Weekend Update - December 17th, 2021

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Staff:

It just seems sometimes like we can’t catch a break these days. Not only are we dealing with a Pandemic of historic proportions, but our social media misuse is out of control. I appreciate the patience and understanding as we work through both of these issues. We did have an understandable high absentee rate today. While we have some students in quarantine, we attribute the bulk of the absence to the Tik Tok (social media) situation. I want to applaud the administration, our staff, and the law enforcement agencies for helping us navigate today. Safety will always be our number one priority and it is good to know that we have a team that is vigilant at the right times. We perfectly understand anyone who kept their child home today. Of course, those absences will be excused. There is no need to call if you have not done so already. This will probably be my last email for this year (2021) and we will catch up again after the Holiday season.

In the meantime, here are a few updates:

1. Vaccines: We need help to bring the COVID infection rates down. We have to stay with all of the protocols we originally established both at home and at school. It is also time to think about COVID Booster Shots if you have not already. This includes many of our older high school students who are now eligible. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends all adults and children ages 16 and over get a COVID-19 vaccine booster. This still remains between you and your PCP, but we would ask that you consider your booster and, if unvaccinated, consider getting vaccinated. I know there are still many questions about this virus and I claim to be no expert. We rely on our health professionals to guide us. The local health providers have shared the following information that I thought might be of interest:

>  Getting sick with COVID-19 offers some protection from future illness with COVID-19, sometimes called “natural immunity.” The level of protection people get from having COVID-19 may vary depending on how mild or severe their illness was, the time since their infection, and their age. There is currently no test available that can reliably determine if a person is protected from infection.

>  All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are effective at preventing COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine gives most people a high level of protection against COVID-19 even in people who have already been sick with COVID-19.

>  Emerging evidence shows that getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection to your immune system. One study showed that, for people who have already had COVID-19 and do not get vaccinated after their recovery, they are more than 2 times as likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get fully vaccinated after their recovery.

>  People who were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma or people who have a history of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in adults or children (MIS-A or MIS-C), may need to wait a while after recovering before they can get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

2. Second Dose Vaccinations: We are finishing up the last of our second dose vaccines today. I want to thank the Vermont Department of Health, the staff, the parents and the students for all the support and cooperation. We are now over 50% vaccinated in our K-6 population and we are approaching over 60% in our 7-12 population. I will have better numbers after the Holidays. 

3. High School Winter Athletics: Our COVID Athletic Handbook is now updated with new information for the winter. You can find it at this link. High school sports started on Monday, November 29th. Middle school (7 & 8)  started on December 6th. Elementary (grades K-6) will begin after the Holiday Break (January 5) if they are using our gymnasiums. The seasons seem to be off to a good start. We will be reviewing and revising our spectator protocols right after the Holiday. If our vaccination rates continue to increase and our case count drops, then we want to increase our spectator count at all levels.  This is another reason to follow the COVID protocols and to be especially careful if you are traveling this Holiday season.

4. Travel Restrictions:  I just wanted to repeat that it is going to be important to be vigilant when traveling over the Holidays. If you are traveling outside of Vermont, and you are vaccinated, the VDH recommendation is to get PCR tested 3 to 5 days upon return to Vermont and to pay particular attention to symptoms. If you experience any symptoms, then please isolate and contact your PCP or the school nurse. For the unvaccinated, the recommendation is to stay home for 7 days upon returning to Vermont, even if you test negative in the first 3 to 5 days. If you do not test, the recommendation is to stay home for 10 days and return if symptom free. For more information you can go to this site. If you have any questions, then please reach out to the school nurses. 

5. School Board Reminder: The school board meetings are done for December. A vIrtual link to the January local school board meeting  is listed below. We expect to finalize school budgets in January so that we can have Town Reports printed. Your boards work tirelessly to provide quality with cost containment in mind. It is not always an easy job.

Hartland Elementary School Board will meet on Tuesday, January 4, 2022, at 6:00 p.m.
Virtual Link: https://meet.google.com/uee-cyxm-xjb

MASD School Board will meet on Monday, January 10, 2022, at 6:30 pm
Virtual Link: https://meet.google.com/pxp-rzzy-ift

Weathersfield School Board will meet on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, at 6:00 p.m.
Virtual Link: https://meet.google.com/nfo-qttm-bgg

WSESU School Board will meet on Monday, January 24, 2022, at 6:30 p.m.
Virtual Link: https://meet.google.com/tdb-pfuu-gio

6.  Important Calendar Change:  Again a reminder that we have our noon dismissal on December 22nd, the day before our Holiday break. 

7.  Food Needs: There is never a reason for families to worry about having food on the table, especially during the Holiday season. Our community Food Shelves are very active this time of year and the Upper Valley (our community) supports those food programs generously. I know that many of you help out in your own way. I did want to share a flier that was sent to me this week. You may have seen it, but it has a lot of good information about area food resources. Here is the link.

8.  Data Dashboard:  I just want to remind you one more time that we released our new WSESU Data Dashboard.  This is a place where you can review SU wide data which is gathered from a variety of different sources.  Here is the link. If you have any questions about the dashboard, please do not hesitate to email our Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Team at CIAinfo@wsesu.net.  

That is it for now except to wish each and every one of you the best of Holiday Seasons. This is a great time to reflect on all the good there is in the world. I love our communities and I am honored to serve as your superintendent. Have a great break and stay well!

Dr. David Baker
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union