Weekend Update - 10/1/21

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Staff:

This week we had to quarantine one additional class at Weathersfield.  This was at the same time that the Weathersfield 5th and 6th graders were returning to school from being quarantined the week before. It has been a tough week and a half for the Weathersfield School community.  I want to thank school secretaries, BJ Esty and Carrie Jewell, as well as Emily Stevens, the school nurse, Principal Martes and the entire staff for the work that goes into contact tracing and remote teaching.  They did incredible work.  A special note of thanks has to be given to Kirsten McNamara, Jennifer Durham, Candy Fuller and Brooke Breit, all teachers who taught remotely and in-person simultaneously. The special education teachers also had to teach under both methods simultaneously. By contract, these staff members do not have to enter into this hybrid methodology, but they are committed to making sure that their students stay up to speed as much as possible. 

I was also informed that yesterday, September 30th, a member of the high school community in Windsor tested positive for COVID-19.  In conjunction with the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) and school nurse Elizabeth Martens, all students and adults that needed to quarantine further were contacted.  If you did not receive notification you may assume that there is no need for further quarantining or testing.  Again, thank you to all the staff who completed the contact tracing.

We are working with the VT-AOE and the VDH to find an alternative to quarantining. This alternative would involve some level of rapid testing over a seven-day period while the student and/or staff member that was exposed stays in school. Parental permission for rapid testing would be required for students. This method of testing is referred to as “Test and Stay,” and would get us closer to our goal of keeping our children and staff in school.  You can read a little more about the Massachusetts model here.   Because this alternative testing is still a few weeks out, for now, the only method approved for mitigation is contact tracing and quarantining.

1. Test To Stay: The Agency of Education (AOE) is still working on a program referred to as TTS (Test-To-Stay). You can see from the paragraph above that a program that could be safe and simultaneously keep our kids in school would be welcomed. The planning is in the early stages and I will keep you posted. 

2. Surveillance Testing: This is on hold for now. The company that the AOE contracted with is very overwhelmed. We are hoping that this testing can be operational within the next couple of weeks. As I stated before, both staff and students can consent to this Testing Program by clicking here. You must be registered to test. Parental permission is required for students.

3. COVID Testing: We all know that it is getting more and more difficult to schedule a COVID test and get the results back in a timely fashion. To that end, our own Mt. Ascutney Hospital opened up as a test site yesterday, September 30th, between the hours of 12:00 noon and 4:00 PM. You simply go to the Health Vermont site here.  Once there, select the “COVID 19” tab on the left.  Click “Testing Sites” and you will see Windsor listed in alphabetical order as a Vermont town with a test site (MAHCC). Click “Make an Appointment” and follow the prompts.  We appreciate the hospital bringing this testing closer to all of us. What a great resource to have in our Supervisory Union.

4. Music Educators deserve a special shout out for the way they have had to accommodate their music instruction during this Pandemic. Instrument playing and singing present a unique risk during this time of COVID transmission. Last year, we had to shut down our vocal and instrumental music classrooms. This year we have ordered some additional equipment to make our ensembles work. Our kids need to sing and they need to play their instruments. I want to thank Jaimie Bernstein, Zach Shambo, Rebecca Wood, Rebecca Towne, and Dave Keeney for their patience and for their passion and commitment to making sure the music “never dies” (to quote a line in a song). I saw this posting on-line the other day and it summarizes my thoughts:

5. Backpack Drive: We continue to collect materials for our children across the SU as part of a backpack program sponsored by the HergGroup of Vermont. You can bring any supplies either to your school or to the WSESU Central Office on Main Street in Windsor (right above the Mascoma Bank). The original deadline was October 1st, but we are extending that deadline to October 8th. Thanks to all of those who have donated so far. Here is the original flyer:

6. School Board Meetings: We always welcome the public to join our school board meetings. I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but we have great school boards. They have no agenda other than to ensure that our children get what they deserve in our schools. It is essentially volunteer work. If you see one of them, please thank them. Here are the dates of the upcoming meetings:

Mount Ascutney ~ October 4th 6:30 PM ~ Google Meet (virtual) Link: https://meet.google.com/oge-eriq-kcr
Hartland ~ October 5th 6:00 PM ~ Google Meet (virtual) Link: https://meet.google.com/uwx-fuya-vjx
Weathersfield~October 12th 6:00 PM ~ Google Meet (virtual) Link: https://meet.google.com/nfo-qttm-bgg
WSESU Meeting ~ October 25th 6:30 PM ~ Google Meet (virtual) Link: https://meet.google.com/nbd-gstm-tsk

7. Fall Soup for Clothing Swap: The Windsor School Health Office and the Windsor High School Student Council are putting on a "Soup for Clothing Swap."  The event will be held on October 23rd from 9-2 with a weather date of 10-24 at Windsor High School. They will have free clothing for all ages along with winter sporting goods.  This event will also kick off the Student Council’s  annual food drive.  The donation of canned goods would be greatly appreciated but not required to attend! They would love for this community event to be advertised as widely as possible - so tell your neighbors, your friends and anyone you know that might be able to donate clothing or food!  Please email Elizabeth Martens (elizabeth.martens@wsesu.net)  or Charlene Dana (charlene.dana@wsesu.net)  with any questions or donation inquiries. 

I think that is it for now. Enjoy the weekend. It is supposed to be great fall weather. 

Stay well and stay safe!

Dr. David Baker
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union