January 27, 2022
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
We have made it through another chilly week here in Vermont! I hope you have all been staying safe and warm, but for the brave out there, maybe you’ve been able to check out the beautiful SBHS ice rink. As many of you know, this week we continued our Test-to-Stay program for unvaccinated close contacts Monday-Friday and optional staff testing for asymptomatic individuals Monday-Thursday. Please see further updates on our transition to test at home below.
Before January slips away, I didn’t want to miss a chance during school board recognition month to acknowledge the incredible work, dedication, and contributions of our school board members. They, like all of us, have been juggling so much during these pandemic times in addition to their normal board work load. Thank you for all you do!
Dates of Note:
January 28: Early release day for elementary school students and late start for middle and high school students
February 1: Zoom Q and A on the Proposed FY23 Budget 6-7 pm(more on that below)
February 2: School Board meeting at 7 pm (Link and agenda on District website tomorrow)
COVID in SBSD
You can find the weekly cases by school on our District website. The reporting time frame remains the same: Thursday of the prior week to the current Thursday.
COVID Protocols Update
As many of you are aware from my previous correspondence as well as local news coverage, Vermont school districts have been directed by the Vermont Agency of Education to transition away from contact tracing, surveillance testing, and test-to-stay to a test at home strategy. While we awaited an adequate supply of antigen tests, I decided to continue our test-to-stay program Monday through Friday for unvaccinated close contacts and offered free rapid COVID19 antigen testing to asymptomatic staff Monday-Thursday.
Next week, as part of our transition to the new protocols, we will only run test-to-stay Monday, January 31-Wednesday February 2. However, students will have the option of testing at home rather than coming to 577 Dorset Street. Asymptomatic staff antigen testing will be offered Monday, January 31-Thursday February 3 from 3-4:15 pm. Staff can test every day the site (577 Dorset Street) is open. If it will be your first time participating, please register here. You only need to register once.
In terms of distribution of take-home antigen tests, this will begin tomorrow, January 28, for students in grades PreK-12. Directions on when to perform the test will be included with the kits. More details for both students and staff on this rollout will be forthcoming, but if families have questions in the meantime, please contact your school directly. Staff who have COVID19 related concerns, should contact Maura Sawtelle in Human Resources. Thank you for your patience as we shift to this new system.
FY23 Budget: Opportunities to Learn More
Last week, school board Chair Bridget Burkhardt, Director of Operations and Finance Gary Marckres, and our Executive Director for Learning Violet Nichols presented our proposed FY23 budget on Town Meeting TV. If you missed it, you can check it out on Town Meeting TV's YouTube Channel. We also had a steering committee meeting this week with the city where we presented our respective budgets. As a reminder, all of our budget related videos and slides are posted to our SBSD Budget webpage with our budget book coming soon. Our next Q and A on the budget for all will take place February 1 over Zoom from 6-7 pm.
Upcoming Zoom about SB Explore!
Kevin Downey and Nikki St. Mary are going to host a Zoom meeting February 9 from 6-6:30 pm (Meeting ID: 848 6022 8291 Passcode: yGMp1h) for parents/guardians about SB Explore flexible pathways. They will give an overview about offerings like Big Picture, Project Lab, Service Thesis Project, internships, and more with several students on the call to share their experiences.
Looking for the latest city news? Check out their current and archived issues of the enews! In addition to information on their proposed budget, activities, and events, they also share upcoming meetings. The South Burlington Planning Commission has set up a volunteer Airport Rezoning Task Force to consider a possible zoning change to allow aviation-related uses and buildings on land east of Airport Parkway, in the vicinity of Kirby Road Extension. The Task Force is just getting underway, and is asking for community ideas and input as they begin their work to consider this change. If interested, you can join Virtually/Online: here or by phone: (872) 240-3311, Access Code: 919-877-869 or in person at City Hall, 180 Market Street. Unavailable? Drop them a line via email to email@example.com with your thoughts on or before February 3rd. To learn more about the request, the area, and what the Airport Rezoning Task Force has reviewed in their first two meetings, visit the project website.
SB Big Picture Program’s Minelle Sarfo-Adu Garners Scholarship
SB Big Picture Program Senior Minelle Sarfo-Adu recently received two honors! One was an honorable mention for the Vermont Presidential Scholars Program and she also received a 2022 NIAAA/Vermont Student Scholarship (National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association). In addition to her studies at Big Picture, she is currently enrolled in early college through CCV with a focus on business courses. Minelle is a student athlete who participates in volleyball, indoor and outdoor track in addition to serving on the city’s affordable housing committee. Well done!
FHTMS Students Participate in GeoBee
Teacher Christine St. Clair let me know that 25 students representing all 6 teams participated in the school Geo Bee last week. While the national Geo Bee has been canceled due to COVID, the social studies department decided to hold the schoolwide competition anyway, as all grades in the middle school study geography in some capacity. All students participated in the first round, which consisted of 7 questions each, then the 10 students with the highest score moved on to the next round, then the final 2 competed against each other in the final. The winning question was "The Seikan Tunnel connects the island of Hokkaido to what other Japanese island?" The answer was Honshu. Sarah Meisenzahl and Christine asked the questions of the students. In pre-covid years, the winner would go on to a state competition and then that winner would go to a national competition in DC. St Clair noted, “Since none of that could happen, we just supplied prizes of candy, toys and gift cards to Barnes and Noble, plus little trophies. Sam Kelly of Polaris (6th grade) got 3rd place, Amos Foster of Dorset House (7th) got 2nd place and the winner was Ruben Touber of Dorset House (7th)!”
Gertrude Chamberlin Students Create Interactive Multimedia Books
Principal Rouelle reported that fourth grade students at GCS are learning to create interactive, multimedia books combining textured backgrounds, images, selfie photos, text, and voice recordings with Ms. Murphy and IT Educator Ms. Courcelle. Students are using Book Creator, a web-based book creation application to build “All About Me” books as a way to explore all the features and functions that are available. Upon completion, students will be able to browse other students’ creations in a virtual library. Students are having fun expressing their creativity in a new way with a new application. Later this year, students will apply their skills using Book Creator to showcase and share their knowledge on non-fiction topics they have researched.
RMCS Students Compete in Online Chess Tournament
Mrs. Kavanagh's class had an online chess tournament celebration last week! Mrs. Kavanagh's student teacher, Ms. Caragher, built a bracket, and Mrs. Kavanagh did a live (random) drawing for the names. Opponents found each other online and battled to make it to the next round. All students participated in the tournament and had so much fun! The winner was Cyrus!
Orchard Students to Take Part in World Read Aloud Day
This coming Wednesday, Orchard students will be Zooming with some of their favorite authors as they take part in World Read Aloud Day. Connections will be made to the authors of "Red, White, and Whole," the "She Persisted" series, and "I Can Make Exciting Electronics," among others. We can't wait!
Thanks for reading and have a great Friday and weekend,