• May 21, 2021

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,

    And just like that, it feels like summer! Lilacs are in bloom and I know many of you have been relishing time in your gardens (including those who maintain and foster our schools’ gardens!) May seems to be the month we recognize so many who have an impact on our communities (teachers, nurses, and nutrition services staff to name a few), but I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to offer appreciation for our pollinators, given that yesterday was United Nations World Bee Day! We wouldn’t be benefiting from all of this natural beauty and delicious food without them!

    SBHS to Host COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic May 25

    We were excited to learn recently of the FDA's authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for youth ages 12-15. To help facilitate the statewide vaccination effort, many school districts across the state, including South Burlington will be hosting vaccine clinics. These clinics are open to everyone, including parents/guardians and those who reside outside of South Burlington. Our clinic will take place May 25 at the SBHS Burleigh Gym from 11:00 am-6:00 pm. You can find an evolving list of vaccination sites and how to register here. Vermont residents 12 and older can also access vaccination walk-in clinics, but individuals in that age group should look for clinics that offer the Pfizer vaccine and bring a parent or guardian with them. Please see detailed information about registering for the SBSD clinic here. Vaccine informational videos in multiple languages have also been generously created by the Vermont Multilingual Coronavirus Task Force.

    If you have questions about the vaccine as it relates to children, please take the opportunity to join local pediatricians for Zoom info sessions! The Vermont Department of Health began offering this series of online meetings last week and upcoming events will take place May 23 and May 26. 

    Masking Still Required in Vermont Schools

    Given the recent change from the CDC regarding mask wearing for those who are fully vaccinated, I wanted to take a moment to clarify that all students and adults are still required to wear masks at school and school-sponsored events. Governor Scott announced last week that Vermont will be adopting the latest CDC guidance stating that fully vaccinated people can now participate in most indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

    However, there are exceptions to this guidance and the way it will be applied in Vermont, including in schools. Page 12 of the Strong and Healthy Year Guidance states that “All staff and students are required to wear facial coverings while in the building. They must also wear them when outside of the building if an adequate physical distance of at least six (6) feet cannot be maintained.” The Vermont Agency of Education has stated that for now, all Vermont schools should continue to follow this masking guidance. Given that many of our students have not been vaccinated, continued masking by staff also provides a good example of our expectations. I will communicate any changes as they arise.  

    Education Recovery Planning

    As we come through the pandemic, we are evaluating how this past year has impacted our students from a social emotional perspective in order to better provide academic opportunities in the year to come. We are in the process of getting summer offerings in place that foster social belonging and learner aspirations as students reconnect with school after their hybrid and remote learning experiences. SBSD will be receiving federal funds on a rolling basis to support recovery efforts over the next few years and our District will submit an initial education recovery plan on or before June 1 that focuses on supporting student learning, engagement, and social emotional wellbeing. We will post this plan on our website once it is complete. The plan's strategies will be updated as we move forward and we will be seeking input from families and community members, so please stay tuned!

    Enhancing Communication: Texting Going Live Next Week!

    In order to enhance our communication and engagement with families and staff, we will be adding SMS/text messaging to our SchoolMessenger notification system (the system the District uses to send phone and email communications to families and staff). We have established a "go live" date of May 25 at 6:30 pm. At that time, if you have a mobile phone number on file with the District, you will receive a one-time text message asking if you want to receive texts going forward. The message will come from the number 67587. Simply respond with the letter "Y" or the word "Yes" to opt-in. Ready to opt-in now? You can simply send a text to the number 67587 with the letter "Y" or the word Yes" to opt-in today!

    Annual Student Update Forms Are Open for the 2021-2022 School Year

    Get started today! Please register your student for the 2021-2022 School Year by completing the Annual Student Update forms before August 17th.  These forms help families verify and share important health and contact information as well as allow for permissions to be set for school technology devices. To start, click this link: Getting Started: Register a Returning Student. If you have questions or need assistance with this process, please contact your school directly.

    Connecting with the School Board: Upcoming Opportunities

    The school board began piloting virtual pop-in sessions for community members to express their concerns, ask questions, or offer suggestions to school board members in mid-May. Next week, you can join Board Chair Bridget Burkhardt Monday, May 24 from 9:00-11:00 am and Rebecca Day Tuesday, May 25 from 10:00-11:00 am. Check out the School Board's Facebook Page and the District website for the latest dates and links! Thanks to the community members who have joined us so far! Your feedback has led to fulfilling a request for an evening session! Board members are currently determining who will offer this time slot and on what days. We’ll keep you posted!

    Missed the May 19 board meeting? You can watch it via the Media Factory website and see the meeting minutes and backup information on the District website.

    School Happenings

    SBHS:  Getting to Know Assistant Principal John Craig! 

    If you haven’t seen it yet, the latest edition of the Howling Herald is now live and features an article on SBHS’ own Assistant Principal John Craig. Get to know what motivated him to pursue this career path and how he knew the South Burlington School District was a great fit for him. 

    FHTMS Peer Leadership Welcomes Students Back!  

    If you have been anywhere near FHTMS lately, I’m sure you’ve noticed the incredible chalk art on the sidewalks welcoming all students back! This was thanks to the efforts of the peer leadership group. Yvette Amblo noted that,  “Peer Leaders have been busy spreading positive messages in our learning community. From making posters welcoming the uniting of our Blue and Gray packs when we all returned for 5 days per week of learning, to chalk art to greet all students upon arrival this past Wednesday morning, and all the other daily ways they reach out to and support their peers. FHT Peer Leaders make a difference each day.” Very well done!

    Spring Cleaning: Recycle Your Old Batteries! 

    The FHTMS Why Not? students want your batteries! According to teacher Amelia Lutz, students taking science will work with Rhonda Mace, Chittenden Solid Waste District's School Outreach Coordinator to prepare the batteries for safe delivery to Call2Recycle or the CSWD. Students have heard from Rhonda already about the importance of keeping used batteries out of the landfill and recapturing resources. Students will be prepping batteries to recycle on Tuesday, May 25 from 10:30 am-noon and 1:30 pm-3 pm during their science class. The FHTMS Library and Why Not? Team will collect batteries until the morning of the 25th. If you are interested, take a minute to review this Secret Life of Batteries webpage from Call2Recycle and consider cleaning out the corners of your home for old batteries.

    Rick Marcotte Central School Gardens and Poetry

    Did you know?  RMCS has a lovely vegetable and fruit garden tucked in the courtyard behind the gym. Your children may have already planted spinach and peas in it last week with Farm to School or will be going out in the next few weeks to plant potatoes, carrots, or squash with their classes. The garden belongs to the whole school community and individuals are encouraged to visit this relaxing (and delicious!) space. All excess produce will be donated to the South Burlington Food Shelf, as was the case last summer. If you would like to know more or would be willing to help with watering over the summer, please contact Amy Simone, UVM Extension Master Gardener at amyfsimone@gmail.com or (802) 343-3660.  

    In addition, teacher Danielle Vincent shared that one of her students, 5th grader Lucy Haas has had her poem, “Paper” published via the Young Writers Project. Congratulations! 

    Gertrude Chamberlin School Students Engage in STEM Projects

    Library Media Specialist Allison Balk began an exciting mini unit with students May 12 involving STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) projects. Activities included marble run building, Lego creativity on the Lego table, Keva plank structures, and much more!  

    Orchard School Playground Fundraiser Underway!

    Orchard students could be enjoying a new play structure when they return to school in the fall thanks to efforts of the PTO. Co-presidents Anna Leavy and Kristin Mount wrote that the “PTO is excited to announce that after a year of lockdown and restrictions, with your help, this summer the Orchard playground may be getting a major (and long overdue!) upgrade so that more outdoor play is possible!” Through June 18, you can donate to this project online here or you can send a check or cash into school with 'playground' on the envelope. 

    Thanks for reading and enjoy this weekend’s warmth! 

    Thanks,

    David