Weekend Update - December 3rd, 2021

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Staff:

Welcome back after a much needed Thanksgiving break. I hope you all were able to enjoy some relaxing time with your family. Mary Ann and I have seven children (six girls and a boy), so the holidays always represent a good time for getting together. Thanksgiving is especially a nice holiday because we simply gather, eat, and share stories - so much fun. We are reminded that winter is upon us. I don’t want to jinx us, but I would love to get us to December 22nd without a snow day. It is so critical in these complicated times to have consistent instruction and a well-planned routine for our children. That said, if we need to take a day we will. I always try to notify the night before, but sometimes circumstances do not allow for that to happen. We will send out the Robo Call and e.mail as early as we can if we have to wait for the actual storm day. You can also check this link for school closing at any time during the storm. 

Here are just a few of the latest updates:

1. Test To Stay: Great news! The test kits arrived and we have had several opportunities in each of our buildings to make this work. It is very time intensive and I want to thank the school nurses, volunteers, office staff, and administrators. We have been able to keep many students in school. Some parents ask if we can test both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated students. The guidance from the AOE and the VDH clearly states that only unvaccinated students need to be tested. We are going to follow that guidance for two reasons. First, the program is labor intensive and it is important to be as efficient as possible. Second, we have a limited number of test kits and we do not want to go beyond the recommended number as we implement the TTS program. If during the TTS process we should discover a positive Rapid Test, then we would certainly reconsider testing everyone. We want to make this work and we want our children safe. 

To have your child be eligible for the TTS antigen-testing, you must first sign a consent form.  This only has to be done once. It would really help the process if you could get those forms signed so we do not have to do it the day of testing. The schools have sent the forms home.  There is also 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 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 want to sign a paper copy, please contact your student's school.

2. Good News on Vaccinations: We had a successful kick-off at our pediatric vaccine clinics before vacation. Hartland vaccinated over 90 children between the ages of 5 and 11 on Thursday. The Mount Ascutney District vaccinated over 100 children, and Weathersfield vaccinated 50. We want to thank our partners at the Springfield Office of the VT Department of Health. We are also aware that many of our parents have secured the pediatric vaccine privately. If your student did get vaccinated privately, please let your school nurse know ASAP.  

Please be reminded - This is a two-dose process. Reminder that the dates for the second Dose are as follows:

> Hartland from 9:00 AM to Noon on December 9th (2nd Dose); 
> Weathersfield from 9:00 AM to Noon December 13th (2nd Dose);  
> Windsor from 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon on December 17th (2nd Dose).  

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

PLEASE NOTE:  This vaccination is totally voluntary.  If you choose to have your student vaccinated at one of our schools, you must register your child. The information forms for the last vaccine clinic should suffice for the second dose. Just make sure you are registered and it is confirmed on the website.

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) 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 Athletic Directors will have more specific information for each site as we get closer.

4. Mobile App:  I want to keep reminding you that our 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

5. School Board Reminder: The December School Board meetings are listed below.  Agendas for meetings are available on the school websites within 5 days of the scheduled board meeting.  A virtual link to the individual school board meetings are also listed below:

Mount Ascutney School Board will meet on Monday, December 6 at 6:30 p.m.
Virtual Link:  https://meet.google.com/oge-eriq-kcr

Hartland School Board will meet on Tuesday, December 7 at 6:00 p.m.
Virtual Link:  https://meet.google.com/uee-cyxm-xjb

WSESU School Board will meet on Monday, December 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Virtual Link: https://meet.google.com/rpf-vitm-erb

Weathersfield School Board will meet on Tuesday, December 14 at 6:00 p.m.
Virtual Link:  https://meet.google.com/nfo-qttm-bgg

6. Coat Drive:  Our coat drive was very successful. We provided hats, mittens, coats and assorted other items for so many. The picture below is just a sample of what came in. Thanks to everyone who participated and thanks especially to the HergGroup of Vermont for sponsoring this event.

7.   Important Calendar Change:  We are moving the noon dismissal from Friday, December 17th, to Wednesday, 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. COVID Update:  We had the expected post-holiday increase in the number of COVID cases in our schools. Weathersfield has experienced three cases; Hartland had four cases; Windsor School has experienced seven cases; and Albert Bridge remains case-free at the moment. This includes 2 adults in those numbers. As always, we work with the Vermont Department of Health to determine who needs to quarantine and who needs to be tested. Test-To-Stay has helped with the related exposures. It has been a critical tool for keeping students in school. Please be reminded that caution and care is still important within our communities. We can see that the case count is increasing in our communities and across the state. So let’s all be vigilant going forward. I have gone back to wearing my mask in public places. Given the increase in cases and the potential of this new variant, OMICRON, we just need to be careful. No need to panic ever, we just need to take care of each other. If you want to find out about the science behind these variants and the recommended guidance you can look here. There was also this article about the variant in the Vermont Digger today.

That is it for now. These continue to be tough times., but we are a strong community and we will get through this. 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