• September 17, 2021

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,

    Welcome to Friday. For most families, students, and staff, we have already been back to school for close to a month! I hope school is going well for you all and that students and staff are both enjoying and slowly adjusting to the return to in person learning and activities. We are always closely watching the VT COVID dashboard, the latest guidance from the Vermont Department of Health and the CDC, and frequently communicating with area Districts to stay on top of any new recommendations; then determining how those fit with our District. So far this year, we have only had one class that needed to quarantine (at Orchard School) last week due to a member of our learning community testing positive. Thank you for continuing to follow protocols to help protect yourself and others both in and outside of school. See further updates below. 

    Yesterday’s Situation at the MS/HS

    First of all, I want to thank you all for your patience and understanding yesterday as I, along with the administrative team and our public safety personnel worked to respond quickly and safely to the situation that took place. I have received some feedback around the timeliness of our communication out to parents/guardians regarding this situation. Thank you and please know you have been heard. I am going to be working with my team going forward to see how we can fine tune our process to make messages go out more quickly in the future, but please know that our first priority during emergencies is to make sure students and staff are safe, then communicate. This also gives us an opportunity to, in this case, talk to our SBPD and administrators to ensure that we are sharing accurate information and protecting student and staff privacy. Thank you to our entire community and I will be in touch when I have more information to share. 

    Mental Health: The Importance of Caring for Ourselves

    I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the stress we have all been enduring this past year and a half. Navigating personal and professional pressures while continuing to live in this unpredictable pandemic world is a challenge to say the least. As I have watched our families, students, and staff make a full time return to school, COVID concerns and precautions have been ever present even as we experience the excitement of being together in person. Last weekend, PATH (Planned Action Toward Health) offered this  webinar for school staff titled, “You’re not the only one who feels this way” which offered helpful tips and conversation.  Additional resources include: COVID SupportVT, First Call for Chittenden County, and our school counselors. If you need or want to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You are not alone.

    Update from the School Board: Join Us!

    The South Burlington School Board is seeking a candidate to fill a five-month vacancy on the School Board. On September 8, 2021 Rebecca Day tendered her resignation from the board. The board is working to fill the resulting vacancy within 30 days, by October 8, in order to comply with state statute. The candidate appointed by the remaining board members would serve until March 1, 2022 when voters will choose someone to fill the remaining two years of Ms. Day’s term. The appointed candidate would then have the opportunity to run for election for the remainder of the term if they chose. Potential applicants with questions about the role may contact any school board member(s) using their contact information found on this page. Interested citizens, who are legal voters of South Burlington, should submit 1) Board Vacancy Application 2021 and 2) a resume to Delina Gilroy at dgilroy@sbschools.net no later than: Thursday, September 30, 2021 at 4:00 pm Candidate interviews may take place at the October 6 board meeting. 

    The next regular school board meeting will take place next Wednesday, September 22. Watch for the agenda and Zoom link on the District website under announcements later today. You can also stream the meeting via The Media Factory website or attend in person at the FHTMS library. Board Chair Bridget Burkhardt and board member Brian Minier will also hold pop-in Zoom chats this coming Monday from noon-1 pm and 5-6 pm respectively. Find the participation information here.

    Thanks for Attending my Zoom Chat!

    Thanks to all who attended my Zoom chat this past week including Heather Danis, Public Health District Director at the Vermont Department of Health, General Pediatrician Breena Holmes, and Dr. Ben Lee, associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the UVM Larner College of Medicine. We discussed a range of COVID related health and safety topics and several resources were shared including the VT COVID dashboard, the current VT PreK-12 COVID data, guidance around travel and quarantine, and mask recommendations and ideas. As a reminder, we in the SBSD, both vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff will continue to wear masks in all of our schools until further notice. Stay tuned for my next Zoom coming in October.

    Surveillance Testing Update 

    The SBSD will soon begin participating in voluntary COVID19 surveillance testing every other Monday District wide. We are encouraging participation from both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals and feel this will be a valuable tool to guide our decision making throughout the school year. I will be sending out information this afternoon to families and staff that will include the links to the consent form required for all those interested in participating in testing. Parents/guardians will need to fill out this form for each of their student(s). Students 18 and over can fill out their own consent form.   

    We are currently exploring our staffing options in order to make this happen! That’s where you come in! If you are interested in assisting (these are paid positions!) you will need to attend training prior to joining us. Please email Delina Gilroy at dgilroy@sbschools.net. You can find more information about testing in this informational video from CIC. In the meantime, the state continues to offer numerous options for getting a COVID19 test if you need or want one.  

    COVID Symptoms and Testing

    Please remember to continue filling out your/your student(s) RUVNA app daily. Students and staff should stay home if they are not feeling well. If COVID-19 symptoms arise while at school, those individuals will be sent home. Next, consider contacting your student(s)/your healthcare provider. Even when experiencing mild symptoms, whether vaccinated or not, a COVID PCR test may be needed (at a testing site or through a healthcare provider). If testing occurred due to symptoms, the individual should stay home and avoid others, while awaiting the COVID test results.

    School Happenings

    SBHS Hires New Drama Director! 

    SBHS is excited to announce that Julia DiFerdinando will be SBHS’ new Drama Director! Ms. DiFerdinando is a 2011 graduate of UVM where she studied theater. After graduation, she studied and worked at Chicago’s prestigious Second City Comedy Club. Currently, she serves as the Creative Director for the Vermont Comedy Club. She will serve as the producer of the annual SBHS Key Club talent night and will plan, along with SBHS Choral Director Aimee Bushey, the fall musical. We are so excited to welcome Julia! 

    Farm to Go Program Kicks off for the Year at FHTMS!  

    Once again for the 2021-2022 school year, the Common Roots Farm-to-Go program is back! According to Carol McQuillen and Rebecca Chapdelaine, each week students have the opportunity to cook and then bring home their culinary creations to their family dinner tables. This week, student-chefs went home with a pasta chicken (organic) salad, made with farm-fresh veggies from a local farm which the students selected. They also made a salad with homemade dressing and cookie dough to bake at home.

    This six-week course fills up fast and sessions one and two have already sold out! Common Roots uses a sliding scale fee to facilitate access. Scholarships are also available. Sign up forms are available for session three at the middle school front office. Thanks to Health Teacher, Maureen Locker, who helps coordinate this program with Common Roots.

    The Common Roots Farmstand at South Village supports both the elementary program Farm to School program and this dynamic Farm to Go six-week course. In 13 years, Common Roots has helped student-chefs prepare over 13,000 meals! 

    Gertrude Chamberlin Students Tour the CSWD Materials Recovery Facility (MRF!) 

    Fourth graders in Chris Provost’s class were recently introduced to the MRF building by CSWD’s (Chittenden Solid Waste District) "Recycle Rhonda".  They learned about how the plant works and took a tour and were reminded that the first step in limiting waste is reducing what they use, then reusing, and finally recycling. Students were also reminded that all items that go into the blue bins must be washed out. Later this year, students will create WeVideos and posters of what they learned to share with the wider school community. 

    Rick Marcotte 5th Graders Earn PBIS Celebration 

    Students in Mrs. Cooper’s class recently earned a PBIS (positive behavioral interventions and supports) celebration themed “Yes Day!” When students asked if they could play games for 10 minutes, of course, the answer had to be yes! Well done! 

    Orchard Students Celebrate International Dot Day

    International Dot Day took place September 15 and Orchard School students participated in this global celebration based on a book, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. The story reminds students to take risks and try new things as they begin this new school year. All 400+ students have heard the tale and designed their own dots that now adorn the hall outside of the library. Many classes also have participated in dot activities from BreakoutEdu, StickTogether and QuiverVision. Please follow @OrchardVT on Twitter or @OrchardSchoolVT on Instagram to see images from this fun event. 

    Thanks for reading and enjoy the weekend!

    David