's a whole host of conditions that can cause all of those things, not just COVID," Schulz said. "And so many kids do have chronic conditions, such as seasonal allergies that can have overlapping symptomatology."

For children with chronic conditions, a doctor can verify those conditions and letters written as needed to allow those children to return to school.

What the main focus is on, he said, is the development of new, or different, or worsening symptoms. 

"Every school district has implemented a screening protocol for students and parents to go through before that student set foot sets foot on campus If they screened positive for any of those," Schulz said. "Again, focusing on new and worsening symptoms, in particular, and those would be reasons for an evaluation with the health care provider.

"Obviously, the big one would be a fever. If a child has a fever, they certainly would need to have additional evaluation. So we, of course, would encourage families if there is any concern that their child might have symptoms that are consistent with COVID to contact their health care provider for the next steps."

If a child at a school does test positive, the Health Department will take over, conduct contact tracing, and determine if any other children were exposed and take proper precautions as necessary. If proper social distancing has been maintained and masks are worn properly, it may not be necessary to quarantine other children.

One thing parents can do to help the entire community, Schulz said, is to ensure they and their children receive a seasonal flu shot.

"It's especially important this year," Schulz said. "COVID and flu have a lot of overlapping symptoms and people can theoretically be infected with both. The concern with that is that we could overwhelm our health care system not just with COVID, but also with flu. Both together could overwhelm it even more.

"So the flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect you and others around you from getting the flu. And we are encouraging everyone to get that as early as possible this year."

September 16, 2020 - 4:24pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, news, coronavirus.

Press release:

New Cases – As of 2 p.m. 

  • Genesee County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Two of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Twenty new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
       
  • Orleans County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
  • One of the previous positive individuals has recovered and has been released from mandatory isolation.
  • Seven new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
September 16, 2020 - 2:37pm

Press release:

Continuing their tireless advocacy for New York’s hard-hit dairy farmers in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to ensure both Canada and Mexico are held accountable to their trade commitments under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which entered into force earlier this year on July 1st.

Specifically, the senators pointed out three harmful dairy trade practices, including Canada’s recent allocation of tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for U.S. exports of several categories of dairy products, Canada’s Class 7 pricing program (Class 6 in Ontario) and lack of transparency in milk-pricing regulations, and the need for Mexico to translate its USMCA commitment of safeguarding more than 30 common cheese names for American products, into regulations.

“New York’s dairy farmers are the lifeblood of the Upstate economy, but unfortunately they have been squeezed by the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis,” Senator Schumer said. “That is why I am calling on Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary Perdue to do everything in their power to ensure that Canada and Mexico abide by their dairy trade obligations, allowing Upstate New York dairy farmers to freely sell their product – as agreed to in the new trade agreement with both countries, the USMCA.

"The trade deal entered into force two months ago, and there can be no further delays to ensuring our New York dairy farmers can sell their products, unimpeded by unfair trade barriers, into Canada and Mexico and churn up profits that mitigate the huge losses they have suffered this year.”

“Dairy is New York’s primary agricultural product and our rural economies depend on the survival of the industry, but poor implementation of USMCA provisions on dairy will harm our dairy farmers and make it even harder for them to recover from this crisis,” Senator Gillibrand said. "Secretary Perdue and USTR Ambassador Lighthizer must hold our trading partners accountable and ensure equitable trading practices for America’s dairy farmers.”

Schumer and Gillibrand explained that under USMCA, Canada agreed to an expansion of tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for several categories of U.S. dairy products. However, recently, it has come to the senators’ attention that Canada’s recently-released TRQ allocations weaken the intent of the USMCA and will prevent New York dairy farmers from fully benefitting from the agreement’s expanded market access opportunities.

Additionally, the senators said that under the new trade deal, Canada agreed to eliminate Class 6 & 7 pricing within six months. However, as Schumer revealed in June, Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), which represents approximately 4,000 Canadian dairy farmers, requested that Ontario’s tribunal which provides an avenue of appeal on agriculture issues grant restricted access to DFO’s pricing regulations.

The senators argued that with only a few months left until the USMCA six-month deadline to eliminate Class 6 & 7, the lack of transparency and timing of DFO’s request  in combination with the new TRQs, raises questions about whether or not Canada is seeking to circumvent its dairy commitments in USMCA.

The senators also noted that U.S. dairy farmers secured a major victory in the USMCA when Mexico affirmed a list of more than 30 terms for cheese that would remain available as common names for U.S. cheese producers when exporting to Mexico, but with uncertainty remaining over how Mexico will translate its commitment to protect these common cheese names into regulations, U.S. dairy farmers are in danger of losing out on the market share they spent years developing.

September 16, 2020 - 2:07pm

Public Notice

Town of Batavia State of Emergency Declaration

A State of Emergency was declared in the TOWN OF BATAVIA, effective at 6 p.m. on Sept. 14, 2020.

This State of Emergency has been declared due to the existing and continuing declared States of Emergency at the Federal, State, County, and City of Batavia, related to the COVID-19 virus.

This situation threatens the public safety.

This State of Emergency will remain in effect for 30 days or until rescinded by a subsequent order.

As the Chief Executive of TOWN OF BATAVIA, County of Genesee, State of New York, I, Gregory H. Post, exercise the authority given me under Section 24 of the New York State Executive Law, to preserve the public safety and hereby render all required and available assistance vital to the security, well-being, and health of the citizens of this Municipality.

I hereby direct all departments and agencies of TOWN OF BATAVIA to take whatever steps necessary to protect life and property, public infrastructure, and provide such emergency assistance deemed necessary.

Gregory H. Post,

Town of Batavia Supervisor

Sept. 14, 2020

September 16, 2020 - 2:07pm

Public Notice

Town of Batavia State of Emergency Declaration

A State of Emergency was declared in the TOWN OF BATAVIA, effective at 6 p.m. on Sept. 14, 2020.

This State of Emergency has been declared due to the existing and continuing declared States of Emergency at the Federal, State, County, and City of Batavia, related to the COVID-19 virus.

This situation threatens the public safety.

This State of Emergency will remain in effect for 30 days or until rescinded by a subsequent order.

As the Chief Executive of TOWN OF BATAVIA, County of Genesee, State of New York, I, Gregory H. Post, exercise the authority given me under Section 24 of the New York State Executive Law, to preserve the public safety and hereby render all required and available assistance vital to the security, well-being, and health of the citizens of this Municipality.

I hereby direct all departments and agencies of TOWN OF BATAVIA to take whatever steps necessary to protect life and property, public infrastructure, and provide such emergency assistance deemed necessary.

Gregory H. Post,

Town of Batavia Supervisor

Sept. 14, 2020

September 16, 2020 - 1:16pm
posted by Press Release in HEAP 2021, GC Office for the Aging, covid-19, news.

From the GC Office for the Aging:

Each year, Office for the Aging assists older adults with their applications for HEAP -- Home Energy Assistance Program.

If you received your preprinted application in the mail for the 2020-2021 season, please send it to Office for the Aging at 2 Bank St., Batavia, NY 14020.

It is important to include all current income information and year-to-date interest and dividends earned on any accounts.

If you have specific questions about your application, please call (585) 343-1611 for assistance.

Due to COVID-19, we are not able to meet with walk-ins.

September 15, 2020 - 4:00pm
posted by Press Release in news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15:

  • Genesee County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
      • One of the previous positive individuals has recovered and has been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Seven new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

  • Received one new positive case of COVID-19.
      • The new positive individual resides in Clarendon
      • The individual is in their 50s
      • The individual was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
      • One of the previous positive individuals has recovered and has been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Twelve new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
September 14, 2020 - 6:08pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Press release:

New Cases – As of 2 p.m. 

  • Genesee County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • One of the previous positive individuals has recovered and has been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Four new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
       
  • Orleans County received one new positive case of COVID-19.
    • The new positive resides in Albion.
    • The individual is in their 50s.
    • The individual was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Two of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.

Seventeen new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

September 13, 2020 - 8:00am
posted by David Reilly in news, batavia, history, education, nostalgia, covid-19, St. Mary's School.

After attending school (elementary, high school and college) for 18 years and teaching school (fifth and sixth grades) for another 33, I have been a part of opening day 51 times. And that doesn't include the overlapping times when my own two children headed back to their educational journeys.

But nothing in all that time is going to compare what the beginning of this school year will be like due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Taking temperatures, wearing masks, social distancing, plexiglass separating panels, lots of sanitizing, and a whole lot more that teachers and students are going to face including some days at school and other days virtually, all because of COVID-19.

I have never regretted being retired, but I am even more happy about it this year and convey my best wishes to all those who will try their best to make the 2020-2021 academic year a productive one.

Back in the 1950s at St. Mary's School in Batavia, we certainly had a less worrisome time when our summer vacation ended. Some preparations had to be made, but nothing approaching what parents and kids have to do now, even before the virus.

Bow Ties and Buster Browns

There was no fretting about what to wear to impress our classmates. We had uniforms, so each kid looked as plain and mundane as every other one. For the girls, it was a light blue blouse with a dark blue skirt, and the boys wore a light blue long or short sleeve shirt with dark blue pants. The pièce de résistance for the boys was a blue clip-on bow tie. If I had a nickel for every one of those I lost I could have bought a lot of Junior Mints.

I'm pretty sure that the school had a deal with Charles Mens' Shop (which is still in business) to stock the uniforms and each year my mom would buy me two shirts and two pairs of pants. Between roughhousing on the way to and from school and outdoors at lunchtime, by June those pants would have been patched more times than a pothole at Ellicott and Main.

When it came to shoes, things were pretty simple. We'd head to Thomas and Dwyer's Downtown and Mr. Dwyer or Skinny Weiss would find a new pair of Buster Brown's in our size. We hated those goofy-looking round-toed things, but Mom was paying so that's what you got. The girls would arrive on day one with new saddle shoes or Mary Janes. I don't think sneakers were allowed.

Lunch Box and Lunchroom

In the '50s we didn't have backpacks, but choosing your lunchbox was a big deal. This was before everything was plastic and they were made from metal and most contained a Thermos.

Howdy Doody ones were a favorite of the younger kids, while the older boys wanted Davy Crockett or The Lone Ranger. By the way, those metal boxes could come in handy if you had to defend yourself from a bully.

During the first couple years of St. Mary's existence we were housed in the basement of adjoining Notre Dame High because the elementary school was still under construction. Once we got in the new building our lunch habits changed because we had a school lunchroom.

Mrs. Isabelle Suranni, who was a chef at various restaurants in the area, prepared the food right on the premises. Unlike most other lunchroom food I encountered over the years St. Mary's was tasty, especially the spaghetti. My mom worked in the kitchen for a couple of years and whenever spaghetti was served she'd bring some home for dinner.

So, that was about it -- uniform, shoes, lunchbox. Maybe a couple pencils and a box of eight crayola crayons. There was no list sent home of all the things the parents needed to buy.

As far as teacher preparations that were made for school's opening, it was certainly a big deal for me when I was teaching. We'd head back to our classrooms a week or two early to get the classroom ready. Desks were arranged, bulletin boards decorated, name tags made, lessons prepared, and so on.

'Convent'-ional Classroom

For seven of my eight elementary school years, my teacher was a nun -- a Sister of the Holy Cross (inset photo below right from the 1950s). I don't know how many of them had formal teacher training but I'd guess not many.

I could be cynical and surmise that the nuns spent their summer sanding and honing their rulers and yardsticks to use on us little delinquents.

But, since most Catholic schools had 40-50 students in a class, more likely they were catching their breath and recuperating from the previous semester.

Maybe they had nun spas where they would go to get refreshed. Probably not.

I don't recall much about bulletin boards or decorations, but with 50 desks there probably wasn't room for any. There were always a bunch of strategically placed statues though. Some saint was always looking over your shoulder when you were about to launch that spitball.

A Long Year Ahead

I can't imagine having more than 30 kids in a class, but it must have given the nuns some preopening day anxiety. Actually, I could identify with that feeling somewhat because my very first teaching job after graduating from college in 1969 was in a Catholic school, Sts. Peter and Paul in Rochester.

I was also similar to the nuns in that I really didn't have much preparation for teaching. I had, quite honestly, taken the job in order to secure a deferment from the military draft. I had only taken a couple education classes at St. John Fisher and never did any student teaching. Essentially, I was winging it.

My very first day I started out by handing out index cards to my sixth-graders and asking them to write down their name, address, phone number, and parents' names. I had a boy in the class who was from Lebanon named Toufik. 

As I circulated around he raised his hand. “Yes, Toufik,” I said. “How can I help you?”

“Mister,” he replied. “How do you make a T?”

“Oh boy,” I thought. “What have I gotten myself into?

First Days

Only two of my St. Mary's opening days stand out in my memory of boyhood, both of which I mentioned in a previous story.

In first grade, school started on a Wednesday, but because I had strep throat, I didn't arrive until the following Monday. I was a shy kid so I was probably terrified to come in on my own.

A boy named Lenny, the briefest of classmates, had the absolute greatest opening day entrance in my 51 years when he showed up with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and promptly got expelled. There was an ad at the time which said, “I'd walk a mile for a Camel.” Lenny only got to walk about 50 feet before the black-habited arm of a nun whisked him off the premises forever.

On my first opening day after retiring, I took my boat and went fishing. On the first opening day of my longtime girlfriend's retirement, we took a day trip to the pretty little Finger Lakes Town of Skaneatles.

What will we do on the first day of school this year? I'm not sure except that it won't involve little kids. Or nuns.

Photos and images courtesy of Dave Reilly.

September 12, 2020 - 7:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, video, batavia.
Video Sponsor

A group of area residents gathered in front of City Hall carrying signs today protesting the lack of visitation with seniors in nursing homes.

September 11, 2020 - 8:26pm
posted by Press Release in news, coronavirus, covid-19.

Press release:

New Cases – As of 2 p.m. 

  • Genesee County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Three of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Twelve new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
       
  • Orleans County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Six new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the positive individuals is hospitalized.
September 10, 2020 - 4:22pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Press release:

New Cases – As of 2 p.m. 

  • Genesee County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Twenty-five new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • Two of the positive individuals are hospitalized.
       
  • Orleans County received two new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Both of the community positive cases reside in Gaines.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 30s and one individual is in their 50s.
    • Both of the community positive individuals were not on quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Five new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the positive individuals is hospitalized.
September 10, 2020 - 1:03pm

Press release:

The Le Roy Village Green Residential Healthcare Facility has begun limited in-person visits by families and friends.

“We are immensely pleased to have reached this major milestone," said Samantha Vagg, administrator of Le Roy Village Green. "Our health care heroes worked very hard to comply with all the necessary New York State, CDC and county health department requirements in order to offer limited visits.

"The visits have delighted our families and raised the spirits of our residents. Everyone is so excited to see their loved ones again.”

The in-person outdoor visits began July 28 and they are allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Appointments can be made for 30-minute increments and they are limited to two visitors.

No visitation will take place in resident rooms except for medical necessity or end-of-life services. Le Roy Village Green recognizes that some residents and their families may wish to continue safer forms of visitation such as online chats, which will continue.

New York health officials banned outside visitors to nursing homes on March 13 as part of an effort to contain the coronavirus. Early in the ban, LeRoy Village Green offered virtual visits on tablets.

In July, state health officials announced that nursing homes could resume in-person visits if they met a number of criteria, such as remaining without COVID-19 for at least 28 days, a threshold set by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In-person visitors must adhere to multiple health precautions.

“This resumption of limited visits does not mean that we are relaxing our precautions in any way," Vagg said. "Our staff will continue to follow rigorous safety protocols and all visitors will be required to do so as well."

Rules for in-person visits include:

  • Face masks covering both nose and mouth for residents and visitors, as well as social distancing of six feet. No touching of residents, hand shaking or hugging is allowed;
  • Visitors may be required to use hand sanitizer, wear additional personal protective equipment and they will be instructed on good hygiene prior to a visit;
  • No resident can have more than two visitors at a time;
  • Minors under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult;
  • Screening of visitors includes a temperature check, health questions and travel questions. Le Roy Village Green will maintain records of the screenings.

All visitation areas will be cleaned and disinfected after each use, using an EPA approved disinfectant. Any resident in a 14-day quarantine or observation period will not be allowed visitors, except for end-of-life visits. Non-medical appointments are still prohibited.

September 9, 2020 - 4:58pm
posted by Press Release in news, coronavirus, covid-19, batavia.

Press release:

New Cases – As of 2 p.m. 

  • Genesee County received two new positive case of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Batavia.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 50s and one individual is in their 90s.
    • One of the individuals was not on quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Three of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Two new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states. 
    • One of the positive individuals is hospitalized.
       
  • Orleans County received one new positive case of COVID-19.
    • One of the community positive cases resides in Gaines.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 60s.
    • The community positive individual was not on quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Eight new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

One of the positive individuals is hospitalized.

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