Weekend Update - November 5th, 2021

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Staff:

We continue to avoid significant quarantining in our schools. We did have a case at Windsor School on Wednesday, November 3rd, that resulted in a class having to quarantine for a short period of time. The good news in all of our schools is that the transmission is not happening at school. This calls for a shout out to nurses, staff and families who are following the protocols!   It was another tough Thursday for the state of Vermont as we claimed the highest case count in our recent past. Here are the latest numbers from yesterday, November 4th, 2021:

487 new cases reported, with 55 hospitalized (19 in the ICU)
> 3.2% seven-day test positivity rate
> Most recent death reported on November 3rd totaling 380 deaths statewide
> 90.5% of eligible Vermonters are partially or fully vaccinated  

1. Surveillance Testing: This remains on hold for now. We just can’t ramp up for TTS, pediatric vaccines and Surveillance Testing at the same time.

2. Test To Stay: Planning is well underway. Remember, this program is voluntary and is only for unvaccinated students whose parents/guardians consent for their child/children to be tested to stay in case of a close contact situation. Please keep in mind that any unvaccinated children that do not participate (and are deemed close contacts to a person who tests positive with COVID) will have to quarantine and there will be no remote instruction. Of course, school work will be provided for those students in quarantine. Using Test-to-Stay is an effort to keep our children in school. We hope to have everything up and running by November 15th. This includes a website where parents and guardians can give consent for in-school (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 test if necessary.  We are still waiting for the test kits, but hope to be up and running by the end of next week.  

3. COVID Testing: I want to remind anyone that needs a COVID (PCR) test that Mt. Ascutney Hospital is open for testing between 12 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. Vaccinations: We got the good news that pediatric vaccines received Emergency Use Authorization from the CDC on Wednesday. A vaccinated adult or student is not subject to quarantine.  The CDC and the VDH have also drawn a strong correlation between high vaccination rates and transition rates without masks. As I said in my previous email on Wednesday, if we can get to an 80% building-wide vaccination rate, we can reconsider any form of mask wearing or quarantining. So, to that end, we are partnering with the Springfield Office of the VT Department of Health to offer pediatric vaccines in our schools once our children are eligible. We have confirmed dates for Windsor, Weathersfield and Hartland. 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 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).  Albert Bridge parents should register for the Windsor Pediatric Vaccine Clinic. We will work on transportation for those children on those mornings. There is also a general public vaccine clinic at  Windsor from 12:30 PM to 4:00 PM on both November 19th and December 17th.. This is open to all who want their COVID Booster, but I am also told that you may register your child and bring them with you on those afternoons.  You can register for these sites here. Enter your child as a dependent and register for your site. 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.

5. High School Winter Athletics: We now move indoors for Winter Athletics. This is going to create some additional challenges for keeping everyone safe. We are updating our COVID Athletic Handbook to reflect some changes from last year. High School sports start on November 29th. We anticipate 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. 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. We will follow the Home Team protocols when we travel. Home game protocols in our gym include masking at all times; arrive-play-leave; no visitor fans; and there will be a limited number of home team fans allowed. Those fans will have to be masked and distanced by family. We should be able to make a firm decision on the number of fans per player in the next week.

6. Middle School Athletics: We are excited to open our local gymnasiums in Hartland and Weathersfield for middle level sports. Practice will begin on December 6th. Students have to be masked at all times and the public is NOT allowed in the building during practices or eventual games. Practice sessions will be no more than three times a week. All coaches (volunteer or compensated) will need to be vaccinated. The AD’s will publish the practice schedules. Games will not begin until January.

7. Elementary Athletics: Barring any dramatic changes in transmission rates at the elementary level, we will open our gymnasiums for K-6 sports program in January. Stay tuned for more details.

8. Calvin Coolidge Scholarship:  I wanted to reference one more time a very prestigious scholarship that is generated out of Plymouth, Vermont, but is open to all students across the nation. It is open to all Juniors who are enrolling in a college in 2023 and are US Citizens or permanent residents. It is a full ride, four year merit scholarship. You can find more information about the criteria here. And you can find the application here

9.  ESSER Funding: We are making one last attempt to solicit public input on the expenditure of the last installment of our Federal ESSER monies. There is a series of public forums. Hartland already had their forum last week. But any community member can go to any of the remaining forums.  During these forums, there  will be a short overview of ESSER and the need for recovery followed by some discussion and feedback. The following two forums are available: Windsor on November 8th at 6:30 pm (In-Person @ at the municipal Building and virtually at this link: meet.google.com/yti-fzfp-qpq and in Weathersfield on November 9th at 6:00 PM virtual only at this link: meet.google.com/hut-ksxo-ayv.

10. Social-Emotional Learning:  The Agency of Education is pleased to announce the release of SEL VT, a free virtual platform with resources for understanding healthy social emotional learning (SEL) and building SEL skills. As you know, SEL is a core part of Vermont’s Education Recovery, and the materials on SEL VT are intended for teachers and administrators to use in instruction and education recovery efforts. The resources on SEL VT will help students build SEL skills and give educators useful content to incorporate into their teaching. Teachers can provide a link to their students so they can directly access materials for lessons. The platform also has corresponding materials that parents can directly access to understand lessons covered in school and support continued learning at home

11. School Board Reminder: Below are the dates for the remaining November school board meetings.  Agendas for meetings are available on the school websites, within 5 days of the scheduled board meeting.  VIrtual links to the remaining local school board meetings are listed below.

Weathersfield School Board - Tuesday, November 9, 2021 @ 6:00 p.m.
Virtual “Google Meet” link:  https://meet.google.com/nfo-qttm-bgg
Weathersfield School Board Website:  https://ws.wsesu.net/information/school-board

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

12. Coat Drive!  HergGroup Vermont is partnering with the WSESU community to help collect cold weather wear for local families in need from November 1 through 30.  For more information regarding location drop-off and what is needed, please click here.

I think that is it for now.  Enjoy the weekend.  It looks like it might be a chilly one - but at least the sun should be shining!

Stay well and stay safe.

Dr. David Baker
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union