July 10, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,
I hope the summer finds you well and you have been able to take some time to relax and enjoy Vermont’s numerous natural areas. I wanted to take a moment to share several updates with you regarding draft plans for reopening our schools this fall as well as information around the budget re-vote.
I have been collaborating closely with my fellow Champlain Valley Superintendents to develop a plan for safely reopening our schools. The plan is being developed now and updates will be forthcoming. I do know that we will need to be able to transition easily between in person and distance learning instruction. I will continue to base decisions on information that comes from state and national health experts as well as the guidance provided by the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE).
At the District level, a task force comprised of Administrators, representatives from Nutrition Services, Human Resources, Facilities, Operations, School Nurses, Teachers, and IT have been meeting to discuss recommendations as they emerge. Individual schools also have their own, smaller task forces.These groups can best be described as “think tanks,”where questions and concerns can be brought forth and worked through as a group.
Also, in an effort to gather more information around the comfort level of our families and staff on returning to in person instruction (and related concerns), surveys will be sent to both families and school staff. The results will continue to guide our path forward.
In addition, at the July 8 school board meeting, I gave a broad brush overview of the draft reopening plan which you can listen to via RETN. At the July 15 board meeting, I will be sharing more details of this draft plan. Our goal is to present/share our plan at the beginning of August. Much more to follow.
The FY21 revised, proposed budget re-vote is scheduled to coincide with the Vermont state primary August 11. While all regular polling locations are scheduled to be open (with health and safety precautions in place), we are encouraging the use of absentee ballots. The Vermont Secretary of State has mailed postcards to all registered voters for the state primary regardless of whether or not a ballot had already been requested. This can be filled out and returned to the City Clerk and if you would also like the ballot for the budget re-vote, you can write “school” anywhere on the postcard to request it. A ballot can also be requested via the Secretary of State’s My Vote page. Please note that school budget and state primary ballots will be mailed separately and that the school ballot is not ready yet. The City Clerk needs to print the ballots once the school board approves the amount which will add up to 7 days after the approval date. You can review the latest, proposed budget information on our District website and listen to the conversation from the July 8 board meeting via RETN. The school board will hold a special meeting July 15 with action warned to approve the revised FY21 budget.
Our nutrition services and transportation staff continue to do an amazing job delivering healthy, free meals to all students ages 18 and under. As of July 1, the team began providing meal delivery only by bus (no on site pickup) and they are currently delivering 1200 meals per day. The program will end August 16 to give staff time to regroup before the new school year begins.
One aspect of the plan I want to be sure parents/guardians begin preparing for is the requirement that masks be worn by students and staff in our school buildings and on our buses. We realize that this will require an adjustment for everyone, but I am reassured by how well this is working at our School’s Out summer program..
Keep your eyes open for weekly updates as plans around our reopening continue to take shape. While there are many unknowns, you can be reassured knowing that our District and regional teams are working through the best guidance available. Thank you for your continued flexibility and understanding.