July 31, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,
The beautiful summer weather has continued this week and I hope you are getting out to enjoy as much of it as possible. During these challenging times, taking a moment to enjoy our outdoor spaces can help ground us in many ways. This week, we as a District continued our work toward school reopening, with a pivot toward the new start date for schools as outlined by Governor Phil Scott. Please see more on this, our reopening plans, and the upcoming budget vote below.
School Reopening: Start Date Delayed
Governor Phil Scott signed an executive order July 29 delaying the start of school from August 26 to September 8. We have decided that we will be starting the school year at Step II, the hybrid model I described in my July 22 letter to families. We recognize there are many questions around school reopening and will be using multiple avenues to communicate with families and staff as information becomes available. These include e-mail, our District website, and individual school principals’ communications. At the high school level, Principal Patrick Burke has begun holding regular Q and A sessions around reopening @sbhsvt instagram you can also access links to the webinars here.
How Classes will be Split in this Model
SBSD Hybrid (Step II) finds students placed in cohorts, with two days of in person learning and three days of remote learning. The District needs to do this for health and safety reasons. The cohort splits are based on the last name of a household's youngest student. The cohorts are (A-K) and (L-Z). During hybrid (Step II) the A-K cohort will be on campus Monday and Tuesday, all students are remote on Wednesdays, and the L-Z cohort is on campus Thursday and Friday.
The District will consider hardship requests for a change in cohorts. However, requests must be based on specific criteria and not all will be granted. Decisions regarding individual hardship requests will be made consistently across all schools in South Burlington. Initial decisions will be made at the school level and can be appealed to the Superintendent. The Superintendent's decision is final.
2020-2021 School Reopening and Transportation Survey
Last week, in collaboration with my fellow superintendents in the Champlain Valley, I released our joint guidance on school reopening. My July 22 letter outlined our current plan to utilize a hybrid instruction delivery model. Subsequent to this note, I sent a link to the 2020-2021 school reopening and transportation survey which was administered from our PowerSchool Parent Portal. Thank you to everyone who filled out their survey. We received a 65% response rate and are currently reviewing the feedback.
Given the above described schedule where students will be divided into two groups coupled with the information collected from the survey, the transportation department is working on establishing routes to both pick-up and drop off students. The routes will not be finalized until the end of August.
We will be holding our official public hearing on the revised, proposed FY21 budget this coming Wednesday, August 5. You can find the agenda and participation information here or join us via RETN. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions about the budget at the board’s final mini budget information session prior to the vote. This one will be held on a weekend, Sunday, August 9 at 7 pm for those who couldn’t join us during the week. As with all of our meetings, minutes are posted on our district website and you can always watch the meetings you missed via RETN. You can review the latest, proposed budget information here.
Voting: School Ballots are In
The re-vote on the revised, proposed FY21 budget will take place August 11th in conjunction with the state primary. If you requested an absentee ballot in either of the prior votes, you will automatically receive a school ballot. A reminder that time is getting tight to request and receive an absentee ballot (a ballot can be requested via the Secretary of State’s My Voter page) in time to return it to City Hall by August 11.
We recommend mailing your ballot no later than August 5 in order for it to arrive on time. After August 5, you may drop off your ballot at City Hall weekdays from 9 am-noon and 1:00-4:00 pm (these are also the hours by which you may vote in person until August 10 at noon) or place it in the night drop box outside City Hall until 8:00 am August 11. In person voting will also occur August 11 from 7:00 am - 7:00 pm at all three of our polling locations: Orchard School (7-1), FHTMS (7-2, 7-3), and Chamberlin School (7-4).
Important Information On Deadlines: The last day to request an absentee ballot is the day before the election, August 10. Nothing can be dropped off at City Hall on election day. Any ballot that is received in the mail on election day will count. Anything received after the polls close at 7:00 pm, will not count.
A Note on Masks
Governor Phil Scott’’s executive order regarding mask wearing both inside and outside when physical distancing of at least 6 ft. is not possible, goes into effect August 1, 2020. As previously noted, masks will be required for all students and staff in our schools this coming school year. We encourage practicing wearing masks at home as a way to help students adjust to this change. At today’s press conference, the Governor announced that thousands of masks will be distributed at sites statewide for community members. We will share information on local pickup sites when it becomes available. In the meantime, check out this resource guide on where to purchase a mask or make your own.
We are working with several partners to identify additional childcare options for parents and guardians to consider during this period. More to follow.
I continue to be grateful for your support during these times. We are working very hard to navigate the unknowns and be nimble in the face of ever changing circumstances.