• November 20, 2020

    Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,

    It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving break is upon us. Next week, there will be no school for students as parent/teacher conferences occur virtually, then we begin a well deserved break Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Thank you all for your continued vigilance during this challenging time and your commitment to our students and community. 

    COVID-19 Conversation with SB Parents/Medical Professionals

    Do you have questions about the upcoming holidays and how to celebrate safely? Looking for tips on how to keep our schools open and safe? Check out this COVID-19 Conversation with SB Parents and Medical Professionals.Prefer to listen to or watch the conversation? Enjoy the ten minute video here. Big thanks to Dr. Denise Aronzon, Kate Goodwin, APRN, CPNP, and Dr. Ben Lee as well as school district nurses Michelle Cannon and Kara Cassani. IT Educator Kristen Courcelle provided technical assistance.

    Travel Guidance: Mandatory Quarantine and Multifamily Gatherings

    Yesterday, the CDC released additional guidance regarding the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and limiting the spread of COVID-19. Mainly, their guidance came in line with that which was released by Governor Phil Scott last week prohibiting multifamily gatherings, both inside and out, whether in public or private spaces.

    In addition, nonessential travel to and from Vermont now requires a quarantine. The cross-state travel map, which had previously been updated every Tuesday, has been suspended due to increasing COVID case counts in Vermont and in our region. Keeping our schools open and community safe is absolutely crucial at this moment as we see cases of COVID continue to rise. I know the holidays will look different for all of us this year, but following the guidance around celebrations from the CDC and finding creative alternatives to gathering will be key now and moving forward. Thank you all for your help!

    Reopening Update

    I am amazed by the resilience of our families and staff as we continue to be able to keep our elementary students all back to in-person learning four days per week!  We continue to watch the state data and guidance as we navigate these times and have plans in place should we need to move to Step II or Step I. 

    Elementary School Attendance 

    I wanted to make families aware that morning meeting in the three elementary schools is when we will be taking attendance (Wednesdays). We believe it is important to make these zoom connections with students as we continue to work in the Covid period. The main focus is to connect with students and their other classmates for our cohesion and connections.

    Reminder on Childcare Options

    Families can access child care through the state-wide child care referral network. Child Care Referral Specialists at statewide community childcare support agencies can match families with available child care options, including for school-aged children. There is no charge for this service, and it is available to all Vermonters. 

    Additionally, families can receive financial support for childcare by talking with an eligibility specialist. The Child Care Financial Assistance Program helps families pay for child care. Families with a household of four people can make up to $77,256 per year and qualify for help. Eligibility specialists maintain an ongoing connection with families who receive this benefit and help them as their needs change. 

    Mental Health Resources

    This is a challenging and unprecedented time for all of us and taking care of our mental health is vital. I wanted to let you all know about COVID Support VT which offers numerous resources including a weekly free virtual wellness group chat. I also found this latest comic from NPR on coping with the pandemic helpful for adults and students alike!

    Staff Voluntary COVID Testing 

    You may have read that the state recently launched a voluntary surveillance testing initiative for K-12 staff. We received notification early last week that we would be one of the school districts to participate in the testing for the Vermont Department of Health and Agency of Education. On Monday, November 16, our district as a whole tested 270 employees. This included teachers, paraeducators, nutritional service team members, facilities crew, bus drivers, and central office staff. The next testing opportunity will take place in December on a date to be determined. 

    FY22 Budget

    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. Our first forum took place November 10 and will be 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 the school board page of 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. You can also find the latest budget information, including the November 10 presentation on our District budget website

    Nutritional Services: Harvest Meal a Success

    Big thanks to our nutritional services team for providing a reenvisioned version of our harvest meal to students via delivery and pickup November 18! We hope that next year, we will once again be able to come together with our community members in our schools to continue this tradition. In addition, meals will be available for the upcoming vacation week. Five days worth of meals will be delivered together on Tuesday, November 24, via bus or pickup. We are grateful!

    NFI Vermont Seeking Foster Parents

    Local non-profit Northeastern Family Institute (NFI-VT) is currently seeking Treatment Foster Parents for their foster care program. NFI-VT works to create successful treatment environments for youth in small, safe community based settings. Treatment Foster Parents are an integral part of the treatment we offer by opening their homes and hearts and providing for the physical, emotional and social needs of children in a “substitute” family setting – a foster home. For more information on how you can make a difference in the life of a child visit our website: NFIVermont.org or contact Jodie Clarke at 802-363-7578 or jodieclarke@nafi.com

    School Happenings

    SBHS Musician Receives Multiple Accolades

    SBHS Senior musician, Taryn Turner, was honored last fall by being selected as a VT All State Music Scholarship Recipient for Outstanding Performance in Vocal Music. This Fall, she was asked to represent SBHS in the MET Opera's student Virtual Choir performance as part of the 2020-2021 Live in HD series, and in January of 2021, will be participating in the National Association for Music Education's National Honor Choir festival and virtual choir "performance" (Jan 7-9, 2021). Well done!

    FHTMS Spirit Week

    This past week, FHTMS students and staff participated in spirit week. From Pjs to stripes, plaid to patterns. There was also a slide show during lunches of students from both the Blue and Gray Packs, so students could see friends and teammates they have not yet seen in school this year!

    Gertrude Chamberlin School Wolf Pack Time: Focusing Attention

    Couldn’t we all use a little help focusing right now? Chamberlin students have been working on those skills in Wolf Pack time! During the November 10th Wolf Pack time, Chamberlin students practiced one of the Second Step Skills: Focusing Attention. They played an interactive game that required focus. While students were out of the game, they tried to use their words to distract the students that were playing. After the game, Wolf Packs talked about strategies they use to ignore distractions. 

    Rick Marcotte Central School Students get Abstract

    Kindergarten artists recently learned about Piet Mondrian and used straight lines, geometric shapes and primary colors to create their own abstract collages. Photos of some of the masterpieces can be found on the RMCS Art Facebook page.

    Orchard School Students Express their Hopes and Dreams 

    From learning to ride a mountain bike to getting better at reading and math, students at Orchard School created hot air balloon artwork and wrote within them some of their hopes and dreams as well as how they would achieve them. Prepare to be inspired on the Orchard School Instagram page.

    As many of us begin preparations for the upcoming holiday, please remember to wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. Have a safe and enjoyable break!


    David Young