November 6, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,
Monday brought us our first snow of the season and although, not timed to coincide with the flurries, we tested our emergency alert system at 6:00 pm November 2 in preparation for more wintery weather to come (although it’s hard to believe on a day like today!). If you did not receive an e-mail, voicemail, or both, please contact your school’s front office staff so we can ensure we have the correct information on file. While the majority of District notifications are sent out by email only, select messages, such as emergencies, unscheduled early releases and/or school closures, are typically sent by both phone and email, due to their time sensitive nature. We want to be sure we are prepared for both weather and any other alerts that may be necessary. Thank you all!
I am so pleased with how well the return of all of our elementary grade students to 4 days per week of in-person leaning is going! This is a true testament to our dedicated students, families, and staff who continue to follow our new protocols; keeping us all safe and in school. I did want to take the opportunity to note that Secretary of Education Dan French reiterated today that there are no plans for schools to shift to remote learning for the period after Thanksgiving recess until the beginning of winter break. In addition, we have received questions around if and when we might be able to reopen our middle and high school to additional days of in-person instruction. Due to the current Strong and Healthy Start Guidelines that indicate the continued need for 6 ft of physical distancing for students in grades 7-12, we cannot currently do so safely.
Our transportation department continues to do an exceptional job of not only transporting our students safely to and from school, but also following and enforcing COVID-19 prevention protocols. We have received some questions around whether or not a child, who has received permission from their parent/guardian can ride a different bus to another child’s home. It continues to be our policy, not to allow this to occur in order to keep cohorts as static as possible.
COVID Cases and Contact Tracing
This week, the District was notified by the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) that we had a staff member at both Rick Marcotte Central School and Gertrude Chamberlin School test positive for COVID-19. We swiftly met with the Vermont Department of Health contact tracers in both instances. The families affected were contacted by the Vermont Department of Health and necessary quarantines are taking place. The VDH did not recommend that we move to remote learning or quarantine any classes. I wanted to clarify that “close contact” is defined as being within 6 ft. of the individual who tested positive for a total of 15 minutes. Here is a short video that describes contact tracing if you would like more information.
Due to confidentiality laws (FERPA and HIPPA), we cannot share with you any further information, including any names of positive cases or close contacts. Thank you for your understanding. Please know that we are taking every precaution around cleaning and safety to allow learning to continue in person at all of our schools.
At the November 6 Governor's press conference, Vermont’s Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, discussed the upcoming holiday season and the growing COVID-19 cases both in Vermont and regionally. In his remarks, he strongly discouraged travel and gatherings over the size of ten. We realize the decision to travel or gather is highly personal and undoubtedly, this season will look different for many of us. If you are wrestling with this decision, the Health Department has developed a Holiday Travel Toolkit for Schools full of useful information for anyone. The toolkit includes travel questions families can ask themselves and information on how to acknowledge the challenges associated with the difficult decisions about whether and how to travel.
Please consider the level of risk you are willing to take prior to planning travel or gathering with loved ones. Here are a few steps to follow:
1. Check the cross-state travel map which is updated every Tuesday to find out the risk of COVID-19 infection at your destination.
2. Decide if the risk is worth it for your family.
4. Quarantine when you return.
Nutritional Services: Almost Time for the Harvest Meal
Every year, our nutritional services team gets into the spirit of the season by offering a harvest meal. This year, of course, will look a little different. Instead of families and community members gathering in the schools to share a meal consisting primarily of local provisions, the meals will be picked up or delivered and enjoyed off-site. The harvest meal will be available Wednesday, November 18 to all children and will be delivered via bus and will be available for pickup as well. The meal will feature a traditional menu consisting of roast turkey or tofu, stuffing, mashed potato, gravy, roll, vegetable, and cranberry sauce. It will be the only meal offered that day. The deadline for ordering is Friday, November 13 at 1:00 pm and the order form can be found on the District's nutritional services webpage.
FY2022 Budget Development Process
It’s hard to believe, but the FY22 budget development process has begun and we want to hear from you! This year, in lieu of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC), we will be holding a series of community forums via Zoom as a way to hear from as many community members as possible. The first will take place November 10 from 6-7:30 pm, followed by two additional sessions December 8 and January 5. You can also check out the regular school board meetings to hear budget conversations and ask questions. Regular school board meeting minutes and agendas are posted on our district website. There is an option to participate via Zoom or watch live via RETN’s Facebook page (or on the RETN website afterward). We look forward to hearing your questions and insights.
High School Winter Sports Guidance Announced
Good news for SBHS athletes coming from the state this week! Winter sports guidance has been released and most sports (no wrestling or indoor track) will take place with safety measures in place. Some of the key takeaways are that practices may start on or after November 30, games cannot begin any sooner than January 11, no spectators will be allowed at any games, practices or events, face coverings will be mandatory for all, and team based social gatherings will not be allowed. Luckily, SBHS is installing 2 fully HD cameras in their gyms and have entered into an agreement with the NFHS Network to cast all games.
SBHS Girls Soccer Headed to D1 State Championships!
Tomorrow morning at 10 am, the SBHS girls soccer team will face CVU in the D1 soccer championships. All games will be broadcast via the NFHS Network.. The cost is $10.99 and that will give all subscribers a 30-day subscription. We’ll be rooting for you!
FHTMS Kindness and Appreciation Committee to Recognize Students
The committee above, led by FHTMS counselors Yvette Amblo and Matt Guyette is preparing several fun events and ways to show appreciation for FHTMS students next week. Students will be recognized for their outstanding attitude, collaboration, and empathy for one another during these challenging times.
“Zoom” Around the Room at Rick Marcotte Central School
Now that all students are back to school at RMCS 4 days per week, it’s time for a virtual open house! “Zoom” around the room mini tours will occur for each grade level’s classroom. The tours will take place via zoom, where the teachers and Principal Kilbourne will be panelists and all audience members will have their microphones muted, with just the chat feature on for questions (directed to the host) at the end of the planned presentation. Presentations have been scheduled for:grades PreK-2 November 9 and Grades 3-5 November 12.
Gertrude Chamberlin School Food Drive Underway
At GCS, the annual food drive has officially begun and will run through November 18. This year, GCS is working in collaboration with the South Burlington Food Shelf, Vibrant Church, and Chamberlin families to make this happen. Due to COVID precautions, instead of family baskets for GCS families this year, GCS will be making donations to the food shelf. Students can bring nonperishable items to school during this time period.
Orchard School Staff Get Literary for Halloween
Last Friday, Orchard School staff got into the spirit of Halloween by dressing up as characters from their favorite books. Students saw Amelia Bedelia,Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web, and characters from the Laura Numeroff books. Even principal Mark Trifilio got in on the fun by dressing up as a character from the Dr. Seuss book “Go Dog Go!”
Thank you for reading and I hope you all enjoy the sunshine this weekend!