• October 9, 2020

    Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,

    During this challenging time, I have continued to be grateful for the resilience of our staff, students, and families, so it seemed appropriate timing that World Teachers’ Day was recently celebrated October 5. Observing how our teachers responded when the pandemic initially came to light back in March, causing the complete shutdown of in-person learning, pivoting from remote learning to the hybrid model as we started this new school year, and being flexible, yet again, as we announced the transition to more in-person learning for our lower grades has been inspiring. Our Secretary of Education Dan French recently expressed his thanks as well in his letter to Vermont Educators. Finding creative ways to maintain the most important aspect of our work, relationship building, has been incredible to see. Thank you all!

    Reopening Update

    We continue to prepare for the phased reopening of our elementary schools with Grades PreK-2 students returning October 13 followed by our Grades 3-5 students October 26 for 4 days per week of in-person instruction. I am so proud of how quickly our dedicated staff has worked to make the adjustments necessary for a safe re-entry of our students into our schools. 

    Please continue to look for details specific to your child(ren)’s school from the individual principals. While we continue to see relatively low case counts and viral transmission of COVID-19 in Vermont and especially in schools, keep in mind that these dates and plans are subject to change based on evolving data from the Vermont Department of Health, the CDC, and guidance from the Vermont Agency of Education.

    Clarity on Attendance

    • Grades PreK-2, if your student(s) is currently enrolled in the hybrid model, they will be expected to attend school 4 days per week beginning the week of October 12 (no school Monday to honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day). 

    • Grades 3-5 will begin 4 days per week beginning October 26. 

    • Grades 6-12 will maintain the current hybrid schedule.

    We understand that many of you have made arrangements to accommodate the hybrid learning model such as childcare or activities specific to the remote learning days. However, attendance must be taken, as required by law, by reaching out by phone to connect with parents/guardians when a child does not show up for school, whether in-person or remote and/or indicates on the health survey that they are unwell. If your child(ren) is not in school on the above days, they will be marked absent. Thank you for your understanding.

    Physical Distancing Guidance

    Currently, the Strong and Healthy Start Guidelines from the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE) stipulate a need for 3-6ft of physical distancing to the extent possible between students ages 10 and under. The CVSA (Champlain Valley Superintendents Association) has submitted a letter to the AOE asking for changes to this language to allow for more flexibility. While the statewide task force that created the guidance is currently meeting to discuss this change, we will be working to ensure students are maintaining this distance to the extent possible and will continue with our additional layers of protection including mask wearing, proper hand hygiene, and air purification units in every classroom.

    VTVLC Learners 

    Currently, we have 10 SBSD teachers instructing classes through VTVLC and 167 students enrolled. I want you to know that all enrolled students are a part of our district. We care about  and miss them. We have heard some concerns from parents/guardians about the content and execution of the learning at certain grade levels. Please know we hear you and do not hesitate to reach out to our VTVLC coordinators Shelley Mathias for grades K-8 and Patrick Burke for grades 9-12 with any questions or concerns. 

    Transportation

    With the return of our grades PreK-2 students to four days of in-person learning, the transportation department has revised all elementary bus routes. Combining the two cohorts has resulted in adjustments to pick-up and drop-off times for many students and even some bus number changes for a few students. Please visit our District website for the updated bus route information. Our Middle and High School routes remain unchanged. We appreciate your patience thus far in this complex transportation year and encourage you to communicate questions and concerns to Kathy LaRock at klarock@sbschools.net or (802) 652-7479. If unable to reach Kathy, please contact Christa Chambers in the Office of Operations and Finance at cchambers@sbschools.net or (802) 652-7053 for assistance. 

    Reminder on Travel

    As holidays and vacations approach, families and staff may be considering traveling out of the area. This is a gentle reminder that the care and safety of our school community depends upon all of us following federal and state travel guidelines. Prior to traveling, be sure to check the cross state travel map from the State of Vermont which is updated every Tuesday. Areas that are in yellow and red require quarantines upon return to Vermont, so plan your getaways accordingly. You can find more detailed information about travel and quarantine at the Vermont Department of Health website.

    All employees who plan to or who have traveled out of state are expected to fill out this FY21 Covid Travel Notification Form. Thank you all for your compliance! 

    School Happenings

    Thanks to the fantastic weather so far this fall, the SBHS rowing club has been taking to the water. The club, coached by Emily Gilmore and Michelle Goldsmith, had their first race last weekend where they competed against Rice, Vergennes, CVU, Mt. Abe, and Burlington. Way to go!

    At Gertrude Chamberlin School, this week’s Wolf Pack Time restorative circle focused on COVID-19. It is crucial that all students feel safe, supported, and heard especially as the pandemic continues. Students watched a video called “Kids Explain the Coronavirus” which featured children sharing their thoughts about Covid-19. Afterward, Chamberlin students had an opportunity to share their own ideas and feelings. Principal Rouelle wrote, “In our circles, children know that they can "pass" if they don't want to share a response. We have spent time in the first few circles developing a safe and trusting environment so students hopefully feel that they can share their thoughts and feelings during Wolf Pack Time.” 

    Along this same theme, the Rick Marcotte Central School library has added library titles to help facilitate Covid-19 discussions with children. Topics range from mask wearing to answering Covid-19 questions through age appropriate stories. Check them out!

    At FHTMS, rehearsals have begun for their fall play, Jane Eyre. Congratulations to the cast and to all students who worked hard to prepare their auditions. Watch for more details to come on this play, currently set to be performed in January 2021. 

    Orchard School has begun a year long, school wide, antiracism project titled "Reading to Raise Anti-Racists." Thanks to last spring's fundraising efforts by Orchard parents/guardians, the school has multiple copies of selected picture books that every class will be reading during each month of the school year. They’ll be starting with Julius Lester's Let’s Talk About Race, followed in late October by Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein. The Orchard newsletter, “The Core” will be updated with future titles. 

    World Mental Health Day is October 10

    These uncertain times have highlighted the importance of caring for our mental health and what better time to take a moment to focus on this than World Mental Health Day. Locally, the Howard Center will be hosting its first annual community-wide recognition and celebration of World Mental Health Day (WMHD) throughout the month of October. You can check out their resources and free virtual speaker series at the link above.  

    I hope you all have a restful, enjoyable, and safe weekend.

    Sincerely,

    David