September 30, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
One of my favorite things about having students and staff back in school full time is randomly bumping into people and having spontaneous conversations. This happened to me this week when I ran into Khaddouj Baaja on what happened to be her last day with the District after 17 years of service as a night shift custodian! Khaddouj’s supervisor Alexis Seraus said, “Khaddouj was a hard worker, dependable and finished her job on time. It was a pleasure to work with her.” I am so thankful for her and our entire team who have gone above and beyond during these times of additional cleaning procedures due to COVID-19.
In other news, tonight at 6:30 pm at the SBHS turf field Gertrude Chamberlin students will be showing off the circus skills they learned during the artist in residence program that they have been engaged with for the past couple of weeks with Troy Wunderle and his Big Top Adventures. Check out this segment MyNBC5 did giving a preview of the fun!
See updates on my next Zoom chat, surveillance testing, and more below.
COVID Update in SBSD
We have not had any new COVID-19 cases in our District this week! Thank you for continuing to practice mitigation strategies in and outside of school including staying home when sick, hand washing, and physical distancing in addition to masking and taking extra precautions when gathering indoors. We continue to carefully monitor the VT COVID dashboard, the current VT PreK-12 COVID data, and guidance around travel and quarantine.
My Next Zoom for Families this Tuesday!
Please join me and special guests for my next Zoom pop-in chat for families this coming Tuesday, October 5, from 6-7 pm (Meeting ID: 840 3096 3269 Passcode: 121872). Our Director of Learning, Violet Nichols will join me at the beginning to give an overview of ESSER funds. These are one-time funds for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) provided for by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
Afterward, we will move on to COVID-19 related topics including vaccines for children and recent testing options including “test to stay.” I will be joined by Rebecca Bell, MD, MPH, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine, UVM Pediatric Critical Care at UVM Children's Hospital, and President, Vermont Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Please bring your comments, questions, and concerns or just listen!
Transportation Kudos and Reminder
We are so appreciative of the patience of our families and dedication of our staff as we have navigated transportation this year. We understand that inconsistencies impact daily schedules and are inconvenient. The transportation team cares about your students and is doing their best every day to support them. Our Director of Operations and Finance Gary Marckres recently reiterated that this group plays a “huge and often underappreciated role in enabling access to education and co-curricular activities for the majority of our students. They have consistently stepped up to deliver meals and supplies during the pandemic and are an incredible resource to the South Burlington community.”
Want to join this amazing crew? WE ARE HIRING! The bus garage phone number is 802-652-7498. Feel free to call if you’re interested in joining our team! South Burlington is looking for four additional drivers to decrease the pressure on our current driving staff. Transportation monitors are also a critical component of our staff and we could use at least two additions. Finally, a quick note to families, please have conversations with your student(s), if you can, about staying masked while on the bus and helping the driver by following bus safety rules.
School Safety Tip Line
We were recently made aware of and wanted to share this resource: the VT AOE School Safety tip line. The purpose of this tip line is to enhance school safety and security by providing students, faculty, staff as well as members of the community with a tool to report concerning behaviors that may have a negative impact on our schools. These tips will assist law enforcement, human service providers and school administrators in identifying school threats and coordinating assistance to students and families for services not needing an immediate response. Any student, parent/guardian, educator or member of the community can utilize this tip line at no cost. All tips are anonymous.
COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters
Next week, on Thursday, October 6, SBHS will host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic from 9-5 for those aged 12 and above. To be clear, this pop-up site is NOT for those seeking a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine. However, we wanted to make staff and families aware that On Friday, October 1st, registration will open for those who are eligible for a booster. This includes certain age groups, those with underlying health conditions, and those who work in high risk, public facing professions including education. Eligible individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months ago will be able to make an online appointment through the health department here. Important notes:
- You must wait 6 months before registering.
- You can get the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same time or close together (i.e flu and booster).
- Bring your COVID-19 vaccine card to the appointment.
Booster shots are only available, at this time, to those who received the Pfizer vaccine. To determine which vaccine you received (and the dates), look at your vaccine card. Lost it? See these directions for replacement. You can find a full list of FAQs about the booster shot from the VT Department of Health here.
Surveillance Testing Update
As many of you know, we have been planning to roll out a voluntary Covid-19 Surveillance Testing Program for students and staff beginning in mid-October. At the Governor’s September 28 press conference, Secretary of Education Dan French discussed several other testing strategies to help schools reduce the time they spend contact tracing and to keep students in school via a “Test to Stay'' program which would use rapid antigen tests for asymptomatic and unvaccinated students who have been deemed close contacts. An antigen test would be conducted each day for 7 days after the last possible exposure. We are considering this as well as our surveillance testing program and are awaiting further information from the Vermont Agency of Education prior to deciding how to proceed with these testing methods. The test to stay method is supported by the Vermont Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and has been used widely in Massachusetts with success. Our goal is always to keep students and staff safely in school. Testing is one of the best ways we can mitigate the spread of COVID-19. More information to come.
School Board Updates
Thanks to all who applied to fill the remaining 5 months of Rebecca Day’s term on the school board! We anticipate conducting interviews at our next regular school board meeting Wednesday, October 6 beginning at 7 pm. You can participate in person, via Zoom, or watch the meeting streamed by the Media Factory. The agenda and Zoom link will be posted to the District website tomorrow afternoon.
In addition, you can connect with board members via Zoom. Join Board Chair Bridget Burkhardt or board member Brian Minier this coming Monday from noon-1 pm and 5-6 pm respectively. Find the participation information here. Join us!
SBHS’ Journalism Club will Host (Virtually) VTDigger’s Ben Heintz
This Friday when the SBHS journalism club meets, they will virtually welcome VTDigger’s Ben Heintz who will discuss the Underground Workshop which “empowers young Vermonters to engage in the public sphere as journalists, reporting and publishing for a statewide audience. The Workshop is a collaborative community, led by a team of student editors from ten of Vermont’s high schools and colleges. Any student is welcome to attend, to pitch ideas for stories, to submit drafts for feedback, or just to listen in. Students can submit work at any time, and in a range of formats, from feature stories to news briefs and Q&A's, and they're always seeking photographs and videos for their instagram page.” While SB students have yet to participate, this meeting could be the springboard for involvement!
FHTMS’ Fusion! Heads to Philo!
It’s officially fall and a great time to explore Vermont’s natural areas. The Fusion! team at FHTMS will be taking advantage of the weather tomorrow as they explore Mt. Philo. English teacher Lori Centerbar wrote, “We plan to divide the students and take a variety of trails to get to the top. Once there, we will continue to build and strengthen our Fusion! Community by having a few team-building activities and also by simply sharing some time getting to know each other in an effort to foster strong relationships for our next two years together.” Sounds perfect.
Gertrude Chamberlin School Students Fill their Hive
Chamberlin students have been doing a great job following school expectations and have filled the hive with honey cells. This year they are, "We are kind, We are responsible. We are safe." Classes have cashed in their bee bucks for honey cells which means tomorrow will be an all school celebration! Students can wear their favorite T-shirt and mismatched or colorful socks! Way to go!
Rick Marcotte Central Students Learned about Apples in Farm to School This Week
Lauren Jones, Farm to School Educator for Common Roots has returned to SB’s elementary schools with Farm to School lessons and this week, Central students had the chance to learn about apples and engage in the hands-on activity of making apple butter. The apple butter that was made in class was donated to the Common Roots Farmstand and the SB Food Shelf. Yum!
Orchard Reading to Raise Anti-Racists enters year two
The second year of Orchard's school wide initiative titled "Reading to Raise Anti-Racists" is underway! During this year-long project, every class will be using picture books as a springboard for meaningful, transformative conversations to help gain an understanding of people whose racial, cultural or gender identity may be different from their own. In addition to rich classroom discussions, each grade level team will share something about the month's book during a whole school Morning Meeting Zoom. September's book was Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and October's book is A Journey Towards Hope by Victor Hinojosa & Coert Voorhees.
Thanks for reading and have a great Friday and weekend,