April 2, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardian and Staff,
Welcome to April! In typical Vermont fashion, we were met with an April Fool’s day dusting of snow! But, there’s no doubt spring is upon us. Thanks to all of our staff, parents and guardians who took time to participate in our parent/teacher conferences Thursday and Friday and for being so accommodating of the half days. These connections are incredibly important to foster and maintain always, but especially during these times. Please see my latest updates below.
School Reopening Update
I have heard from many of you over the past weeks regarding a desire for our schools to return to more in-person learning and I wanted to let you know I have been meeting with my administrative team this week to determine how we can safely make this happen. We want nothing more than to have all of our students back in their classrooms in some capacity as soon as possible. The CDC recently updated the physical distancing requirement for students in classrooms from 6 ft to 3 ft and we heard at the Governor’s press conference today that Vermont will be following suit officially at some point next week. In addition to this change in criteria, we are also monitoring COVID-19 conditions closely, both in our schools and statewide. There has been a marked increase in cases in Vermont and this information cannot be discounted as we look to bringing more students back into our schools.
Currently, we have plans to bring tents back to all of our schools April 19 to help create additional space and outdoor classrooms. Our goal at the moment is to have students in grades K-8 return to 5 days per week of in-person learning in early May with grades 9-12 having more in-person learning days as well.
Vaccinations have also factored into my plan. With more staff having taken the opportunity to become vaccinated and many receiving their second dose of a vaccine the week of April 5, this will put us in a better place in terms of virus transmission. This timeline means that staff will reach their full immunity two weeks after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine(see this information from the Vermont Department of Health) or two weeks after the one shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
As we work through this process in a thoughtful way, allowing time for staff questions and concerns to be heard, I will be sure to keep you updated. Look for my April 9 letter for further details.
COVID Vaccine Eligibility and Reminder on Precautions
This week, COVID-19 vaccine eligibility was opened to the 50 plus age group, BIPOC individuals as well as their family members within the same household, and parents and primary caregivers of children with high risk health conditions. Beginning April 19, all Vermont residents ages16 and up will be eligible to register. This is very exciting news for us all! However, we are seeing case counts continue to tick upward. In light of this and as we approach the spring holidays, please remember to continue to wear a mask, keep your social circle small, and wash your hands frequently. We recommend these precautions to everyone, including people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about how to continue staying safe here. Thanks for your continued vigilance!
COVID-19 Staff Surveillance Testing
Voluntary staff COVID-19 surveillance testing took place this past Tuesday, March 30. This was our fifth time participating in the testing since the protocol was rolled out by the state. It was indicated in last Friday’s Governor’s press briefing that the surveillance testing will likely be phased out as more staff become vaccinated, but it has proven to be a valuable metric for both the state and South Burlington to gauge COVID-19 transmission. You can read more about school staff surveillance testing here.
VTVLC “Talks with a Teacher”
The VTVLC blog series “Talks with a Teacher” recently featured SBHS teacher Theresa Akerley where she discussed her experience this year with VTVLC’S collaborative school option (CSO) program. This provides a window into how teachers have pivoted their practice over the past year.
Virtual Career Expo April 7
On Wednesday, April 7th, SBHS students will have the chance to speak with over 50 different career professionals about their jobs. Due to the pandemic, last year’s event was cancelled, but this year, the student planned and led event is going virtual. The schedule for the day will include opening remarks from keynote speaker Dennis Littky. Littky was a cofounder of Big Picture Learning, an interest and internship based high school option with schools all over the world (including one within SBHS).
After the keynote address, students will have the opportunity to join three different 20 minute Zoom meetings based on their areas of career interest. After lunch, they can choose one 30 minute option that assists with planning their pathway. Examples include, planning a gap year, the cost-benefit analysis of going to college, and promising/in-demand jobs in Vermont.
Sports and Cocurricular Accolades!
Congratulations to the SBHS Bowling and Math Teams who both won the State Championship last week! In addition, the Scholars' Bowl varsity team competed in a tournament March 20 (with members subbing in and out for one another). They were Matthew Vigneau (Captain), Saksham Bhardwaj, Zachary Klugo, Sriram Sethuraman, and Finn Zuccareno. Although the state competitions are done, South Burlington's performance this year qualified the team to compete in the NAQT (National Academic Quiz Tournament) in late May which will be held online. The SBHS Dance Team also won the Varsity Pom championship earlier this winter. The Agency of Education released their Spring Sports Guidance at the end of March, therefore, registration for spring sports is underway and ends April 12. See more information on the sbwolves website.
SBHS Student Trinity Rye ‘24 Semifinalist in Artemis Moon Essay Contest
Future Engineers and NASA have announced 155 semifinalists in the Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest, a national competition that asked K-12 students to imagine leading a one-week expedition at the Moon’s South Pole. Trinity Rye will represent Vermont for Grades 9-12 in the next round of the competition. On April 7, the contest will be narrowed to nine national finalists who will be interviewed about their essays. In May, the grand prize winners will be announced, each of which will win a family trip to attend NASA’s Artemis I launch at Kennedy Space Center. Read Trinity’s essay here.The essay contest was issued in collaboration with NASA’s Artemis Program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon.
FHTMS’ Mindful Minute Gets some Levity
At FHTMS, the counseling team has been following a theme for March on mental health and mindfulness. According to counselor Matthew Guyette, FHTMS has been running TA circles with elements of mindfulness and opportunities for students to identify and share ways to cope with stress and to reflect and grow their network of supports. In addition, for the month of March the team has announced a mindful minute exercise every morning before the regular announcements and has held a moment break every afternoon. The counseling team, made up of Guyette, Kelly Tivnan, Donna Lamey and Yvette Ablo have written the TA scripts and announcements.
According to Guyette, “Because of this week's half days, we thought it best to conclude the afternoon movement announcements last Friday. That memo didn't quite reach the front office, who when noticing our absence, quickly recruited the close by Jeff Novak to improvise the movement piece. The perceptive Jeff Novak, determined on the fly that the Hokey Pokey is "what it's all about '' and led the whole school in his version of the Hokey Pokey. All appreciated the humor and movement to provide us some afternoon levity.”
Gertrude Chamberlin Students Learn about Holi
EL Teacher Rochelle McGurn read a story to Ms. Boudreau’s first grade class about the Hindu festival, Holi, which began March 28 and ended March 29. Holi originated in India, but is celebrated around the world and is also called the festival of colors. The class watched a video of the Holi celebration that was hosted by the Vermont Hindu Temple in Burlington in 2016 and colored some Holi-themed coloring pages. One student brought in some bags of the colorful powders that are used for the celebration as well. McGurn said, “Many of the students were enthusiastic about taking part in the festival next year when COVID restrictions are hopefully lifted!”
Rick Marcotte Central Artists Inspired by Andrea Beaty Books
Kindergarten and 1st grade students in Kelsey Lewis’ art class recently were inspired to create artwork after reading two books by Andrea Beaty; “Rosie Revere Engineer” and “Iggy Peck Architect.” Lewis wrote, “After learning about those careers, kindergartners had the chance to try their hand at designing, engineering, and building using paper and cardboard and a whole lot of imagination!” See some of their creations on the RMCSArt Facebook page!
Orchard Kindergarteners Learn About Tree Tapping!
Students in Raechel Barone’s kindergarten class learned all about maple during a hands-on adventure to do tree tapping. Barone noted that in the past, she and her teammate Tracy Garland have been able to take their classes to Shelburne Farms for their maple sugaring field trip. But since that wasn’t possible this year, Barone brought the experience to school! Students learned that the tradition of collecting sap and boiling it into maple syrup is hundreds of years old and comes to us from the Abenaki people. Coincidentally, the day they tapped a tree was the same day as their Farm to School lesson where March’s focus was, you guessed it, maple syrup!
Thank you all for reading and have a wonderful weekend!