Dear Parents and Caregivers:
I hope you are enjoying the Labor Day Weekend. We look forward to seeing all of our students on Tuesday morning. The administration, faculty and staff have done a great job getting ready. I want to give a big SHOUT OUT to our maintenance and custodial crew for all the work they do over the summer months. The buildings look amazing and, even more important, all the systems have been tweaked to ensure good airflow and a safe and healthy environment for everyone. I have a few updates that I want to share before we begin:
Surveillance Testing: We will be participating in the weekly surveillance testing program sponsored by the AOE and supported in partnership with CIC who are well-known in the Health Tech field. You can find out more about the Testing Program by clicking here. The testing is available to staff and students. No student testing can be done without parental consent. You can find the consent form here. The onboarding process for our schools is quite extensive, so we will not begin the testing for a couple of weeks. We will certainly let you know when it begins. I want to thank Laurie Brown in the central office and all of our school nurses for putting the time into getting all this set up.
Mandatory Staff Vaccines: Our supervisory union is mandating vaccines for all employees. We are keenly aware that we have over 50% of our young children who are not eligible for the vaccine, so this is one added layer of protection against transmission. There are no guarantees, but our school boards want to ensure maximum safety as we move ahead. As I have stated before, we have two main goals: first, to keep everyone safe and healthy; second is to conduct in-person learning all year long for all of our students. Thus, our boards are going above and beyond the minimum requirements and should be commended for that. Most of our staff are vaccinated. But those who are not vaccinated have to show proof of the first vaccine by September 17th and, in the case of a two-vaccine immunization, they must have the second vaccine by October 29th.
Student Vaccines: While there is currently no mandate for student vaccines, we are keeping data on the percentage of our students that are vaccinated. Please make sure you get your child’s proof of vaccination to the respective school nurse by the end of next week (September 10th). We sent out our nurses’ email addresses and FAX numbers last week. You may also drop off proof at the school if you drop off your child this week. Everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask, about COVID-19 in Vermont can be found here. This includes the updated vaccine and testing sites and great information about the virus and transmission.
Transportation: The bus routes are complete. This is no easy task. I want to thank BJ Esty, Linda Johnston, April Sykes, Kate Ryan, and transportation coordinator, Mike Gaudette, for all the hard work. Unlike some districts, we have a full complement of excellent bus drivers, but we can always use a spare. If you have any interest at all, please contact Mike Gaudette at email@example.com. There will be a strict seating chart for all buses to help with contact tracing if, and when, needed. We are also providing support staff on most buses as we begin to help with the seating chart and general support. In Vermont, riding is a privilege and is not guaranteed under the law. If your child is taking the bus, please make sure to have a conversation about cooperating with the drivers and support staff. Bus driving is extremely serious business and our drivers take safety to heart. Remember, masks are required 100% of the time while riding our buses. One final note - please know that the first few days there may be some glitches along the routes, which could make a bus early or late. We will smooth those glitches out over time.
Website for Information: I want to thank our IT Department for keeping our website up-to-date. You can find lots of information about our schools and our SU. I just want to point out a couple of pieces of information. Our 2021-2022 COVID Plan can be found here. If you have any questions about our curriculum or any of the resources that we use, Angie Ladeau does an excellent job keeping her Curriculum page updated. You can find that here. You can find our Portrait of a Graduate/Strategic Plan; our Recovery Plan; and our ESSER Spending Plan. We still have over 2 million dollars to spend from the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (Round 3). We did solicit community feedback over the summer on the spending plan. We then developed a Q & A about the plan and gave some additional information at this link. Our Recovery Plan (ESSER-supported) is tied directly to our Strategic Plan. One of our first steps this year was the establishment of a Summer Academy. We served over 100 children from all four of our towns who were identified as needing some support and recovery. We could not have done this without the ESSER funding.
Leader In Me: We did two days of training on this program with all staff during in-service. You will be hearing more about it from your building principals. It is a research-validated process that is expressly designed to build leadership and engagement in our students and staff. It is based on the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Leader In Me (LIM) tailors the 7 habits of young people and, over time, teaches them the skill and values of each habit. Student engagement, empowerment, voice and choice is repeated over and over again in our strategic plan. We believe that there is a leader in all of us. We also believe that independence and interdependence are critical attributes for all students preparing for life in the 21st century. You can get an overview of the process at this link. If you want to have a little more fun, you can view a song that one of the early adopters of the LIM program created with their students at this link. Stay tuned for more information.
I think that is it for now. We will see you on Tuesday. Please make sure that, if dropping off, you stay within the drop-off window. We may have gotten rusty over the summer, so let’s be patient with each other. We are all in this together. We did this before and we can do it again. We have great kids, great staff, and great communities - that is a recipe for success!
See you soon. Stay safe!
Dr. David Baker
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union