October 16, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,
The mid-October weather, although unseasonably warm late this week, offered us a few more opportunities to enjoy our outdoor classrooms before they are taken down for the season in early November. This week, we welcomed back our Grades PreK-2 students to four days per week of in-person instruction beginning Tuesday, October 13. We are so glad to have more of our students back in our classrooms. Thanks to all of the staff, students, and families who have helped make this happen safely!
Honoring Kathy Buley
It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that our long time educator and friend, Kathy Buley, passed away after an incredibly courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Kathy was an educator in our District for over 40 years, primarily at Gertrude Chamberlin School. Today, to honor her memory, staff and students were encouraged to wear purple, the official color of pancreatic cancer awareness. Gertrude Chamberlin Principal Holly Rouelle wrote, “We are incredibly saddened by her loss and will remember her as a loving, dedicated teacher and a strong advocate for children and education. We are incredibly grateful to have had Kathy as a teacher and colleague at our school and as a resident of South Burlington. We know that she has positively touched hundreds and even thousands of lives and made a difference in our community.” I wish you all strength in the days and weeks ahead and please don't hesitate to reach out to your families, school principals, and colleagues for support as we process this loss in our own ways.
I wanted to extend a warm welcome back to our PreK-2 students to four days per week of in-person learning which began October 13! Our plan remains to bring back Grades 3-5 October 26 and we are in preliminary conversations to bring middle school students (Grades 6-8) back to four days per week hopefully in November. I will keep you updated on these discussions.
I wanted to reassure families that even as we have increased capacity in our schools, we continue to enforce protective measures such as mask wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing. Physical distancing guidance remains at 3-6 ft.for students in Grades PreK-5 to the extent possible according to the current language in the state's Strong and Healthy Start Guidelines. The state task force is currently reviewing this language to allow for more flexibility within our schools. In addition, the District purchased 205 air purification units with grant support from Efficiency VT for all classrooms this year. Most large offices that support several people in the same space also have one. The purifiers have a true HEPA filter and UV-C lamps. Also, the District HVAC equipment has been serviced with 80 percent of filters having been converted to MERV-13 filters, the remaining 20 percent are on the way due to high nationwide demand.
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. In addition, the CDC recently released a helpful guide for safely celebrating upcoming holidays.
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!
Tomorrow, from 4:00-5:00 pm on the SBHS Munson Turf Field, the UVM Student-Athletes of Color, in conjunction with South Burlington and Burlington High School Athletic Departments, have invited coaches, teachers, administration, and community members to share their experiences and perspectives of being people of color in Vermont. This is a ticketed event and has SOLD OUT! However, the event will be livestreamed on the Burlington School District Athletics Facebook page. There will be no tickets at the door.
The evening will be capped off with a “Fight Racism” girls' soccer game vs Burlington High School under the lights at 7: 00 pm. The inspiration for the game came from SBHS junior and varsity soccer team member Josie Oliveira. Oliveira became motivated over the summer, after observing national events related to racism, to take action. “We live in Vermont, but not in a bubble,” Oliveira said, “This is a way to take a small step forward to let people know they are heard and not alone.” Please note that the SBHS athletics spectator policy, including physical distancing and mask wearing will be enforced. The game is not open to the general public. Read more about the event and see the speaker lineup in this Burlington Free Press article.
In a related note, the FHTMS group, SOAR (Students Organizing Against Racism), began meeting again (virtually) in late September.We look forward to continuing to support and be inspired by these middle school students’ antiracism work again this year!
Gertrude Chamberlin School(GCS) has received an award for their PBIS work! The school received their official certificate of recognition this week for maintaining and sustaining the PBIS framework during COVID-19 school building closures. GCS was one of nineteen schools that was recognized during the Annual Vermont PBIS Leadership Forum held October 7th and highlighted in the 2019-2020 VTPBIS Annual Report. In this video shown at the virtual PBiS Forum, you will see some familiar sights from Gertrude Chamberlin School. Principal Rouelle gave shout outs to Lisa Finlayson and the Universal and Targeted teams for supporting a positive climate at GCS, even during closure.“It is a beautiful video, highlighting the strength, love and perseverance we have shown to reopen our schools” Rouelle noted.
Rick Marcotte Central School students are looking forward to the next Common Roots Farm to School lesson on sweet potatoes and garlic next week. Yum!
At Orchard School, after an extended period of warm weather, it was finally time to put the school gardens to bed and it was truly a team effort. Check out the photos of staff hard at work (and having fun!) on Orchard School's Twitter.
Our transportation staff has been working incredibly hard during challenging circumstances to ensure students are transported to and from school in a safe manner. We have appreciated your patience during this time. The South Burlington School District is following all Vermont Department of Health (VDOH) guidelines around transportation and at Step III, that means there are no capacity restrictions on our buses. Currently, we are using a maximum capacity of 50 students per bus (2 students per bus seat) for our transportation planning purposes. At the moment, we have kept riders at the minimum number that our transportation resources will allow, while continuing to enforce universal precautions, including mask wearing on our buses.
In addition, since the school year began, we have been encouraging and continue to ask parents and guardians to transport their students, walk, or bike to school whenever possible.
Please communicate any questions or concerns to Kathy LaRock at email@example.com or (802) 652-7479. If unable to reach Kathy, please contact Christa Chambers in the Office of Operations and Finance at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 652-7053 for assistance.
National Principals Month
October is National Principals Month and I wanted to give thanks for our amazing school principals: Gertrude Chamberlin Principal Holly Rouelle, Rick Marcotte Central School Principal Kathleen Kilbourne, Orchard School Principal Mark Trifilio, Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School Principal Karsten Schlenter and Assistant Principal David Hyatt, South Burlington High School Principal Patrick Burke and Assistant Principals Lissa McDonald and John Craig. Read more about National Principals Month here.
Thank you all for your continued support and have a great weekend.