May 8, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,
As we continue to navigate this time as a school community, I wanted to share appreciation for the amazing work happening throughout our District while also recognizing the stress on parents/guardians and staff as they balance their own professional work with their children’s online learning. I wanted to emphasize, among my updates in this letter, the importance of “taking care.” Caring for one another.
I continue to be proud of and humbled by the ways in which our students, staff, and community have come together to support one another and create connections. I have been inspired by Orchard Art Teacher Sue Mowrer Adamson who has been keeping students engaged through art projects in her own front yard and was featured on the local news. Chamberlin School organized a gratitude parade May 6 where staff drove bus routes in their individual cars waving signs and honking horns to show their students how much they have been missed.
At FHTMS, Chris Johnstone and Amy Blauvelt launched a website designed to keep students and families connected including links to fun activities to do solo or as a family. A link to issues of The Daily Den, a digital newspaper created by Carol McNair can also be found on the “school closure hub.” Rick Marcotte Central School staff miss their students too, so music teacher Erika Rito compiled this video which has been shared widely. At SBHS, senior Anna Borrazzo mobilized fellow students to create this beautiful video thanking their personal heroes who have made sacrifices during this pandemic. In addition, members of the SBHS National Honor Society recently gave back to the community by participating in the virtual COTS Walk, raising over $1,000. Finally, two students in SBHS’s Big Picture Program, Delilah Kramer and Samantha Aikman have launched an art project: A Collection of Capturings, which is open to all students in grades K-12 and is designed to capture the experience of COVID-19 from a student perspective. The deadline for submissions is May 27.
Voting on the revised proposed FY21 budget is still on track to occur May 28. Please see the latest information in a note from City Clerk Donna Kinville here. Even though our regular polling locations are planning to be open, we are strongly encouraging that people request absentee ballots through the My Voter page on the Vermont Secretary of State’s website. As of this writing, Donna Kinville has reported that ballots should be ready to go out by Monday, May 11th. You can find more information about the revised proposed FY21 budget here.
Spring Sports Decision
Given the Governor’s directive that all schools remain closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year, we were uncertain if spring sports would be able to continue in any form. We know how important sports, like all of our co-curriculars, are to mental, emotional, and physical well being. Therefore, it was with sadness that we received the official decision from the VPA April 30 that the spring season would not occur. We are so proud of all of our student athletes and hope you will continue your athletic pursuits safely through the spring and summer in hope of a return to some form of athletic participation in the fall.
End of Year Updates
Our school calendar remains in play with the last day of school being June 12. At Governor Scott’s May 8 press conference Education Secretary Dan French noted that large (over ten individuals), in-person gatherings cannot safely occur at this time. French noted that graduations and other close of school year celebrations should occur virtually and encouraged communities to plan creatively and, most importantly, ensure equal access to these events. I, along with our administrative team, have been involved in options planning, particularly around graduation and will report out on these decisions as soon as they have been solidified. I am sure you are also wondering about the next school year and plans for 2020-21. As you can imagine, there are many variables to consider and we will do our best to communicate the next steps as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.
May: Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The World Health Organization reminds us, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Mental health is an integral part of this definition.” We hope you will join us in exploring mental health resources from the Vermont Department of Mental Health here as well as those our staff put together on our school website here.
Updates from Governor
On Wednesday, May 6, Governor Scott issued an addendum to his previous executive order, easing some gathering restrictions (further information is available here). This news is hopeful as well as an opportunity for us to remember that continued vigilance is key to keeping coronavirus under control. Mask wearing and physical distancing remain important as ways to show respect for one another and keep one another safe.(As a gentle reminder, guidelines for safety from the Vermont Department of Health are here.)
Thank you for reading, be well, and never hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.