Dear Parents and Guardians,
I am pleased to welcome you to the 2021-2022 school year! This year, we return to school, in person, five days a week - our normal schedule. It feels odd to say that sentence - of course we would be in person! But as you know, COVID threw a major wrench into last year and is still impacting us as we prepare to open this year. The first student day for K-12 is September 1 (preK starts the following week) and with this letter, I hope to provide you with an overview of what to expect at this year’s opening.
WHAT TO EXPECT FOR RETURNING TO SCHOOL
In Person Learning: We will provide full day, 5- day a week, in person learning at each school. Social distancing will not be required at this time. Other protocols such as masks, outdoor breaks, and frequent handwashing and sanitizing will continue. School will go back to their pre-COVID hours of operation.
Universal Masks: We WILL require universal masking indoors for all students and adults as we start the school year. Masks are federally required on school bus transportation. It is anticipated that masking will not continue all year; however, the agency of education, CDC, and American Academy of Pediatricians VT all state clearly that masks are the minimum we can do to protect our unvaccinated children and our own duty of care obligation finds that masking is necessary. We will monitor the impact of the Delta variant and any future variants, our vaccination rates, and community outbreak and transmission rates and will step back from masking as soon as it is feasible. Masking is only required on the buses and when indoors at this time.
Computers: All students at RNESU are provided a Chromebook for school use. To have a device issued to your student RNESU requires your consent using this link https://tinyurl.com/b4hh8pa4: A Chromebook cannot be issued without your consent. Hotspots are available to families eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch or who live in a geographic area without much internet coverage. To request a hotspot, which can only be used with a district Chromebook, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meals: The federal government has continued free meals for all students this year. No forms are required; however, filling out a FRL form is recommended for other reasons, such as the hotspot request above, free college application and SAT tests, and other benefits. Please see the registration link or website for FRL forms.
Transportation: Regular routes of school bus transportation will resume without distancing on the buses. Masks are required on school buses and ventilation will continue. Seating may be assigned for contact tracing purposes. Bus changes will not be allowed at this time.
Stay Home When Sick: We do not anticipate taking temperatures or filling out screening questions upon arrival at school. We will continue to ask that any child or staff who is sick or has symptoms stay home and we will send home any child who arrives with symptoms or develops them at school. We will be coordinating with the VT Department of Health to offer optional monthly testing for any staff or student (with parent permission) who is interested.
Remote Learning Option: We have heard from parents who have solid reasons for not being able to return their child to school while the Delta variant and COVID still rage through our communities. We also understand there are varying opinions in our community regarding the wearing of masks. Thus, we have developed a flexible pathway to learning remotely. It is a stand alone program called EdOptions Academy and is available for students in grades K-12. This is not a temporary option; if a student participates in the EdOption Academy, they will remain in that option for the full semester.
To learn more about the virtual learning option, we are offering two virtual "Family Town Halls". It is required that you attend or watch a recording of a virtual information session and sign a virtual learning compact to ensure you are willing to take on the demands of this program. Family Town Hall Information nights are as follows (they will be recorded and made available as well)
K-5 (Aug. 19 at 5pm): https://edmentum.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_cEEhtzueRYS1i0-mb7CEIw
6-12 (Aug. 18 at 5pm): https://edmentum.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_naum9MzYSmOBN4NA2zOOQg
On August 23rd at 5pm, we will host a RNESU Question and Answer Information night for families.https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84800495063?pwd=ekVFU2d1QWZLWkVUZHlrd0JNSjg1UT09
21-22 SCHOOL YEAR CALENDAR: EARLY RELEASE DAYS
One of the many things we retain from our COVID school year is the ability to be more efficient and effective with staff professional development. As we are delving into student data, we need to bring PreK- 6th grade level & 7-12 content level teachers together on a regular basis to look at data, learn methods and techniques and share resources. Therefore we will hold one Early Release Day every month during the 21-22 school year.
The early release days will be a half day of school in the morning, and students will be sent home at lunch times. Exact times may vary by school and will be announced in August, but roughly around 11:30 am. Students will be given lunch at school or lunch will be sent home. We chose one Friday each month, as that seemed to be the best for parent work schedules and family schedules.
Early release dates: Sept 17, Oct 15, Nov 19, Dec 17, Jan 21, Feb 11, March 11, April 8, May 20. Please put these dates in your calendar now as you plan out the school year.
NEW DISTRICT AND SCHOOL WEBSITES AND APP
We have updated our websites across the district! This new site will also include updated robocall and email systems.
The site also comes with a new mobile app, so people can easily access school information on their mobile devices. We will be sending out information on this in the next couple of weeks and look forward to comments and suggestions on making the information as accessible as possible. Please help us share this word.
VACCINE RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES
Vaccinations are now open for ages 12+ in Vermont. We provide this information for your consideration but we do not require proof of vaccination. Along with your pediatrician, here are some key resources for parents:
What You Need to Know about COVID-19 Vaccines and Kids from the Vermont Department of Health, the Vermont Child Health Improvement Project and the Vermont Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Local Pediatrician Online Conversations on the COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids organized by the Vermont Department of Health.
Pfizer BioNTech Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers (EUA) - FDA's Emergency Use Authorization for use in individuals 12 years of age and older.
Locally, Rutland High School will be providing free vaccines to all eligible who wish one on the following dates:
August 19 Rutland High School 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM
September 9 Rutland High School 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM
September 30 Rutland High School 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM
You can access a vaccine at a walk-in clinic (without an appointment) or you can make an appointment. Registration link: https://vermont.force.com/events/s/selfregistration
Otter Valley Unified Union Board meets twice monthly, on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month August to June at 6:00 pm.
Barstow Unified Union Board meets on the 3rd Monday of each month August to June at 6:00 pm.
RNESU board meets on the 3rd Wednesday of each month August to June at 5:00 pm
Board meeting locations and agendas can be accessed on the rnesu.org website.
Thank you for being part of RNESU. We look forward to working with you child(ren) again this year.
Superintendent of RNESU