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Spring Break Letter to Families Amid COVID-19

April 9, 2020


Dear Families,

As we near the end of almost a month of school being closed, I want to acknowledge the tremendous job you are all doing in the face of so many new demands and stressors. Thank you for helping us make the transition to distance learning and for all you are doing to partner with the school in support of your students’ ongoing education.

Spring Break begins next week, from Monday, April 13 to Friday, April 17. The school wrestled with whether to honor the break. The faculty and I were concerned about disrupting your routines and students’ learning, however, we also recognize the importance of pacing ourselves. This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. For those who are in a position to take a breather, enjoy it! It’s okay for your kids to have a break and ease up on academic requirements for the week. If you feel it would be best for your kids to continue working on academics throughout the week, then we encourage you to use the e-learning resources provided by your students’ teachers and the school. These resources are archived on our website for your reference: https://vsnb.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/VSNB-E-LEARNING-RESOURCES-Sheet1.pdf.

I highly recommend that all families read the new memos distributed yesterday by the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE). The AOE states: “Home-based learning is unique and should not try to recreate school…Families are encouraged to continue to have meaningful learning experiences that connect what their children have learned in school to their home lives, interests, and identities.” The AOE has shared helpful guidelines and information about how families can support their students’ continuity of learning.

Vermont AOE guidelines for parents and guardians of Pre-K to 5th Grade Students:

https://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/files/documents/edu-col-guidelines-for-pk-5-families-and-guardians_0.pdf

Vermont AOE guidelines for parents and guardians of students in Grades 6-12:

https://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/files/documents/edu-col-guidelines-for-6-12-families-and-guardians.pdf

As we prepare for Spring Break, please take note of the following important details and reminders: 

Meal Delivery During Spring Break:
Meals will not be delivered by bus next week. However, breakfast and lunch will be AVAILABLE for pick up each day from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. at Mount Anthony Union Middle School located at 747 East Rd, Bennington, VT 05201. After the break, the meal delivery schedule will resume. 

Local Food Pantries:

  • Saint John the Baptist Church: 5 Houghton Street, N. Bennington (Hours: Tuesdays 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and Thursdays 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
  • North Bennington Baptist Church, 15 Church Street, N. Bennington (Call 442-2711 for info)
  • Ed Lucas will be providing lunch and dinner pick-up out of Grace Christian School. For more info, call 603-504-4955.

Resources for Distance Learning and Virtual Learning:
All of the e-learning resources that Village School teachers have shared with families are available on a PDF you can look at and/or download on the school’s website:
https://vsnb.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/VSNB-E-LEARNING-RESOURCES-Sheet1.pdf

Spring Break may be the ideal time to try out the Four Winds Nature Institute’s suggestions for what you and your kids can do outside. Click on the following links for ideas: A Month of Exploring Nearby Nature for Families and Nearby Nature Journal Ideas for Families.

Communications:
Please note that the faculty and staff may be using the vacation to unplug and spend time with their families. Please understand that if you reach out to them, they may not be able to get back to you until after the break. Even though we are taking a hiatus from distance learning, the school is still here for families as a support network. If you have important questions or need assistance, please call the school at 802-442-5955 and leave a phone message and/or email info@vsnb.org or tnewbold@vsnb.org. We will do our best to respond to your needs as quickly as possible.    

United Counseling Service (UCS) – Family Emergency Services:
UCS’s Family Emergency Services (FES) program is open to any family and youth in crisis who reside in Bennington County. These services can include de-escalation, parenting support, suicide or homicide screening, and other mental health and behavioral supports. During COVID-19, FES has expanded hours and staff are available 7 days a week, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. to provide these services. All crisis services can be accessed by calling (802) 442-1700 and giving the on-call provider basic information so that staff can return the call. More information about FES is available at https://vsnb.org/ucs-fes/.

Attendance Policy:
Even though the Village School building is closed through the remainder of the year, the Vermont AOE has asked all schools to keep track of student attendance. Starting after the April break, on Monday, April 20, when school resumes, we ask that all students (and/or a family member on behalf of our youngest students) check-in with their teacher/class at least once each school day. This can be done by commenting on Google Classroom, via e-mail or a text, over the phone, or by turning in a homework assignment online.

School Yearbook:
Thanks to Leslie Koelker, the Village School will have a 2019-2020 yearbook! You should have received an email from Lifetouch about placing an order. If not, you can use this link and type in the VSNB yearbook ID code: 11207820 to place an order. Each yearbook is $13. More details about how the yearbook will be delivered to those who order it will be sent out at a later time. 

>> As a reminder to the families of sixth graders, if you haven’t already sent your student’s baby pictures to Mrs. Koelker, please email them to her at lkoelker@vsnb.org by April 13. 

>> If anyone wants to send in photos of their students “learning at home,” please post them on the school’s Google Album by April 13.

Words of Encouragement for Village School Faculty & Staff:
Student & Employee Relations Coordinator Rachel Maher wanted to do something to help support and encourage the faculty and staff, so she created a feedback form and hopes you will offer some words of encouragement or positive feedback for them. It is her hope that these words of encouragement will help lift their spirits, as the faculty and staff miss teaching and interacting with your children in person. She wants to remind them of how much our community appreciates all that they are doing. The feedback form will be open through April 13. You can access it here: https://forms.gle/8raK7KJkxyJXXoWj8.

Stay Positive and Safe:
No matter your circumstances, this is a trying time for everyone in our community and the world. I encourage you to be good to yourselves and good to one another. Thankfully there are some great days and good moments, but, by and large, the news says it all with the startling facts and figures and stories that remind us of the steep toll this pandemic is taking. 

I hope you will consider a break from the news, and follow the old idiom to “stop and smell the roses” (or, in this case, the crocuses, daffodils, and tulips blooming). We are fortunate to have the beauty of nature around us at a dark time and also rainbows springing up from our resilient community. (If you missed the email from our friends at the John G. McCullough Free Library, they are having a Bennington area rainbow hunt encouraging kids to draw, paint, or in some other way make a rainbow to display in a street-facing window; then, take a walk around the Village and look for all the rainbows.)

Remember to keep up all recommended social distancing measures and safety practices to reduce the chances of spreading infection. Most of all, take hope and comfort in your families and spend as much time together as possible.

Warm regards,

Tim Newbold

Head of School 

The Village School of North Bennington

“Children are at the heart of all we do.”

phone: 802-442-5955 ext. 201

email: tnewbold@vsnb.org

https://vsnb.org/

 

Mission

Children are at the heart of all we do. We nurture a child's curiosity, ignite enthusiasm for exploring, develop tools for inquiry, for invention, for achievement. We welcome families into a community-wide collaboration to help our children grow into their best selves - responsible citizens and stewards of the greater world, makers of the future.