• January 20, 2022

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,

    It has been another busy week in our District navigating COVID protocol shifts and this has not been easy for any of us, so I want to thank you for your patience, understanding, and ongoing dedication to our school community. I know there continue to be questions about how the District will implement the new guidance from the AOE that directs school districts to stop contact tracing and adjust their current testing protocols, in our case, Test-to-Stay. 

    While I agree it is not sustainable to have so much staff time spent contact tracing and testing through our Test-To-Stay program, I also know that testing has provided a great amount of reassurance to staff and families. One of my goals is to try to quell anxiety and stress for staff and students and I believe our current strategy has helped. Therefore, while we await a consistent supply of antigen tests to distribute more widely, we will be staying the course with our current methods of contact tracing, Test-To-Stay for unvaccinated close contacts (Monday through Friday of next week), and offering rapid antigen testing to any asymptomatic staff member who would like one, on site at 577 Dorset Street again, Monday through Thursday.

    In order to provide clarity, we have updated our SBSD protocols informed by the VT Department of Health regarding what to do if you test positive. I also wanted to share that effective yesterday, individuals can order FREE rapid antigen tests through the USPS or at COVIDtests.gov. Tests are limited to 4 per household and are anticipated to ship out later this month. If you are looking to get a PCR test, there are many weekly and often daily, free opportunities in Chittenden County to have one done.

    Looking for even more information? On Monday, January 17, in an effort to answer questions around the new AOE guidelines and Omicron, the SBSD hosted a panel discussion with local doctors, Leah Costello, Breena Holmes, and Ben Lee which was recorded by Media Factory. I hope you find this helpful!

    Also, as you may have heard or read, the SBSD, in partnership with the Vermont Department of Health, held a FREE COVID19 Pfizer vaccine clinic today for all eligible individuals including community members. We continue to encourage anyone who is eligible, to please get your booster or if you haven’t already, get vaccinated

    Finally, I wanted to remind everyone that masks are a great mitigation tool we have and the Health Department recommends wearing a high-quality mask to help limit the spread of COVID-19, including variants like Omicron. Examples of high-quality masks are N95 or KN95 masks, which are very good at blocking droplets. This helpful infographic outlines the layers of protection offered by a variety of masks.

    I appreciate how diligent you all have been in continuing to fill out your/your student(s) RUVNA questionnaire daily and honestly and staying home when sick. We have come so far together and I am optimistic we can and will make it through this latest phase of the pandemic.

    Dates of Note:

    January 20 at 5:30 pm, Channel 17 FY23 Budget Presentation 

    January 24 at 6:30 pm, City and School Steering Committee (Link on District website tomorrow)

    January 28: Early release day at Elementary schools and late start at MS/HS

    COVID in SBSD

    You may have wondered last week where our weekly dashboard had gone? While it was accidentally omitted and the numbers added to the letter on our website later that night, it gave me time to reflect on a different reporting space separate from these newsletters. You can now find the weekly cases by school on our District website. The reporting timeframe will remain the same: Thursday of the prior week to the current Thursday. 

    FY23 Budget: Upcoming Opportunities to Learn More

    Last week, our school board unanimously approved the administration’s recommended budget. You can watch the presentation at the Media Factory website and the slides are posted to our SBSD Budget webpage. Our annual budget presentation at Channel 17 is occurring right now! January 20 at 5:30 pm. The city will hold their forum January 25 at 5:30 pm. Forums air live on Comcast channel 1087, online at www.ch17.tv, and will be live-streamed on Town Meeting TV's YouTube Channel. The public is invited to participate virtually and viewers are encouraged to call 802-862-3966 to ask their municipal officials, District staff, and board members questions. Our next Q and A on the budget for all will take place February 1 over Zoom from 6-7 pm. 

    Run for the School Board: Petition Deadline January 24!

    We are going to have three openings on our school board in March and we’d love YOU to join us! We held a Zoom Q and A with current and former board members as well as City Clerk Donna Kinville to give people a feel for what it’s like to be a board member. Ready to run? Petitions for local office are due by 5:00 pm January 24. A petition requires at least 30 valid signatures of registered voters of South Burlington. We strongly encourage anyone who is considering running to please contact the City Clerk's office to get the appropriate forms and to get some guidance on filling out petitions and deadlines. You can find the forms here. You can also contact any current board member to learn more!

    Invitation to Serve on the FHTMS Principal Search Committee

    With the announcement of the position opening for the FHTMS Principal for FY23, the District will soon begin the search process and has engaged Patrick Phillips, retired SBHS Assistant Principal to lead the process.  Please be assured that the selection of the FHTMS Principal is of utmost importance and we will be diligent in our efforts to involve as many people as reasonably possible. To accomplish this, we will use a process similar to that used by the District in the past, the engagement of selected administrators, teachers, staff, and community members.  

    If you are interested in participating, please fill out this form and forward it to Patrick Phillips, by  Wednesday, January 25.  We will review the information and be back in touch with you on the committee member selection process. Thanks for your consideration!

    School Happenings

    SBHS Students get into Improv

    Laughter really is the best medicine, especially this year (and last year and the year before that)! SBHS Drama Director Julia DeFerdinando will be working with any interested students in improvising, writing, and laughing together on Mondays and Wednesdays in the auditorium to prepare for a comedy night performance February 11th and 12th. I’m really looking forward to checking this out.

    FHTMS Farm to Go Program: January Session Gets Underway Next Week!

    The Farm to Go program, a partnership with local nonprofit Common Roots, is so popular with FHTMS students that it fills up quickly and the January session has continued that trend (although there are 8 slots currently available for March). What’s the buzz all about? Chef Rebecca Chapdelaine explained that as the weeks progress, students “learn a variety of skills from knife skills, making emulsions, roux and curries! We have an amazing group of UVM interns helping this semester and they are all excited to share their nutrition and sustainability knowledge with the students. Each week, every student goes home with enough food to feed their entire family as well as the knowledge to teach their family about the food they made, why it is nutritious, delicious, and local!” I’ve heard of students even getting excited about turning their homes into mini restaurants with menus provided for family members. Way to build connections between local farms and food, students, and families!  

    Central School 4th Graders Learn about Salmon

    Last year, it was trout eggs and this year it’s salmon! Teacher Patrick Knepp is helping his students learn experientially yet again through a partnership with Trout Unlimited. This year, Knepp requested salmon rather than trout and the organization said yes! The class received around 200 "eyed" eggs, meaning the eggs were fertilized so that students can see the eyes of the baby fish inside.  Knepp said, “They have begun hatching already and the class is super excited.  We will raise them until the end of the year, then release them into a tributary of the Winooski river. Over the course of their time in the class the kids will be learning about animal adaptations, salmon's historical presence in VT, conservation, and geography.  It is tons of fun, and we hope to continue doing it.”

    Chamberlin School’s the Friendly Slice, Bahrenburg’s Bakery, and Sundae Funday, Open for Business!

    Chamberlin’s Pre-K and K teams have been working to include more play in their curriculum to support SEL (social emotional learning) as well as academic learning. Enter, The Friendly Slice, Bahrenburg's Bakery, and Sundae Funday  ice cream shop! Students are making the items, creating menus, and today, the Friendly Slice held their grand opening!  Teachers and staff were able to make a reservation (serving 4 people at a time). The payment method? Bee Bucks of course! Check out some of the photos on Principal Rouelle's Twitter.

    Orchard School Students' Twitter Takeover

    Have you checked out Orchard School’s Twitter lately? If so, you’ll notice that last week, students were running the feed. Librarian Donna Sullivan-MacDonald reported that “since the American Library Association will be announcing which book(s) will be receiving the prestigious Caldecott Medal next week, fourth and fifth grade students have been using the judging criteria set up by the ALA to evaluate preselected books deemed worthy of the award.  Teams of students have taken over the Orchard School Twitter account to inform authors and illustrators about their choice for Orchard School's "Mock Caldecott" award. Students have been delighted to read replies from their tweets!”

    Looks like we’re headed for another cold snap. Could be a great time to check out FHTMS Drama’s Peter and the Starcatcher, which was performed at the SBHS Auditorium last weekend. Bravo to the students, families, and staff who made this happen and thanks to Chris Johnstone for the livestream! 

    Have a great Friday and weekend,

    David