Updated Plans for Fall 2020

Dear Holy Cross Community,

Over the past several weeks, we have continued to define our school plans for a safe reopening this September. We formed 5 taskforce groups, made up of faculty and staff, to study the feasibility of our reopening. The groups studied within State preliminary guidelines, three pathways to opening the school: Face to Face, Hybrid, and Distance Learning. Each of these three scenarios was evaluated by each of the 5 task force groups; Logistics, Curriculum & Instruction, Community, Catholic Identity, and Technology. The taskforce groups carefully outlined and addressed the needs, concerns, and strengths of each plan. I am extremely thankful to the 30 faculty and staff members who gave of their time to help the institution create the Reopening Plan which will be sent to the State for review and approval.

Our priorities for reopening remain centered on two critical concepts:

  • Protecting the health, safety and well-being of our community
  • Upholding our mission to educate the hearts and minds of our students

On July 13th, New York State released its official guidance on the reopening of schools for September 2020 and we are waiting for confirmation on our compliance with the state’s expectations which should be announced August 1-7, 2020.

We are pleased to share with you the following plans for fall.

These plans build layers of safety for our students, faculty and staff, offering the most effective approach for reducing risk to our school community.

Our team has implemented a variety of modifications to assist in safeguarding our school community’s health and well-being, should the State recommend in-person classroom instruction, including the following:

  • Student capacity will be reduced by 50 percent to support social distancing utilizing the hybrid model which students would rotate between in-person instruction and remote learning.
  • Students will be required to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan Agreement, including a commitment to follow all safety guidelines.
  • Students will be required to complete an at-home wellness check survey each morning prior to leaving for school. We will share more details about the testing process in the weeks ahead.
  • Visitors will be restricted to ensure that exposure risks are minimized.
  • Face masks will be required and students should maintain proper social distancing.

With your health, safety and well-being in mind, we anticipate the following necessary precautions as daily requirements this fall:

  • Daily symptom monitoring: Through SchoolPass you will be required to complete a short series of questions daily to monitor your health and any possible symptoms of being unwell. Your responses will be kept confidential, and will only prompt a private follow-up from the school nurse if a risk is identified.

Preventive safety measures:

Social distancing: Six feet of distance must be maintained at all times. In instances where this distance may not be feasible, face masks or coverings will be required. Additionally, group gatherings, including events and meetings, are encouraged to be held virtually. Necessary in-person gatherings may not exceed size restrictions provided by state guidelines, which may evolve and will be monitored and updated as needed.

Face masks or coverings: Face masks or coverings must be worn by all individuals on campus, in the presence of others and in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., common workspaces, meeting rooms, classrooms, hallways, lobbies, etc.).

Hygiene guidelines: Handwashing, sanitizer stations and frequent disinfecting of campus spaces will remain critical components of our fall return.

Precautionary tracking: The Medical Office will work with our local Department of Health, which will provide trained contact tracers, minimizing the risk of any rapid spread of illness. In the event that a positive case of COVID-19 surfaces within our community, rapid contact tracing will allow for timely notification and immediate self-quarantine of those exposed to the virus. In accordance with health privacy laws, only potentially exposed individuals will be contacted by tracers as needed.

Modifications to the Cafeteria

To ensure social distancing, we will be adjusting our cafeteria services to accommodate enhanced grab-and-go options and socially distant seating. We do expect the following modifications:

  • Redesigned seating layouts and capacity restrictions
  • Increased grab-and-go options
  • Cleaning and sanitizing of tables after each use

Student Experience

We anticipate a hybrid of student life offerings this fall, including both in-person and virtual events, activities, clubs, and organizations for students.

In order to ensure proper health and safety protocols are met, you can expect the following:

  • Gatherings will be limited in size to abide by State regulations, and may be reduced further for added protection.
  • Virtual meetings and events will be encouraged this fall.
  • Proper social distancing of six feet will be required at all times.
  • Protective face masks and coverings will be required of all participants during events and meetings.

Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

Maintenance routines will include enhanced daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols, based on CDC and New York State Department of Health guidelines. Cleanings will take place with increased frequency for classrooms, common areas, high-touch surfaces, offices and workspaces. In addition, the following can be expected:

  • Our Maintenance team will maintain hand sanitizer stations at building entrances, elevator stops and high-traffic areas.
  • All faculty, staff and students will be encouraged to wipe down commonly used surfaces before individual use with readily available products that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for use against COVID-19 and are appropriate for the surface.

Things You’ll Notice

This September, you’ll notice a number of changes designed to protect the health of our school. We’re planning for the following adjustments this fall:

  • Six-foot distance markers, to help everyone follow social distancing protocol
  • One-way directional signage in walkways and stairways, to minimize close contact in confined spaces, at select locations
  • Hand sanitizer will be readily available
  • Important safety signage, to remind our community of recommended hygiene practices and the importance of symptom checking

Personal Responsibility for the Community

These changes will require difficult but necessary adjustments in personal behavior and responsibility. The policies shared here and those still to come will help us maintain a safe learning and working environment for all students and employees.

We expect that all community members will:

  • Wear a face mask or covering at all times when in public spaces and unable to social distance from others.
  • Maintain physical social distancing of six feet or more, whenever possible.
  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Ensure regular use of hand sanitizer in between hand washings.
  • Cover one’s mouth and nose if coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid participation in gatherings larger than stated guidelines and where social distancing cannot be maintained.

In order to ensure the safeguarding of our health and that of all our Holy Cross members, it is up to each of us to engage in appropriate health and safety measures. We will monitor the latest research and best public health practices and adjust our plans when needed.

As we adapt to these new realities and prepare for possible unknowns that lie ahead, we will continue to take a thoughtful approach to problem-solving. Your input and questions are welcomed at Learning@myhchs.org. If for medical reasons you are in need of additional considerations, please reach out to me.

I look forward to safely being on campus in September and will continue to update you in the weeks ahead.

Ave Crux, Spes Unica

Edward Burns

September 2020

The world we live in today looks drastically different than the one we knew just a few weeks ago.

This transition has not been easy, and some members of our community have been more impacted than others. First responders find themselves on the frontline every day and communities realize which workers are truly essential. Graduates at all levels are deprived of the ceremonies their academic achievements deserve, while other families find themselves confronted with unexpected loss.
These challenges can make it difficult to remain hopeful, but it is more important than ever that we look to the future!

Holy Cross High School intends to open our campus in September to the members of the Class of 2024, and welcome back the current students that we have all missed so much. Our school has prepared several strategic plans to provide in-person instruction as we anticipate what health challenges our community may face next year. Through sound leadership and guidance, our administration remains prepared for the future.

The benefits of a Holy Cross education extend beyond the brick and mortar of our building. Our talented faculty, through exceptional pedagogical practices and technological mastery, was instrumental in our successful and smooth transition to distance learning this spring. If a brief and temporary pivot to remote learning is required in the future, Holy Cross is committed to providing asynchronous lessons supported with live instruction for all students. The quality of a Holy Cross education remains as sound and exceptional as it has since we opened our doors over 70 years ago.
While we must follow the guidance issued by New York State, we remain confident that the qualities that make Holy Cross so special, from our personalized approach to learning and our intimate class sizes, place us in an exclusive position to continue the mission of educating the hearts and minds of young men and women regardless of what the future holds.

Ave Crux, Spes Unica

Michael R. Truesdell

Edward Burns

Letter from Principal Burns – 5/4/20

Celebrating Our Teachers

“Zeal is the great desire to make God known, loved, and served, and thus to bring knowledge of salvation to others. . . . Teachers who possess it fulfill the duties of their profession with enthusiasm, love, courage, and perseverance.”

— Bl. Basil Moreau, Christian Education

Dear Holy Cross Families,

By now, we have all learned of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s decision that all elementary and secondary schools shall remain closed for the duration of the current 2019-2020 school year, as New York continues efforts to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. As such, the Catholic High Schools of the Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes Holy Cross High School, will remain closed through the end of June. The distance and digital learning platforms in place will serve as the instructional program for our school for the remainder of this academic year.

I am very proud of our school which successfully transitioned to a distance and digital learning platform almost immediately upon the governor’s order to close all school buildings. This would not have been possible without the hard work of our teachers and the leadership of our dedicated administration, who rose to this enormous challenge. Our school has continued to provide each of our students with a faith-based academic program, ensuring that they are being challenged to learn every day. Our parents have also contributed immeasurably to the success of this new digital learning environment.

We will be working with our seniors and their families to ensure that the milestone celebrations will be honored and recognized. As we have done so far during this pandemic, we will continue to share resources for our families as we confront this challenging end to the school year.

The Coronavirus statistics indicate that both Brooklyn and Queens have been the hardest-hit areas in New York City and State. As a Catholic school community in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to pray for everyone’s health and safety. Our faith, love, and hope remain central to all we do now and in the future.

Edward Burns

Letter from Principal Burns – 4/18/20

Dear Holy Cross Families,

As we continue our distance learning, I want to thank everyone who participated in Mrs. Burchik’s “Great Easter Egg Challenge”. The photo submissions are great; they have definitely brightened up the distance learning page! Please keep submitting your photos as you participate in Service Learning Opportunities and for the Spirit Week challenges that are underway this week.

Students, don’t forget how important your daily routine should be for school. Everyday you must check the Distance Learning Page and complete the following:

  • Daily Attendance (you must be signed in on your device with your myhchs account)
  • Daily Prayer
  • Read & Review the following:
  • Announcement/Reminders
    • Service Learning
    • Guidance Connection
    • Clubs & Activities
    • Fitness
  • Check your Holy Cross email account every day.
  • Log into Google Classroom and start your daily lessons & assignments
  • Don’t forget to participate in “Office Hours/ Google Meeting” with your teachers. This is your opportunity to engage directly with your teachers in order to receive assistance and support for understanding core concepts and related skills.

On Monday April 6, 2020, the State announced that high school Regents exams have been canceled. All students will be granted a waiver for all exams they were scheduled to take in June. This waiver will treat these exams as passed for the purpose of meeting graduation requirements. If you have specific questions related to Regents exams, please reach out to academics@myhchs.org.

On Thursday, April 16, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced that the extension of the NY Pause order will stay in effect through May 15th. During this extended period of time, we will continue to engage in remote learning as we practice social distancing so that everyone in our school communities can remain safe.

Seniors, I will be sending out a survey to help us plan commencement activities.

I will continue to keep you updated. Stay safe. God bless you all.

Edward Burns

Letter from Principal Burns – 4/3/20

April 3, 2020

I hope this message finds you and your families well and safe. Congratulations to the student body on the commitment to their academics success for the 3rd Quarter. During these difficult times it is important not to lose your focus and let your academic progress slide. Keep up the good work!

I share with you a prayer that was used at this week’s Principals and Presidents Zoom meeting for the Holy Cross Institute. I found that it brought me comfort.

Let us pray:

O God, we know that you are with us; nothing that has happened, nothing still to come, can rob us of our hope in you. Sustain us, we beg you, during this time of uncertainty. Bless all the emergency and medical personnel who are caring for the sick and working to contain the outbreak.

Grant swift recovery to those who are affected and comfort to their families and loved ones. Encourage those who are afraid. Bind us now, more than ever, to you and to each other, so that we may triumph by the power of him who loves us, our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.


Thank you for your continued cooperation and support.

Edward Burns

Letter from Principal Burns – 3/24/20

Dear Holy Cross Families,

Our mission remains the same, whether we make it happen on Francis Lewis Boulevard or online. We are here to cultivate and inspire the hearts and minds of our students, and we are more dedicated than ever to continuing this work during this time. As we continue our distance learning this week for our students, let’s remember to bring hope during this challenging time. Let us pray for each other and especially for all of those who need our prayers. Take good care of yourselves and your families, and together we will ensure the wellness and success of all of our Holy Cross Community.

With gratitude for your support,
Edward Burns

Letter from Principal Burns – 3/16/20

March 16, 2020

Dear Holy Cross Families,

For the health and safety of the Holy Cross community, the campus will be closed for all students and families until Monday, April 20th, 2020. During this closure, school administration will continue to remain available to answer questions.

Distance learning commences tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17th, 2020. We will be following the regular school “cycle” as posted in PowerSchool and on our website. If your student needs to pick up necessary supplies, they may do so tomorrow between 9am and 11am.

There are responsibilities on the part of parents and students that need to be met:

Chromebooks and other educational materials should be at home. Families need to be sure they have a way to access the Internet.
Students must be sure to check for work each morning and again throughout the day. Students will not be required to log in at a particular time to engage in learning activities. However, teachers will be setting deadlines for assignments to be submitted.
Teachers will have clear lines of communication with students which include Gmail and Google classroom. Teachers will be monitoring these platforms during regular school hours. Students should reach out to the teacher if they have any questions.
Parents and Students have access to their assigned counselors through Holy Cross gmail; mkelleher@myhchs.org, amanta@myhchs.org, cprete@myhchs.org. Our Guidance Assistant is also available to assist you mschillinger@myhchs.org.

We will continue to update you as we receive information. HolyCrossHS.org will be updated daily with information and resources to assist students to engage in the digital learning environment. Please be proactive in monitoring school communications.

I appreciate your understanding during this difficult time,

Edward Burns, Principal

Letter from Principal Burns – March 13, 2020

March 13, 2020

Dear Holy Cross Families,

Thank you for your support as we navigate the current situation with regard to COVID-19. We continue to pray for all those affected worldwide and for all those on the frontlines of the fight.

Although we still have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 virus in the building, the administration has determined the most responsible decision for the health and safety of the Holy Cross community is to close for the week of March 16-20th. We will commence our distance learning on Tuesday, March 17th. Campus will be temporarily opened on Monday, March 16th, from 8:30 – 11:30 AM for any student who needs to collect books and materials.

Understand that this situation is fluid. We will continue to update you as we receive information. We will use our Holy Cross Gmail system, as well as post information on our website and social media, when necessary. Please be proactive in monitoring school communications.

I appreciate your understanding during this difficult time,

Edward Burns

Letter from Principal Burns – March 12, 2020

March 12, 2020

Dear Holy Cross Community,

As of this time there has not been a single confirmed case of COVID-19 at Holy Cross High school. My primary focus for everyone is to remain “prepared and calm.” As we continue to monitor and follow the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], the New York State Department of Health [NYSDOH], and the New York State Education Department [NYSED]. I share with you all the following. It is important to stay with the facts and not get caught up in rumors. Guidelines provided by NYSDOH would require the school to close for a 24 hour period to clean and sanitize and to determine if a longer closure is warranted. Closure will be a rapid response to mitigate an actual health threat and thus would likely occur without advanced notice.

We are taking preventative measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. We are advising all students and faculty to stay home if sick. We have posted signage provided by the CDC and NYS Department of Health to promote hygiene and proper handwashing. We have incorporated daily video reminders into our morning news announcements regarding protocols to keep oneself healthy. We have held refresher workshops on Google Classroom and distance learning should we need to move to that model of instruction. Our school custodial staff continues the daily and rigorous cleaning routines in order to promote a clean and sanitary environment for all members of our school population. We are canceling or postponing events such as Pi Day, service trips, Shamrock Bingo, and the Doo Wop event. All spring sports have been postponed through March 30th.

At last evening’s meeting of the Board of Directors, Mr. Michael Donohue, Chair of the English Department, conducted one of his regular classes via Distance Learning across the Google Classroom platform. The board members were very impressed with the class and the use of technology that is now core to all our students’ course work. Mr. Donohue shared examples of class discussion, review activities, assessments and homework assignments.

In the event of a closure, Holy Cross will move to a distance learning model in order to ensure continuity of instruction. The Google Classroom platform provides a digital learning space which students are already comfortable navigating. We are making you aware in advance of your child’s ability to move seamlessly from in-person classroom environment to an at-home interaction with teachers and classmates through Google Classroom.

There are responsibilities on the part of parents and students that need to be met.

  • Chromebooks should be brought home every night. Families need to be sure they have a way to access the Internet.
  • Students will be expected to keep up with work posted to Google Classroom. Lessons will have both instructional and assessment components.
  • Students must be sure to check for work each morning and again throughout the day. Students will not be required to log in at a particular time to engage in learning activities.  However, teachers will be setting deadlines for assignments to be submitted.
  • Teachers will be expected to have clear lines of communication with students.  These include Gmail and Google classroom. Teachers will be monitoring these platforms during regular school hours. Students should reach out to the teacher if they have any questions.
  • Please note that the student can log onto any computer with their school gmail account and access Google Classroom.

Please continue to monitor our Website for updates. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Be well. God bless!


Edward Burns

March 3, 2020

March 03, 2020

Dear Holy Cross HS Community,

Today in the news we received information about two schools located in the Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale that closed after a suspected case of the coronavirus COVID-19 in their local community. This was a precautionary measure following the guidelines from the New York City Department of Health. You can read the full article here.

As the complexity of this situation continues to unfold, Holy Cross High School stands committed to keeping the environment safe for our entire school community. In the event that school closures are ordered by the New York City Department of Health, our students’ education will not be negatively affected. As a Google School, our faculty and students are already proficient with Google Classroom and the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) as part of their daily learning. Our 1:1 Chromebook Program guarantees that all students have the resources required for digital instruction. As a result, any temporarily required transition to Distance Learning would be seamless.

Additionally, our school custodial staff continues the daily and rigorous cleaning routines in order to promote a clean and sanitary place for all members of our school population.

The NYC Department of Education website post updates regarding the Coronavirus, most recently stating:

“There are no plans to close schools at this time. This is an extreme measure that can be disruptive to day-to-day life, and the decision to implement will be at the direction of public health experts.”

All New Yorkers should continue to practice general flu prevention measures including:

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Get your flu shot – it’s never too late
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick. Call your doctor and let them know your symptoms and travel history.

The Administration at Holy Cross will continue to clearly communicate with our school community about our ongoing efforts regarding the coronavirus.

Edward Burns