• December 22, 2021

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,

    It’s here! The early winter break and (yesterday) the winter solstice. While this marks the official start of winter, it also means we will begin to gain a little more light each day; a hopeful sign as we conclude the calendar year. Although the past 12 months (plus) have been difficult for us all, in the midst of these uncertain times, there have been many bright moments. Recently, I really enjoyed hearing about the fun our elementary students had naming VTrans snow plows and they just released this video on Vermont Plow Day! Keep your eyes peeled for our elementary schools and “their” plows. 

    And what would this time of year be without the Gertrude Chamberlin Winter Sing-A-Long! Hearing music return to our schools has been a welcome development this year. As I reflect on 2021, I am so grateful for all of you. I have witnessed  families, students, and staff alike, adapt remarkably well to ever changing circumstances and come together to support one another time and time again. Thank you for all you have and continue to do for our students and community! 

    Dates of Note:

    December 23-January 2: Early Winter Break - No School 

    January 5: Regular School Board Meeting in person and on Zoom, 7 pm 

    January 8: Holiday Tree Pickup Fundraiser for SBHS Music (details here)

    COVID in SBSD

    These numbers cover Thursday December 16 at 5 pm-Wednesday December 22 at 3 pm. Please note, we are only reporting cases that were infectious while in school.

    SBHS: 3

    FHTMS: 3

    GCS: 2

    RMCS: 2

    Orchard: 4

    In terms of holiday safety, please familiarize yourself with testing options, guidance on travel and quarantine, and consider keeping your gathering smaller than usual. If your student tests positive over break and they were in school during their infectious period, school nurses/school staff will not be available to contact trace. If you need assistance, please notify the Vermont Department of Health at 802-321-8330, Option 9. Also, if you or your student have symptoms, remember to stay home from celebrations and gatherings and get tested. At the Governor's Press briefing yesterday, he noted that free rapid antigen tests would be made available at various sites statewide on a first come, first serve basis beginning December 23. You can find the list of sites here

    We want you all to return to school and work after the break healthy and refreshed! Thank you! 

    Test-To-Stay

    Last week, we opened up TTS to PreK students in our District. This program will continue to be an important tool in keeping our unvaccinated students who have been deemed close contacts in school. From 12/16 - 12/22, we conducted 440 tests. Tomorrow, we will run a special session for students who will be on day 7 of their current testing regimen which will amount to about 50 additional students. In total, since we began TTS November 10, we have tested close to 1,000  students! And you may have heard that the CDC is getting on board with the benefits of using this strategy as well! I’m proud of Vermont for being an early adopter of this program. 

    COVID19 Vaccines and Boosters

    As we continue to watch our Vermont case numbers and the highly transmissible omicron variant, I would encourage you all to get your vaccine and booster if it's time (6 months after a Pfizer or Moderna two-dose vaccine or two months after a J & J). Recently, it was announced that 16 and 17 year olds are now eligible for the Pfizer booster if it has been at least 6 months since their second dose. If you are looking for more information on vaccination for 5-11 year olds, see this page from the VT Dept of Health.   

    RUVNA COVID Symptom Health Checks

    Thanks to all families and staff who have diligently filled out their RUVNA app daily! A quick note that over the break, students/families will not receive these notifications, but staff will continue to receive them on working days. If you are scheduled to work, please fill this out. If you are away, feel free to ignore them (but still self-monitor for COVID symptoms). 

    FY23 Budget

    Our next meeting on the FY23 proposed budget will take place at our school board meeting January 5, 2022. We will also have additional meetings featuring budget presentations and discussions January 12 and 19 with a joint steering committee meeting with the city January 24.  You can watch previous presentations on the  FY23 budget page on our District website. As we do annually, the school district will present our budget on Channel 17 Town Meeting TV January 20 at 5:30 pm. We’ll be sharing the link to tune in live when it becomes available. We have also scheduled our next community budget forum to hear from YOU. This will take place February 1 from 6:00-7:00 pm. Look for the Zoom link on the District website in the coming days.  In the meantime, if you have a budget related question, please email budget@sbschools.net.

    Running for the School Board!

    In March, we will have three open seats on the school board. In order to help individuals better understand what it is like to serve on the board, I recently hosted a Q and A session with City Clerk Donna Kinville, current board member Brian Minier, and former board members Diane Bugbee, Julie Beatty, and Martin LaLonde. Feel free to contact any current board members with questions you might have about running and you can find information about petitions and consent forms here. Join us! 

    School Happenings

    SBHS Staff and Community Gift Card Donations to Families total $3000!

    Nikki St. Mary, Coordinator of the  SBHS Career Development Center, reported that community members and SBHS staff have donated grocery and retail store gift cards totaling $3000. As a result, these will be distributed to nearly 50 families in need identified by school counselors and social workers. There are also now enough funds to support families over the two week February break as well! Well done all! 

    FHTMS Giving Tree a Success! 

    Donna Lemay and Kelly Tivnan, School Services Clinicians as well as Yvette Amblo and Matt Guyette, School Counselors at FHTMS are grateful and humbled by the response to the Giving Tree program this year.  2021 has presented continued challenges for many, and yet an amazing $1,600 plus in gift cards were donated!  School counselors and clinicians are in the process of distributing the cards to more than 40 families in our Tuttle community. The cards will help families with essentials and bring a little extra joy this season. What a tremendous display of generosity! 

    Gertrude Chamberlin School Featured in WCAX Series on PBiS

    GCS was featured on WCAX last week as a model PBiS (positive behavior interventions and supports) school! Many thanks to Lisa F, Megan, Christina F, Dan and Christina L for supporting the two news segments. If you missed them, you can watch them here and here. Way to go!

    RMCS Students Design Playhouses: It’s a Tradition! 

    Teacher Annick Cooper continued a tradition that has taken place in the fifth grade for 23 years: designing and making playhouses. Cooper said, “Students are given $50 to spend on supplies such as graham crackers, sugar cones, licorice, skittles etc...which each have a cost attached to them. They draw out their plan on grid paper with labels and color, fill out their order form utilizing their math skills of addition, multiplication, and subtraction. They even have to manipulate fractions because some items are sold by the 1/2 and 1/4 cups! Teachers fill the orders prior to building day. Students have two, one-hour sessions to build their creations, then judges from around the school cast their ballot for their top five. I tally them and we announce a winner.  We also take a photo of each student and their playhouse for them to take home.” See some photos of the creations (and winners!) in Principal Kilbourne’s latest newsletter for families.

    Orchard Students Donate Books to Refugees

    At Orchard School, this month's Reading to Raise Anti-Racists book was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING by Kao Kalia Yang. It's a story of a family of Hmong refugees. The book even inspired a schoolwide giving project! Each class (22 total!) donated a book to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Colchester, possibly supporting new Afghan refugees in Vermont. Classes signed the front of their book with a simple message like, "Welcome to Vermont" and each student's first name. There have been some fine discussions about refugees as students take action at this giving time of year. See photos on Orchard School's Instagram.

    As a reminder, I will be taking a break from the newsletter December 30 and will return to our regular Thursday schedule January 6. I wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy new year! I look forward to seeing you in 2022!

    Thank you,

    David