VSNB Reopening Plans for Fall 2020
June 3, 2020
As we quickly approach the end of our school year, I want to thank you all for your continued resiliency in the face of our current circumstances. Each and every one of you has risen to the challenges presented by this pandemic, and I applaud the many displays of determination, optimism, and strength of character that I have seen from all of you over the past two months. It has not been easy, but I am proud of how far we have come in so short a period of time. Our greatest strength has always been our community; together we can reach our fullest potential, regardless of whatever circumstances come our way. It is with this thought in mind that I write to you to share current thinking for the upcoming 2020/2021 school year.
Presently, Vermont is fortunate to have succeeded so far in “flattening the curve” and now has the lowest COVID-19 growth rate in the country. In the context of our current understanding of COVID-19, we are planning to reopen the Village School campus this fall for all who are able to safely return. It is likely that we will embrace a blended model of education, meaning that there may be a combination of both in-person and distance learning. What that model will look like will depend entirely upon virus activity in our area, state guidance and mandates, and our own evaluations of the situation at any given time. Our first priority is, and will remain to be, the health of our students and staff. The specific measures that we are considering for reopening in the fall will be based on guidance from local and state health experts, the Vermont Department of Health (DOH), the Vermont Agency of Education(AOE), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). There will be several plans of operation for any given time, based on the risk level of COVID-19 in our region.
The following preliminary procedures have been drafted by our COVID Response Task Force and will be updated and refined as additional evidence, context, and insights about the epidemic become available.
Health & Safety:
- Only students and staff members will be allowed inside the school building.
- We will be following all CDC, DOH, and AOE guidelines, including those regarding both mask and social distancing protocols. We will work closely with Kaitlyn Hewson, our school nurse, and other health professionals to maintain compliance with these guidelines as they evolve and communicate any changes to families and staff.
- Anyone (both students and staff members) who is sick or shows any sort of symptoms of illness including a fever (100.4oF or over) will be required to stay home for 72 hours until fever-free and symptoms have resolved.
- Frequent handwashing will be required for all staff and students; if handwashing is unavailable, hand sanitizer will be used (upon entering the building/classroom, before and after lunch and snacks, before and after outside time).
Teaching & Learning:
- We are planning to resume in-person instruction in the fall, and that means coming up with instructional plans that are designed to meet student needs but that are also flexible and can adapt to remote learning quickly. We will be prepared for a range of possibilities and instructional modalities.
- The social emotional wellbeing of the students will be one of our central concerns, and we will have teams in place to support classes, individual students, and families.
- We will be prepared for a blended learning model that may mean a combination of in-person and remote learning happening simultaneously. Instruction may shift for individual students, for classes, or even for the whole schools should the virus become active in our area.
- We are committed to meeting or exceeding the best practices set forth by the CDC, DOH, and the AOE with regard to protecting our students from the Coronavirus.
- We are carefully considering every aspect of the school day and implementing ways to make it possible for the students to maintain social distancing. This may mean a staggered start to the day for different classes, eating lunch in the classroom, recess by class, a suspension of Reading Partners and other cross-class activities, carefully planned travel in the halls, etc.
- We will limit the number of contact points that the students are exposed to by restricting access to the building. This will be further limited by creating traffic patterns within the school to reduce random contact. Families will be asked to drop off and pick up outside where staff members will be present to assist with the transfer.
- Click here to download the 2020-2021 school calendar. In order to keep everyone safe and healthy, we may need to make adjustments to the calendar and, if that is the case, we will communicate the changes accordingly.
- Our custodial team has been trained on COVID-19, as mandated by the Vermont Department of Labor and in conjunction with CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.
- We will continue to clean and disinfect the school in accordance with OSHA, CDC, and DOH regulations and guidelines, using Environmental Protection Agency approved chemicals.
- Kitchen staff will be responsible for the cleaning and sanitizing of all kitchen surfaces and work spaces, in accordance to OSHA and CDC guidelines.
We understand that many of these changes may present their own challenges to both families and staff. Please know that I am available to you and your family to address any specific questions or concerns. The times that lie ahead of us are filled with many uncertainties that will require us to become more adaptable than we ever would have imagined, but I have learned that there are a great many things that we are all capable of in this community. We are a learning community, and this has been a learning opportunity like no other. This summer, we will reflect on what has worked (and what needs to be improved) during these last few weeks and months, and we will take a proactive approach rather than a reactive one. Knowing that we are in this together and that we are committed to keeping everyone healthy and providing the best learning opportunities we can for our students will make all the difference as we head into the next school year.
Timothy J. Newbold
Head of School
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.