January 6, 2022
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
Happy New Year and welcome back to school and work! As one can imagine, a large focus of our time upon return has been on the ever evolving guidance around COVID19 vaccination, boosters, isolation and quarantine. In an effort to reassure families that schools are safe due to the universal precautions we have in place such as mask wearing, hand washing, and upgraded air filtration systems, I held a Zoom Sunday afternoon, January 2, with medical professionals Drs Becca Bell and Breena Holmes, prior to sending my note to families and staff outlining our current COVID guidelines. The purpose was to allow space for individuals to be heard and ask questions of our fantastic pediatricians. The recording has not yet been posted because some conflicting information around the time needed for quarantine was mentioned, but after hearing from some of you about how beneficial this session was overall, we will be sharing a link to this on our website soon.
Something we heard a lot on the call were concerns around masking, both the type of masks to wear and their proper use. The Vermont Agency of Education and Department of Health continue to encourage masking in indoor settings and masks are required in our schools and on our buses. Please make sure you (or your student) are bringing clean masks to school and wearing them properly (over the nose AND mouth). A well fitting mask is also key.
In terms of testing, while some were able to take advantage of the free rapid antigen tests made available by the state over the holidays and additionally to families with school aged children December 30 and 31 at various drive up sites statewide, I understand they are currently in short supply. To that end, Governor Scott announced today that beginning next week the State of Vermont will use a program developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to deliver 500,000 recently acquired rapid COVID-19 tests to households across the state. Participating Vermonters will need to provide their name and address for test kit delivery, which will not be shared. No additional personal information will be required to get a free rapid test kit. The State will announce details, and how to order, next week.
Thank you all for your patience as I continue to watch and respond to rapidly evolving conditions and guidance. I will be in touch as soon as I have additional items to report regarding any of our protocols.
Upcoming Dates of Note:
January 8: Holiday Tree Pickup Fundraiser for SBHS Music (details here)
January 12: Special Board Meeting on the FY23 Budget (look for agenda and link soon)
January 18: No School - Martin Luther King Jr.
SBSD COVID Update
Statewide, we are seeing a post holiday increase in COVID19 cases and according to the latest modeling from the VT Department of Financial Regulation, the Omicron variant is now the dominant strain in Vermont. We all have a role to play in keeping one another safe and healthy.I am encouraging everyone who is eligible to please get vaccinated and if it is time, get boosted. Some guidance around who can get a booster and when changed this week. You should get a booster if you are 12 or older and you received:
-your Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago or
-your second dose of Moderna vaccine at least six months ago or
-your second dose of Pfizer vaccine at least five months ago
Registration through the Health Department is now open for boosters for children ages 12-15. (approved by the CDC 1/5/22). A third dose for immunocompromised children aged 5-11 was also approved by the CDC 1/4/22. You can find a list of vaccine clinics here.
The cases below are from Monday, January 3-Thursday January 6 at 4:30 pm. Please note, we are only reporting cases that were infectious while in school.
Our Test-to-Stay program for unvaccinated close contacts continues to go well thanks to families, staff, and volunteers who have been assisting. The program is serving its purpose of keeping students in school. For the week of January 3-January 6, we tested 99 students. For the moment, we are keeping the program open to only unvaccinated close contacts. Please note that the current definition of fully vaccinated is two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the J&J. We understand that this definition could change to include those who are boosted, but as of this writing, the current guidelines stand.
Our FY23 budget development process has continued as more state level data has become available. At last night’s school board meeting, myself, along with Director of Operations and Finance Gary Marckres, Business Manager Krista Chadwick, and Director of Learning Violet Nichols discussed currently known factors impacting the budget and proposed additions. You can watch the presentation at the Media Factory website and the slides are posted to our SBSD Budget webpage. Our next meeting on the budget will take place next Wednesday, January 12 beginning at 6:00 pm (agenda and Zoom link to follow). Our next regular board meeting will take place Wednesday January 19 with our annual budget presentation at Channel 17 occurring January 20 at 5:30 pm.
So far, we have held two community forums on the budget and after it is approved by the school board, we will host a Zoom Q and A February 1 from 6:00-7:00 pm. The link to join this session will be posted soon. We appreciate everyone who has attended our virtual sessions so far and submitted questions and feedback. Keep it coming!
Run for the School Board!
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 recently 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 on the 6th Monday before the election date. 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!
Executive Director of Equity Hiring Update
With the recent announcement of the search for an Executive Director of Equity, the District has engaged the services of Rhiannon Kim, M.S., CCC-SLP, Ed.D. Candidate, as educational consultant to coordinate the search process. Many of you may know Rhiannon from her past employment and trauma-informed equity work in the District and her present work with leadership and equity issues.
This position will be crucial to the District as we continue to work to support all of our learners and the South Burlington District as a whole in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Please be assured that the selection of this position 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, including the use of a steering committee, the engagement of selected administrators, teachers, staff, students, and community members.
The involvement of the school community is important to the success of this selection process and many opportunities will exist for involvement. Any staff member, student, family and/or community member who is actively interested in participating in the selection process for the Executive Director of Equity is encouraged to complete the Google Application form by Friday, January 14, 2022.
SBHS Student Journalist featured on VT This Week!
Do you ever listen to VT This Week Friday nights on VPR? It’s a great program that recaps Vermont happenings with local journalists and the December 24 episode featured local high school journalists including our very own SBHS Senior, Tanmayi Nazre! Take a listen to the recording here. And if that leaves you wanting to read/hear more, check out the latest edition of the SBHS paper the Howling Herald.
FHTMS Play Coming Up!
Tuttle Middle School, in association with the First Light Theatre Project, is bringing Peter and the Starcatcher to the SB community next week. This cleverly spun tale is the prequel to Peter Pan and gives us the origin of many of the Neverland characters. Not just for kids, this unique production offers ingenious stagecraft, scenic set designs and clever humor that will delight all ages. David Bailey and Wendy Valastro have teamed up to provide artistic and musical direction.The show will take place at the South Burlington High School Auditorium on Friday, January 14 and Saturday January 15 (livestream available for Saturday show only and will be posted soon). Both shows begin at 7 pm and tickets, which are $10 for adults and $6 for students and seniors, may be purchased at the door or in advance here. Masks are required for all attendees. We look forward to seeing you!
Gertrude Chamberlin Students Persevere in WolfPack Time (and life!)
Perseverance. It’s a skill we have all finely tuned over the past 18 plus months and our students are no exception! According to Principal Rouelle, this Wednesday’s WolfPack time lesson “helped students understand how it feels to persevere and work together using two fun “Minute to Win It” activities, using cups, paper plates and card stock. Students worked on one of two challenges or both if they had the time. In "Stack It!" they worked with their team on stacking 6 cups and 3 paper plates. In "Collapse the Stack," groups tried to stack the cups just right so they centered on the paper, and then they pulled out the sheets of paper so the cups (hopefully) collapsed onto each other. They had a minute to try to complete the challenge! It was wonderful to see groups working together and trying different strategies for each round and not getting frustrated when it didn't work every time!” Check out pics on Principal Rouelle's Twitter
RMCS Students Embrace Winter Weather on Skis
Students in all grades have been enjoying the wintery conditions in PE with teacher Doug Day for the much loved ski unit! Day wrote, “RMCS PE has been skiing in January and February for 25 years (+!). All grades K-5 come to see me for an hour a week and we put boots on and skis and go skiing. Kids truly amaze me as their skiing skills really improve in a short time. It is great to be known as Mr. "SNOWY" Day and as the School that Skis!”
Hat Day at Orchard School
Principal Trifilio (Mr. T!) reported that as part of the Core Project (PBIS program), Orchard School has core charts in each classroom and many offices. When students are acknowledged for good work, such as helping and cooperating, there is an apple card placed in their 100s chart. The principal’s office also has a 100s chart and students have been stopping in to fill up his chart with apples every day. They recently filled it up and Mr. T and his “crew” enjoyed their own celebration - a Hat Day together. Everyone who wore a hat (or hats) this past Wednesday was part of filling the apple chart in Mr. T’s office. A much needed moment of levity especially during these times.
Thank you all for reading and have a safe Friday and weekend,