Weekend Update - November 19th, 2021

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Staff:

As we enter Thanksgiving week we are reminded of the many ways we are blessed to live in such beautiful, small, rural communities. Just a simple drive at any time reminds us of the beauty that surrounds us. I visited every school this week and I am always reminded of how fortunate I am to work with such great children, families and staff. Just because we are probably all tired of hearing the news about COVID outbreaks and transmission, I want to dispense with the state COVID overview. If we pay attention to the news or read any newspaper, you know we continue to struggle to stay ahead of this. But knowing our communities and staff, I am confident that we will. Let’s go into this Holiday season with optimism and appreciation. 

Here are the latest updates:

1. Test To Stay: Great news! The test kits arrived and we had our first opportunity yesterday to use the protocol.  Weathersfield had a positive case earlier this week and we were able to prevent further quarantining once the kits arrived.  Hats off to that school and to all of our nurses for the willingness to make this work. Remember, Test-to-Stay is an effort to keep our children in school.  

PLEASE NOTE:  To have your unvaccinated child be eligible for the TTS antigen-testing, you must first sign a consent.  There is a website where parents and guardians can give consent for in-school (TTS) testing.  Please note that this is SEPARATE from the surveillance testing consent you may have provided previously and will be used only for TTS testing.   Please use this new site (by clicking here)  if you’d like to register your consent to have your unvaccinated student receive the rapid-result antigen (TTS) test if necessary.  If you would prefer to sign a paper copy, please contact the school your child attends.

2. More Good News on Vaccinations: We had a successful kick-off at our pediatric vaccine clinics this week. Hartland vaccinated over 90 children between the ages of 5 and 11 on Thursday. The Mount Ascutney District is about to vaccinate over 100 children of the same age this morning. On Monday, it will be Weathersfield’s turn. So, to that end, we continue to partner with the Springfield Office of the VT Department of Health to offer pediatric vaccines in our schools. Remember, this is a two-dose process. Reminder that the dates are as follows: 

> Hartland from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on November 18th (1st Dose), December 17th (2nd Dose); 
> Windsor from 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon on November 19th (1st Dose) and December 17th (2nd Dose); and 
> Weathersfield from 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon on November 22 (1st Dose) and December 13 (2nd Dose).  

You can register for these sites here. Enter your child as a dependent and register for your site. 

PLEASE NOTE:  This is totally voluntary and you must register your child and give consent for the vaccines to be given at school. Parents may not accompany their child unless they sign up for a public site.

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 start on Monday, November 29th. Middle school (7 & 8) starts on Monday, December 6th. Elementary (grades K-6) will begin after the Holiday Break (January 5)  if they are using our gymnasiums. Windsor has its own town gymnasium and may start their elementary program earlier.  We have the same expectations for practices that we had last year - Arrive, Practice, and Leave. Students will have to be masked when in the building and there will be no public allowed in practice sessions or scrimmages. All athletic personnel have to be vaccinated.  Players are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated but it is not a requirement. We will play a full schedule for all sports at the middle and high school levels. High school games will start in December. Middle school will start in January. We will follow the Home Team protocols when we travel. Home game protocols in our gym include masking at all times and arrive-play-leave. With respect to high school spectators, only home team spectators will be allowed. The number of home team fans will be limited. We will be allowing a high school student section that will be organized by our high school administrators. We will determine the middle school protocols for fans after the Holiday break. Coaches, administrators, and the AD’s will have more specific information for each site as we get closer.

4.  High School Victory: Our High School Football Team won the state championship last weekend!  It was a great athletic season this fall. Way to go Yellowjackets!

5.  Mobile App:  As stated last week, our incredible IT Team created an instructional video for our PowerSchool mobile app (IOS and Android). You can have the convenience of all our school information on your mobile phone. To watch the instructional video click here

6.  Test Scores: Because of the importance, I wanted to include this information again. You may have read that state-wide assessment scores went down significantly during this pandemic. This is not surprising. I was seriously concerned when they decided to go ahead with the statewide Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) last year. There is so much confusion with the testing protocols during the pandemic that the results have not been publicly released. Our supervisory union uses several regular SU-wide assessments to accompany our SBAC scores. We implemented a new one this year called Exact Path. You can find out more information here. This will accompany and/or replace our Track-My-Progress assessment. In our first round of Exact Path, we found the information was correlated much better than with our previous SBAC scores. This is helpful. SBAC and Exact Path provide a rigorous standard. That has always been the case in Vermont. Our state scores seem low, but they are benchmarked on a high standard - and that is what we want. In the coming weeks we will be piloting a Data Dashboard. This will be accessible by our public and will report our many forms of social, emotional, and academic data. It will be reported SU-wide. We do want to put our new Strategic Plan to work by establishing baseline data and following up on a regular basis. Student wellness and performance is number one.  Our plan has established some significant social, emotional and academic goals and we have to have a way to track that progress. As soon as the dashboard is available, I will share the link. 

7. School Board Reminder: The only remaining November school board meeting is the SU meeting on November 22.  Agendas for meetings are available on the school websites within 5 days of the scheduled board meeting.  A vIrtual link to the remaining local school board meeting (for November) is listed below.

WSESU School Board - Monday, November 22, 2021 @ 6:30 p.m.
Virtual “Google Meet” link:  https://meet.google.com/rpf-vitm-erb
WSESU School Board Website:  https://www.wsesu.net/supervisory-union/su-board

8. Name That Plow: Congratulations to Weathersfield for naming a state plow for the winter season. “BIG BESSIE” will be out on our snowy roads this season. Our new principal had a new experience since he was allowed to sit in that plow. Remember, Mr. Martes has never seen snow. Hang on tight! Here is a great picture.

You can also follow this link to a WCAX story. Great job Weathersfield kids!

9.   Important Calendar Change:  We are moving the noon dismissal from December 17th to December 22nd, the day before our Holiday break. This just seemed to make more sense for families and staff. To view a copy of the calendar for the 2021/22 school year, please click here.

10. Coat Drive:  One more reminder that the HergGroup of Vermont is partnering with the WSESU community to help collect cold weather wear for local families in need from November 1 through 30.  We are especially in need of weather wear for younger children under the age of 8 years old. For more information regarding location drop-off and what is needed, please click here.

I think that is it for now.  I will probably give everyone a break next week and skip the Email blast update unless something of real importance comes up. That being said, I want to wish you and all your families a very Happy Thanksgiving. A big thank you to all of you for your help during this difficult time!

Stay well and stay safe.

Dr. David Baker
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union