December 4, 2020
Dear Families, Staff, and Community Members,
I hope you all had a wonderful and productive first week back after break. It’s truly hard to believe it is December already! While it’s challenging, especially during the winter holidays, to keep gatherings limited to one’s own household, I truly appreciate you taking heed of the Governor’s guidance. Admittedly, there has been some confusion around that guidance, therefore the Vermont Agency of Education has released a FAQ document to address varied circumstances which I have noted below. Thank you all for your continued sacrifices for the well being of our students, staff, and community. Keeping our students participating in in-person learning as much as possible continues to be our top priority.
Travel Guidance: Mandatory Quarantine and Multifamily Gatherings
I wanted to thank our families and staff for being so diligent during the recent holiday and break. We have seen a limited number of students and staff needing to quarantine this week as a result of travel or multi-household gatherings (which are currently prohibited). Prior to the break, we made the decision not to ask an additional screening question related to travel and gathering, instead trusting in our families to do the right thing and quarantine if necessary.
That being said, as we head toward December holidays, we need to continue our efforts to protect our community and one another. This week, Secretary of Education Dan French released this FAQ Guidance for Schools Related to Limits on Multi-household Social Gatherings which should answer many of your questions.
Additional resources on travel, gatherings, and quarantine are available from the CDC. As a reminder, nonessential travel to and from Vermont requires a quarantine. Although the CDC has discussed reducing the quarantine period from 14 down to 10 days, 14 days stands as the current recommendation from the Vermont Department of Health. If you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 within the first 7 days of quarantine, you have the option to seek a PCR test on or after Day 7 to end quarantine early with a negative result, but you must continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for the full 14 days.
FY22 Budget: Next Community Forum December 8
The FY22 budget development process is underway and we want to hear from you! Our first community forum took place over Zoom November 10 and our next is December 8 followed by another January 5. Please note, these forums are taking the place of our Citizens Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC) this year. We invite you to offer your questions, comments, or to simply “drop in” to listen to the presentation. The budget will also be a topic on our regular school board meeting agendas. The 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). You can also find the latest budget information, including the November 10 presentation on our District budget website.
Running for the School Board: Two Open Seats!
Two positions on South Burlington’s five-member school board will be open this coming March; one for a term of two years, through March 2023 and the other for three years through March 2024. Board member Martin LaLonde wrote this article in the December 3 issue of The Other Paper which provides additional details and a firsthand perspective on what it’s like to serve on the board. For more information on becoming a candidate including deadlines for filing, see the City of South Burlington website.
Thank you to our nutritional services staff for providing meals to students during the Thanksgiving break! This dedicated team will also be offering meals over early winter break, December 21, 2020-January 1, 2021. Five (5) days' worth of meals will be delivered together each Monday, December 21 and December 28 via bus or pickup. There will be no individual daily meal choices only meal groups such as main meal, vegetarian or gluten free meals. Order forms must be submitted by Friday, December 18 at 1:00 pm. A separate order form needs to be placed for each student in a household. You can find the order forms on the nutritional services website.
Winter Sports Start Delayed and Plan for Indoor Track
While the winter sports season was set to begin November 30, it was announced by the Governor November 24, that, like recreational sports, the start time has been delayed and no new date has been set. This directive is being reviewed on a weekly basis. Despite this disappointing news, the high school is getting creative with how to navigate their largest sport: indoor track, especially given that it has not been sanctioned during the Winter 2020-21 season due to concerns related to training and restrictions on meet venues. It should be noted that COVID guidelines will be followed and the majority of workouts will be taking place outside. If workouts occur inside, they will be in safe spaces such as the weight room with appropriate physical distancing.
Our Director of Student Activities Michael Jabour has been working hard to come up with a plan and reports that, at the moment, the team, which is significantly smaller than in years past (less than 50 total) will be split into smaller teams that will be competing against each other throughout the winter. The "meets" will alternate between in-person and virtual. Jabour said, “Teams will have the opportunity to include some of their teachers to earn extra points toward the overall School Champions that will be crowned February 13th. We will be awarding individual event winners from that day and our cumulative team score champions to conclude a fun and different season!” Check out the SBHS indoor track and field page for more information!
SBHS Food Drive Competition Nets Impressive Donation
The Coalition for Community Service helped coordinate this year’s SBHS food drive to benefit the South Burlington Food Shelf. A competitive element between the blue and gray packs added to the fun! At the conclusion of the drive, the blue pack had donated 665 items while the gray pack collected 746 items with 40 fewer students! In total, over 1,335 lbs of food were donated to the food shelf by members of the Coalition for Community Service. This is by far the most a single food drive has ever brought in! Well done!
FHTMS Art Students Explore Exhibits Virtually
Recently, students in art teacher Beth Coleman’s Studio 6 and Studio 8 classes explored the Shelburne Museum online exhibit Creature Comfort: Animals in the House. Students were able to choose from thousands of artifacts to create a postcard to send in gratitude to the Shelburne Museum. In turn, the museum shared many of the students’ postcards on the Shelburne Museum Instagram!
Gertrude Chamberlin School Food Drive a Success
Chamberlin School families, students, and staff collected 536 lbs of nonperishables during their annual food drive. Items were delivered to the South Burlington Food Shelf prior to Thanksgiving. With added support from the greater community, Chamberlin Staff, PTO, Vibrant Church, Menard and Sons, Ignite Church, and the School Lunch Fairies, support for the season was provided to many Chamberlin families as well.
Rick Marcotte Central 5th Graders Head West!
Recently, 5th graders at Central School participated in the westward expansion unit where students act as pioneers traveling West to get to Oregon with a wagon train (other classmates at their table). According to 5th grade teacher Kristen Kavanagh, students have a day to "pack" their supplies before they head west to navigate obstacles that pioneers faced back in the 1800's such as snake bites and wagon wheels breaking. They have to make difficult decisions around which trails to take based on little information!
“To simulate the fates, we do many different things like flip a coin, roll die, or even toss a ball into a trash can from 20 feet away! It's an engaging way to learn about the journey for students,” Kavanagh noted. Check out the RMCS Twitter Page for photos!
Orchard School: Good News from the Library!
The pandemic isn't stopping Orchard School students from diving into good books. Prior to vacation week, students stocked up with an incredible 625 books to read over break! Students in grades 3-5 have also recently learned how to log in to "hold" a book through the library's Destiny Discover. Keep it up!
I hear there may be a little snow in the forecast. I hope you all have the chance to get out to safely enjoy the change of season.