September 18, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,
Welcome back! We had a great first few days last week getting to know our new staff, students, and families and reuniting with those returning. We are so thankful to be able to resume some in-person learning and this beautiful September weather has allowed for ample use of our outdoor classrooms (Thanks Vermont Tent Company!). We have completed our first full week of school in our hybrid model and so far, so good. While we will continue to have items to iron out as we find our rhythm, I am so thankful for all of you! Your patience, flexibility, and feedback are appreciated.
Status of Reopening
After comments from the Governor and Secretary of Education and given Vermont’s relative success in managing the spread of COVID, there has been some speculation about schools moving to Step III and returning to in-person instruction with all students present each day. After working all summer to prepare teachers for Step II: Hybrid Learning, I want you to know that we will not be making any sudden changes to our approach. Students and teachers need clear, predictable routines and are still settling into Hybrid Learning. Many families have made child care and transportation arrangements and we know that changing from one step to another creates significant logistical challenges for both families and schools. We will be following the facts on the ground closely and will give our schools and families a few weeks’ notice before moving to full time, in-person learning to allow all involved ample time to prepare. We want to avoid making a rash decision prematurely that requires us to quickly revert back to Step II: Hybrid Learning, or even worse, Step I: Remote Learning. As social events and gatherings move inside with the cooler weather, we will keep families informed of how we’re doing and any changes to our current plan.
Individual School Reopening Videos
Even though our traditional open houses couldn’t be held this year, our elementary principals, teachers, and staff used Flipgrid to create short welcoming videos. Families were able to get to know their school’s teachers and staff and in some cases, tour their classrooms, via these recorded snippets. If you missed them or want to get to know the team members that fill our elementary schools throughout the year, check out the following: Rick Marcotte Central School staff and teachers, Orchard School staff and teachers, and Gertrude Chamberlin School staff and teachers.
In addition, individual school reopening videos were created to give students and families an idea of what to expect when entering our schools this year. The Chamberlin School video was made by members of their PBiS team along with Molly Weaver, Rochelle McGurn and Marshall Murphy. At Orchard School, Rachel Valliere, Marguerite Adams, Bobby Hamlin, and Cheryl McCabe collaborated to create their video. The Central School video was made thanks to their PBiS team, Ashley Wilson, and Michelle Cannon. At FHTMS, technology teacher Carly Brassord made their video about entering school ,while PE instructors Anjie Soucy and Chadde Wolf made sure students knew what to expect from Physical Education this year.
Over at SBHS, Kristine Harootunian developed and launched their own reopening site with FAQs, documents, and links to webinars, as well as this reopening video showing the school arrival process (thanks to John Craig and Denise Weaver). You can also check out SBHS focused quick hit videos on Instagram and Facebook @sbhsvt that answer even more back to school questions such as where to get lunch and what to do if one needs to see the school nurse during the school day. Well done all!
On September 9, SBHS Junior Grace Johnson, South Burlington High School’s Director of Student Activities Michael Jabour, and Principal Patrick Burke were featured in this awesome video and commentary on Education Week: “The Case for Continuing Sports Remotely.” Principal Burke wrote the opinion piece that accompanies the compelling video interview between Ms. Johnson and Mr. Jabour. Ms. Johnson, a track and field and soccer athlete, discussed the adjustments she had to make to her training due to the pandemic and the importance of maintaining relationships with her coaches during school closure this past spring. Thanks to our coaches (and co-curricular advisors) who worked hard to stay connected to their students at a time when they needed it most.
VTVLC Classes Began Monday
Classes for students enrolled in the 100 percent remote learning option through the Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative (VTVLC) began Monday, September 14th. As of this writing, South Burlington had 167 total students participating; 70 in grades K-5, 30 in grades 6-8, and 67 in grades 9-12.The District has 9 teachers participating and there will be 1 teacher per 20 students. We also have a South Burlington focused K-8 VTVLC Coordinator, Dr. Shelley Mathias, who will be regularly connecting and communicating with South Burlington families who have chosen this option. Pat Burke is the coordinator for students in grades 9-12 who are enrolled. We are continuing to communicate with VTVLC to work through glitches that have arisen due to demand and to ensure this learning option goes as smoothly as possible for our students and families.
We had our first run with our new bus routes last week and they were further refined September 11. The latest updates to our South Burlington routes were made September 16 and can be found on our District website. Please bear with us as we may need to adjust times, rearrange trips, and add routes. Routes are organized by school, days of attendance, AM / PM, stop time, and stop location. If you have questions around transportation or your family’s needs have changed, please contact Gary Marckres at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kathy LaRock at email@example.com.
Access to Meals
Meal delivery via bus began September 14. Delivery is available to all students on the days they are engaged in remote learning. Please order meals to be delivered ONLY for the days your student(s) will be learning remotely. If your student will be learning remotely all five days, you may order for all five days. Delivery order forms are posted weekly on Wednesdays on the menus tab of the Nutritional Services page of the district website. The online ordering system is only for the days your student(s) is engaged in remote learning at home. You do not need to order meals in advance on the days that your child is in school or enrolled in a School's Out or Pre-K program located in a school building.
Orders must be submitted by Friday at 1 PM for the following week and you will need to place an order for each student in your household. Home delivery will occur between 10:30 AM and 12 PM, Monday-Friday. The delivery option will also be extended to the community, but individuals will need to contact Rhonda Ketner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 652-7160 to be added to the delivery list. These individuals will also need to order in advance.
The drive through pickup site operation continues at the concession stand in the Farrell Family Pavillion on Munson Field/Iverson Track from 9 AM- 10:30 AM, Monday-Friday. Please follow signs to the pickup area and wear a mask. This pickup site can be accessed by anyone under the age of 18 in our community and signup is not required. Breakfast and lunch will be picked up together.
Health Screening Tool
Our health screening tool launched for all staff Friday, September 11 and went “live” for families Monday, September 14. Parents/guardians are responsible for conducting health screenings of their child(ren) at home prior to boarding our buses and/or dropping their child(ren) off at our schools. Families and staff should have received a communication from me late last week to notify you all that we would be launching this tool and that using it would be an expectation. As a reminder, you should receive a text, an email, or both, based on your contact information in PowerSchool, at 6:30 AM, on the days in which your child is to attend school in person (Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday). If you have not answered the health screening questions by 6:30 AM, you will be prompted to answer the questions again. We conduct on-site temperature checks as well. It is critical that you complete these questions prior to coming to school to help keep our schools safe!
Thanks to all of our parents/guardians, staff, and community members who made our first week back a success! Your commitment and vigilance to the three W’s: washing your hands, wearing your masks, and watching your distance will help contribute to our sustained wellbeing.