The Village School is closed for Winter Break from Feb. 21-25th.
I feel a bit like a broken record saying “it’s been a year for the record book,” but so far this is what 2022 has felt like for so many of us. There’s been a lot of new and changing information coming at us, and I will review some important protocol updates toward the end of this email. First, though, I’d like to share something other than COVID-19 news.
Annual Report 2022 and Voter Ballots
The Village School’s Annual Report provides highlights and information from the 2021 school year. It was printed earlier this month, and I would like to give a big thanks to the staff contributors and featured students for their contributions, as well as Board Member Judie Brower for her generosity in lending her time and talent to produce the report. A hardcopy was sent home to each family. The Village of North Bennington report, compiled by Village Clerk Lori Elwell (with a huge thanks for her efforts!) was also sent home to families who reside in North Bennington.
Both annual reports are available on our website at this link: https://vsnb.org/annual-report-2022/. I encourage you to review these reports prior to the School Budget Vote, which will be on Tuesday, March 1.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the North Bennington Graded School District (NBGSD) Prudential Committee and the NBGSD Clerk have opted to mail ballots to district voters. Those ballots are being mailed to all North Bennington Village and Shaftsbury District 1 residents. If you choose to drop off your ballot rather than returning by mail, the North Bennington Train Station Depot will be open for drop offs on March 1st, from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM. One person will be allowed to enter the building at a time. More information about mailing ballots and regional town meetings is on our website at this link: https://vsnb.org/annual-report-2022/.
The NBGSD annual meeting will be held on Saturday, February 26 at 9 a.m. via Zoom. To join the meeting, please use this link:
Meeting ID: 813 1723 7514
The SVSU website has the meeting information listed here.
Back to COVID-19…
Transitioning from Test to Stay to Test at Home:
Last Friday, we informed you that our school would be transitioning from the Test to Stay program to the Test at Home program, and this is still the plan. Currently we have enough antigen tests for Test to Stay, and we used this program yesterday and today when our school learned of two positive cases in school: one in the 5th grade and the other in the 6th grade. Given the circumstances, it made sense for us to continue with Test to Stay, and, after the Winter Break, we will begin to make the transition to Test at Home.
The Vermont Department of Health and Agency of Education’s new COVID-19 protocols are available as a PDF: https://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/files/documents/edu-covid19-jan-2020-protocol-flowchart.pdf.
At-Home Antigen Tests for Post-Winter Break Testing:
A kit containing two antigen tests was sent home with all students this week. As a reminder, we strongly encourage you to test your students twice toward the end of break, at least 24 hours apart. Ideally, you should test your students early on the morning of Sunday, February 27, and again on Monday, February 28, prior to the start of school. A helpful instructional video with directions on how to perform these antigen tests can be found at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBt_H4Gc-rU
Removing Masks Outside Following the Winter Break:
We will be taking our first step toward changing our masking policy after the winter break. We are going to move to optional masks outside for motor breaks and recess. This is a practice many schools were already doing long before this time and which is being recommended by the Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Education. One-way masking will always be available to individuals and families, and I echo Governor Scott’s sentiments in “calling for kindness and understanding for those students and staff who choose to continue wearing masks outside while at school.”
Any additional masking changes, such as removing masks within the school building, will be slower to shift and will be based on factors such as the vaccination rate of students, regional positivity rates, prevalence of school cases, and new science or recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the VT Department of Health, and the VT Agency of Education.
I know folks are worried and have concerns; those feelings are real. I have those same worries every day. On occasion, I find myself holding my breath waiting for test results. I am trying to be as open and transparent as possible about any decisions we make.
I hope your students have a wonderful vacation week, and we look forward to seeing them back in school on February 28th.