Dear Parents and Caregivers:
I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out with some updated information as we navigate the end of the school year. There is a lot of information, so please bear with me.
First and foremost, I know that parents want to know about the end of school. Our plan is to have the last day of school for seniors be May 29th and we will use the following week to address any senior that still needs to meet a standard or finish work that is required for graduation. Windsor has traditionally had final exams for grades 7-12. There will be no Final Exams this year for any students. This has been a tough year for our seniors. This is such an important milestone, but the Governor’s restrictions continue to limit the way we can celebrate the end of the year. The in- person rules prevent proms, class nights, graduation exercises in a traditional sense. I know that Principal Riley and her staff are planning some creative celebrations to acknowledge this milestone. More to come from her.
The last day of school (175th day) was going to be June 18th. We need some time with staff at the end of the year to prepare for next year. There is a good chance that some, if not all, of the instruction will be remote. If that is the case we need to develop a remote instructional system that will engage students with increased accountability and rigor. Our staff did a great job making this transition, but we know that we could do even better. There are four areas that need attention for next year; the schedule, the curriculum; the remote platform; and the accountability system. Last week I applied to the AOE for a waiver for our three snow days and the one Power Outage day at Weathersfield. I had heard that some districts had been approved for these waivers. On Friday I learned that the Secretary of Education approved the waiver recognizing the need for staff development at the end of the year. So now our students in Mount Ascutney and Hartland need to complete 172 days and Weathersfield students need to complete 171 days.
So now the last day for students in grades PK-11 will be June 15th. We will have the last full day for new instruction and assignments on June 9th. We will use June 10th, 11th, 12th and 15th for Fix and Finish, Enrichment, Virtual Field Trips, class days, and other end-of-year activities. Teachers will be available in the morning so that we can begin meeting in the afternoons. Students who receive Special Education services will receive their full day of services on June 9th. Case managers will be in touch with parents during those following days to discuss progress to date.
We are also trying to provide some special recognition for our 6th graders (Albert Bridge) and our 8th graders (Weathersfield, Hartland, and Windsor). The same social restrictions apply for those students and families as well. There are serious in-person restrictions for end-of-year celebrations. The administrators are working hard to provide recognition. Further information will be available soon. Stay tuned.
The state has not given clear guidelines on summer programming. It looks like any summer programs, including Extended School Year (ESY) services for special education students, will need to follow strict Health Department and VOSHA regulations. The same in-person limits apply. We have decided that there will not be any in-person summer programming except for a very few special education students that may require in-person service.
Needless to say, we are all thinking about next year. The Governor and the Secretary are leaving the option for in-person education open. If there are no vaccines and similar Health Department restrictions apply (6ft distancing, masks, hand washing, and general sterilization protocols), I have serious doubts about our ability to open safely. I have almost 40 years of experience in public schooling and the thoughts of keeping students aged 3 through 18 six feet apart and masked throughout the day is simply unnerving. I just don’t see any way to do it. I hope someone much smarter than me can give me some practical advice if we are required to open for in-person work. I understand the role that schools play in the childcare world, but the school day has to be realistic and safe. We are told that we will have a final decision about next year by the end of June. If we have to stay in this remote environment we will be making some significant changes to our online protocols and platforms; thus the need for Professional Development to prepare for this possibility. As soon as a decision is made we will let you know.
As information develops, we will keep you posted. I advise paying attention to the Governor’s press conferences found at this link.
Our Food Program continues to be a success. We are delivering between 700 and 800 meals a day. Hats off to our volunteers, food service employees, or bus drivers and our Director Craig Locarno. This is nothing less than heroic work. We are checking with the state to see if they will allow us to continue in this present format after school is over. We have always had a small summer program, but if we can continue to serve as many as we have been serving that would be good for our communities.
We do have permission from the state to continue Food Service throughout the summer, but we may have to make a few adjustments based on the number of volunteers, increased packaging costs, and access to bus drivers. But we will try to create a delivery system that reaches as many families as possible. Our intent would be no break in service and end sometime in early August. We will keep you posted. I would ask that you take a couple of minutes to fill out the following survey related to Food Service. The results will be used to finalize our end-of-year planning. Here is the link:
Have a great end-of-year and good summer - hopefully a little closer to other family and friends. We thank you again for all your support during these unprecedented times. Our families and communities are the best!
Dr. David Baker
Superintendent of Schools
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union