Dear Families,

It’s been a great week here with the welcomed return of warmer days and strong sunshine to melt the ice on school grounds. From the sounds and sights of kids running around outside with a few less layers, they are delighted, too! The second graders have been enjoying Mr. Ulrich’s annual maple sugaring lesson as they go out each day to check their trees and sap buckets, and inside the classroom they are incubating chicken eggs. The optimism of spring abounds. 

On another optimistic note, in his press conference today Governor Phil Scott loosened restrictions for social gatherings in private homes and at restaurants. He announced updates to COVID-19 guidance for small multi-household gatherings and table seating at restaurants. “Effective today, the changes allow two unvaccinated households to gather at a time, and permitting restaurants to seat multiple households together, but no more than six people can be seated at the same table. Masking, distancing, capacity limits, and other mitigation guidelines remain in place,” according to the announcement. 

Today marks the end of the second trimester, and progress reports will be sent home with students next Friday, March 19. There are a number of other important announcements this week, so I will keep this message brief and share the key items below. 

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, March 17 – No School:
As a reminder, there will be no distance learning or in-person instruction on Wednesday, March 17.

Next Week’s Meals Menu (March 15-21):
Click here for the menu. 

Allergies vs. COVID-19 Symptoms:
Now that seasonal allergies are upon us and many allergy symptoms are similar to those for COVID-19, it can make it more difficult to determine which symptoms are potentially worrisome. A flyer with a list of allergy and COVID-19 symptoms is being sent home with students to help you determine when they should stay home. If in doubt, please err on the side of caution. You can also see the list by clicking here

If your student has allergies and you have not yet provided a medical note to School Nurse Kaitlyn Hewson, please email it to her at khewson@vsnb.org or fax it to her at (802) 447-2397. 

The school’s Illness Policy for when to keep your student(s) home from school is on our website, along with the Vermont Department of Health flowchart  that we are using to determine how to assess students’ symptoms in terms of COVID-19 and recommend them for testing and eventual return to school.

COVID-19 Health Screening Questions Changing:
The two health screening questions related to contact with visitors from out of state and traveling out of state are being changed to reflect the latest guidance for those individuals who have received their full vaccination. Here are the updated questions:

    • In the past 14 days has any unvaccinated member of your household left Vermont for any purpose other than “essential travel” (personal safety, health care, medication, care of others, parental shared custody, grocery shopping, school, or work)?
    • In the past 14 days, have you had close contact (less than six feet for 15 minutes or more) with unvaccinated visitors from outside of Vermont for any reason other than what the state considers “essential” purposes (see above)?

Help Needed from All Families to Complete Application by March 18:
We are pleased that we are able to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students through the end of the school year (thanks to the Abbey Group and the USDA). Typically the eligibility for Free and Reduced School Meals is determined by completing the Free and Reduced Meals Application that was sent home with students today. The application is also used to determine eligibility for other programs, such as the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT).  If you have not yet completed the application this year or your situation has changed, please complete and return the application as soon as possible.  The deadline for P-EBT qualification is March 18.

The Vermont Agency of Education asks that EVERY family complete an application.  Full participation assists our school in receiving grant and funding opportunities.  If your income exceeds the cutoff, you can write “N/A” and do not need to state your income.  All information will be kept confidential. If you have any questions, please contact the office at 802-442-5955 or info@vsnb.org

Yearbook Help!

Leslie Koelker is working hard on putting together this year’s yearbook. She would love to include photos of students doing distance learning on Wednesdays. Please email any pictures that you might have to yearbook@vsnb.org.

6th Grade Families: please be sure to send baby pictures of your 6th grader to Mrs. Koelker as soon as possible. Email your photos to yearbook@vsnb.org.

Lake Paran Spring Break Nature Camp (April 12-16):

Registration is open for Lake Paran’s Spring Break Nature Camp from April 12-16, from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Week-long or single-day participation is available. There will be enriching environmental education and place-based experiences in a COVID-19 safe environment, as well as a special live animal presentation by the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum. More info and registration are available online at https://lakeparanvt.org/programs-and-camps/

For questions email lakeparanvista@gmail.com or call 302-463-6907.

COVID-19 Health & Safety:

As Vermont continues its work to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce the spread of the virus, keep Vermonters working, and keep our children in school, the state’s mitigation strategy is constantly evolving. Please refer directly to the Vermont Official State Website for the latest guidance.

Refer to the Department of Health COVID-19 website for prevention information and FAQs. 

COVID-19 Close Contacts & Testing 

If you are a close contact to someone with COVID-19, the Vermont Department of Health states: “You need to stay home and away from other people to prevent further spread of the virus.

Soon you will receive a call from a Health Department Contact Tracer. Please answer the call. The Contact Tracer will give you important information, including the date you may have been exposed and how long you need to stay home. According to the Department of Health, you should follow these steps: 

  1. Please quarantine at home. This means avoiding activities outside of your home—like going to school, work, grocery shopping, or recreation—and separating yourself from others in your home. Learn more about quarantine
  2. Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 and call your health care provider if you start to feel sick. 
  3. Get tested as soon as you can. It’s okay to leave home to get tested, for urgent medical care or if you feel unsafe at home. You must quarantine and follow guidance provided by the Department of Health even if this test is negative.

Testing is available at SVMC and at the Bennington Rescue Squad, which offers quick, easy, and free testing daily. Click on the following link for details about testing: https://svhealthcare.org/COVID-19/testing.

As cases have increased, the recommendations regarding who should be tested have changed. People who meet the following criteria should be tested:

  • Close contacts with a positive case. These include those who share a household or worksite with a positive person, and those who have attended an event with that person. Close contacts should be tested immediately and again after 7 days. 
  • Anyone who plans to participate in a gathering/event.
  • Anyone who has attended a gather/event.
  • Anyone who travelled out of state.
  • Anyone who has a visitor from out-of-state.
  • College students returning to Vermont.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, it is also important to get re-tested 7 days after a single possible exposure, as it takes your body some time to create a measurable load of virus. Those who wait 7 days after a single possible exposure are more likely to get an accurate result. Testing too early can lead to a false negative.

Waiting for Test Results

While you are waiting for test results, follow these instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and any directions you receive from the organization administering the test. The bottom line is that you should self-quarantine until your results are known.



All of these partners are helping to support many of our school programs. You can learn more about these partners at https://vsnb.org/bpie-sponsors


Bank of Bennington:  https://thebankofbennington.com/


D.B. McKenna & Co., Inc.: https://www.dbmckenna.com/

RCS Consulting, Inc.: https://www.rcs.consulting/

Whitman’s / Poulin Grain:  https://www.whitmansfeed.com/


Adam’s Lock & Security: https://www.adamslockvt.com/

Danielle D. Fogarty, PLC: https://www.ddfplc.com/

Global Z: https://globalz.com/

Maple Leaf Realty: https://www.mapleleafvermont.com/

West Oil Company: https://westoilcompany.com/

Williams Financial, LLC: https://williamsfinancial.net/


Bennington Express Car Wash and Repair:  https://www.benningtonlubeandwash.com/

Idena Beach Photography: http://www.idenabeach.com

Pembroke Landscaping:  http://pembrokelandscaping.com/