April 9, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
April has certainly graced us with some amazing weather during its first week. I’ve even seen the first spring flowers start to emerge around our schools. As we continue to navigate these times together, I am thankful for all of you. This Thursday afternoon, we received updates from the Agency of Education regarding changes to the Strong and Healthy Start (renamed Strong and Healthy Year) Guidance. This will serve as one piece of information to help inform our decision making as we make our way through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Please read below for further updates.
School Reopening Update
As I mentioned in my update last week, we continue to try to find a way to bring more of our students safely back to additional days of in-person learning. My decisions are made in tandem with my administrative team and by carefully considering COVID-19 conditions and criteria around reopening. The NEW Strong and Healthy Year Guidance was released April 8 and incorporates changes in distancing requirements (reducing from 6ft to 3 ft for students) recommended by the CDC among many others. We are carefully reviewing the new guidance and determining how best to move forward. There are many moving parts to consider including staffing, space configurations for cafeterias, and most importantly the safety of our students.
I remain concerned about the growing case counts statewide.The state’s weekly COVID-19 data summary indicates that both the rate and number of COVID-19 cases among school age children has recently increased (please see the case demographics portion of the April 9 weekly report). The uptick in prevalence of the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant is also on my mind. Please know that I want our students back to full, in person learning as soon as possible, but safety needs to be the number one priority and I do not feel comfortable giving a definite date of when we could bring more learners back into our classrooms full time. We will continue to watch the data before, during, and immediately after spring break and will communicate any changes as this careful planning continues.
Plans previously communicated for alternating Wednesdays at the middle and high school will continue. The schedule change at the middle school will begin Wednesday, April 14 and will bring students back into the building each Wednesday by cohort on an alternating basis. The high school began bringing students in for required statewide assessments in late March. Wednesdays will continue to be utilized in this way for all high school students up until the April break. After students return from break, the high school will follow a similar schedule to the middle school.
As spring break approaches and step one of the state’s recently released Phased Reopening Plan begins, we wanted to provide some updates and reminders. The plan indicates that with regard to cross-state travel, students and staff may return to school without quarantining. Testing is required of unvaccinated individuals within 72 hours of return (though we would recommend testing on the day of return to VT).
- This new guidance begins April 9th. Parents/guardians do not need to provide COVID test results to the school, nor do students need to quarantine (a student may return to school after travelling out of state).
- While it is recommended to be tested within 3 days, families may want to consider testing on the day you return to VT.
- The CDC continues to recommend delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated and suggests seeking safer travel ideas.
We request that families and staff continue to take temperatures and monitor their student's and their own health at home prior to coming to school/work. This takes on even more importance as temperature checks upon school entry will be phased out by Monday. Please continue to fill out the RUVNA app each morning prior to arrival. Thank you for helping to keep us all safe!
Nutrition Services: Don’t Forget to Order Spring Break Meals!
Nutritional Services will be supplying meals over spring break April 22nd-26th (Thank you!!). A weeks' worth of meals will be available on Monday April 22nd only for delivery or pickup (9-10:00 AM) at FHTMS. All meals must be ordered through the online meal order system and must be received by Friday, April 16th at 1:00 PM
SBHS Receives Anonymous $10,000 Donation
The South Burlington Schools Foundation has received an anonymous $10,000 donation from a SBHS family intended to be used for the purpose of supporting and restoring student mental health as well as academic performance following the pandemic.
The correspondence from this family stipulates that the funds be distributed at the discretion of a committee to include the Director of Guidance at SBHS Meghan Sweet, SBHS Principal Patrick Burke, an assistant principal, and a school social worker. It is the family’s preference to see a portion of the funds used for some form of school-wide awareness programming or resources. We are grateful!
FHTMS’ Create A Skate Returns!
After a 4-month hiatus, the very popular after school club Create-A-Skate returned in March! This club is in its 6th year at FHTMS and is run by art teacher Alison Treston. Students in all grades can participate in creating designs on their very own skateboard. As a club, they look at artists who design and illustrate skateboards as a profession. They also discuss the science that goes behind geographical location and harvesting the right type of wood to make a quality board. Students get to use a variety of art supplies to decorate and illustrate their boards including spray paint, paint pens, acrylic paint, wood stain, and marker. They add the trucks, wheels, and grip tape themselves. Some students even use the boards when they are finished! For more info, you can check out Create-A-Skate's website as well as @fhtmsart for the latest!
Gertrude Chamberlin School’s Nurse Farrell in the News!
We knew, prior to the pandemic that our school nurses play a crucial role in keeping our students safe and healthy. This week, Chamberlin’s own school nurse Kerry Farrell was featured in this KidsVT Article! Be sure to check out the video as well where Principal Rouelle shares her thoughts on the impact of Nurse Farrell on the Chamberlin School community. Well done!
Rick Marcotte Central Students Study Engineering
Recently, 5th graders at Central School took a hands-on approach to STEM learning by building chip crushers in their Engineering and Design with Pneumatics class. Check out Principal Kilbourne’s Weekly Family Newsletter for photos of their creativity!
Orchard School Kindergarteners Read and Laugh to Book Series
All four kindergarten classes at Orchard School have been having a great time reading Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie Books. According to teacher Raechel Barone, in the series, Gerald and Piggie are two great friends who work through everyday things like sharing, meeting and including new friends, feeling big feelings, and not giving up on their goals (while building the confidence of early readers!). Students created Gerald and Piggie “costumes” which were part of a classroom celebration where they watched a Lunchtime Doodle Session with Mo and learned how to draw his pigeon character! See photos of the fun on Orchard School's Instagram.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend!