COVID-19 Updates for Families

All of the below messages from Superintendent James Culkeen are in regards to COVID-19, with the most current at the top.
September 18, 2020
 
Family Fitness Fest - EXTENDED
Our virtual Family Fitness Fest is in full swing! Because folks are enjoying the event so much we made the decision to extend the cutoff for one more week! That means that your family has until Friday, September 25 to join the fun and complete the virtual challenges for a chance to win. Prizes for this year’s event include kick balls, basket balls, gardening equipment, and more! Click on the link below for instructions on how to participate.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON FAMILY FITNESS FEST
 
Frequently Asked Questions Update
Please note that we have added one more question to our FAQ page about busing. We have also added an update to the first question on our list, “Will the SVSU be offering school care?” click on the link below to view the updated page, which includes answers to “Will there be assigned seats on the bus during the week of the 28th and will everyone be required to wear a mask? When will I know the bus schedule?”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SVSU FAQ WEBSITE PAGE
 
Preparing for a Return to In-Person Learning
Screening Before School
As returning to in-person learning starts to become more of a reality, we want to make sure all students and families understand what to expect upon arriving at their school building. Please watch the video, linked below, to get a better idea what school building entry screening will look like.
 
 
Building Safety
Please review the Building Safety Protocols- Student prior to September 28th to learn more about what your child should do before they come to school and what arrival will look like when they get to school.
 
 
School Supplies
As we continue to prepare for in-person learning, please remember that your child should bring their chromebook to school every day. Your child’s chromebook will travel back and forth to school. Develop a system for getting the chromebook back and forth to school safely.
 
This year, less is more, as we keep our learning environments free from extra materials to allow for a thorough cleaning each evening.
 
Consider a simple labeled backpack or bag to hold personal items. Pencils, pens, crayons, and markers should be contained in a labeled pencil box or container.
 
WAM!
Members of our district behavior support team developed an acronym to help our students understand COVID-19 guidelines – WAM! The short, punchy word stands for Wash your hands, stay Apart, and Mask up, and will be used as a way to help teach and remind students of the COVID-19 Guidelines. The following videos were created to help introduce WAM to our students. Please share the age-appropriate resource with your child.
 
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September 11, 2020
 
We hope that the first week of the 2020-2021 school year was an exciting and successful week for you and your student. Below, please find resources and information to help us continue our goal of having a safe and healthy start.
 
Frequently Asked Questions Update
Please note that we have added information to our FAQ page. The updated version of our timeline for reopening can be found under the question title “What is the timeline for Phase II?”
 
 
Attendance Protocol
Please remember to review the attendance information for your child’s grade span. This information can be found on the SVSU website by going to Distance Learning Resources, then Family Resources, then Expectations for Remote New Learning, and then clicking on the link that corresponds to your child’s age, or by clicking the link below. Please note that there is an added expectation of engaging in learning activities each day.
 
 
Digital Citizenship
Because our students are using technology a bit more than they used to, we wanted to make sure families had resources on digital citizenship. The video linked below is a positive resource to share with your student, as it lays out guidelines on how to behave when in a digital classroom or online in general. For families, we have also included a link to Common Sense Media which provides information that parents should be aware of as they allow their students to socially engage online.
 
 
Family Fitness Fest
The SVSU is proud to announce our second annual Family Fitness Fest! This year's event will be held September 14-18. Due to COVID-19, this year's celebration will be all online. However, all of the great aspects of last year's event will still be here - including tons of prizes! Click on the link below for instructions on how to participate.
 
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September 4, 2020
 
We look forward to welcoming your students into our virtual classrooms on Tuesday, September 8. Hopefully you are able to enjoy the last few days of your summer.
 
Frequently Asked Questions
We want to thank all of the SVSU families who took part in our call for questions last week. We believe that our newly formed FAQ page will clear up some of the most important questions as your students get ready to begin the new academic year. Please continue to check this page for more questions and answers to be added in the future.
 
 
Meals for Students
We are pleased to announce that the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union’s (SVSU) Food Service Program will resume production of healthy and well-balanced meals for students beginning Tuesday, September 8. We will continue to feed our students, free of charge, through drop-off locations and “grab and go” style pickup from the MAUMS cafeteria doors.

Unitized meals (breakfast and lunch) will be prepared at the Middle School production kitchen. The Abbey Group’s professional staff will prepare meals in a safe and sanitary environment. Monday through Friday, breakfast and lunch meals will be provided simultaneously and one person will be allowed to pick up meals for any child age 18 and under via two distribution methods:
Delivery via modified bus routes – bus stop locations and approximate times for meal pick-ups will be posted here in the “Meals for Students” section of the COVID-19 Updates and Resources page on www.svsu.org website.

Pick-up via a “grab and go” style of service at the Mt. Anthony Union Middle School cafeteria (exterior doors) – hours of operation will be 7:30AM until 12:00PM (noon).
Please note that vehicles will not be allowed to drive into the Middle School courtyard.
 
 
Let’s Talk Tech
The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union and the Bennington Free Library are partnering together for a virtual series to help adults learn how to better support students who are engaging in online learning. Join SVSU Director of Technology Frank Barnes, SVSU Education Technology Specialist Sally Bisaccio, and folks from the Bennington Free Library as they talk about SeeSaw and Google Classroom. The team will be doing a series of these events, but this particular one will be held next Thursday at 5:30pm.
 
August 28,2020
It is our goal to begin this year by implementing best practices in health and safety during the COVID-19 era. This week you should have received a welcome back letter from your child’s principal with details related to the start of school on September 8. You will continue to receive updates from the SVSU every Friday. After reviewing the information from your child’s school and the resources found on SVSU.org, we understand you may have further questions.

Opportunity for Questions
Hopefully you have seen our survey for family feedback, which was posted on our website and social media accounts earlier this week. This survey gives you the opportunity to submit questions to the SVSU. We will use the questions generated to create a FAQ to share with the school community and continue to update our plans. This survey will close TODAY, August 28 at midnight, so please submit your questions as soon as possible.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE SURVEY
 
Hand Washing Resources
As always, we would like to share resources to help promote health and safety in our community. This week, we have two videos: one geared towards our elementary schoolers, and one more suitable for our older students. These two videos will demonstrate how to properly wash your hands:
 
 
Chromebooks
Families who still need a Chromebook for their students will need to pick them up at their individual schools! You will need to call your school during regular operating hours to schedule a pick-up time. Families will need to provide the following information when scheduling the pick-up:
  • Name of the responsible adult picking up the device (will be required to sign a release form)
  • Student names
  • Current phone number and email address of child’s primary adult family member
 
Families can call the helpline at 802-753-5828 for more information or to make alternative arrangements.

Individual school phone numbers are as follows:
MAUHS - 802-447-7511
MAUMS - 802-447-7541
Bennington Elementary - 802-442-5256
Molly Stark Elementary - 802-442-2692
Monument elementary - 802-447-7979
Pownal Elementary - 802-823-7333
Shaftsbury Elementary - 802-442-4373
Woodford Hollow Elementary - 802-442-4071
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August 26, 2020
It is our goal to begin this year by implementing best practices in health and safety during the COVID-19 era. This week you are receiving a welcome back letter from your child’s principal with details related to the start of school on September 8. You will continue to receive updates from the SVSU every Friday. After reviewing the information from your child’s school and the resources found on SVSU.org, we understand you may have further questions.
Please use the form below to submit questions to the SVSU. We will use the questions generated to create a FAQ to share with the school community and continue to update our plans. This survey will close on Friday, August 28 at midnight.
 
 
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August 21, 2020
 
Excitement continues to build as we get ready to welcome back our school staff next week. We are looking forward to preparing for the start of the academic year on September 8. Please read the following updates for more information on the start of our year:
 
Masks
As we said last week, each Friday through the end of August we will be sending out information that will help your children learn how we can all work together to Plan for a Strong and Healthy Start. This week’s information from the CDC and the Vermont Department of Health focuses on masks - making, wearing, and even washing facial coverings.
 
Masks will be an important part of the upcoming school year, as “all staff and students are required to wear facial coverings while in the building. They must also wear them when outside of the building if adequate physical distancing cannot be maintained. Adults doing drop-off and pick-up should wear facial coverings.” (Vermont Agency of Education Strong and Healthy Start: Guidance for Vermont Schools Revised: 8/11/2020)
 
Vermont Department of Health Face Mask Guidance (Revised: 7/28/2020)

A face mask or covering must be worn properly to be effective and avoid the spread of germs:
  • Wash your hands before putting it on.
  • Be sure your mouth and nose are covered.
  • Hook loops around your ears.
  • Do not touch it or pull it down while in public.
  • Keep it on until you get home.
  • Remove it without touching your eyes, nose or mouth, then wash your hands
    immediately.
 
Note: We are asking students and adults to wear double layer cloth masks with hook loops for ears. Facial coverings with ties, gators, scarves or bandannas, or valves are not allowed.
 
Opt-out of in-person instruction
Last week we released a survey that allows you and your family the option to opt-out of in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. We wanted to clarify that this survey is not the “final step” of the opt-out process, but rather the first step. By completing the survey you will be signed up to receive the official form to apply to opt-out of in-person instruction. There will be return windows from All Remote/At-Home Learning that align with the following grading period windows:
  • K-8 (trimesters)- fall window return date: November 23rd; winter window return date: March 15th
  • 9-12 (quarters)- fall window return date: November 2nd; winter window return date: January 25th; spring window return date: April 7th
 
THIS SURVEY HAS CLOSED
 
Please return your Household Income form
We sent out a reminder about this last week, but it’s so important we wanted to say it again - please fill out your Household Income form! In order to re-certify our students for the free meal program, filling out and returning this form is vital. Please fill out and return the form, linked below, by September 15, 2020. Your information will be kept confidential in our SVSU Finance Office and reported back to the State of Vermont to ensure funding for our vital programs. While your student may not directly need the free meal program, many in our community do. Don’t forget - all families who return the form will be entered into a raffle for either an Apple IPad or a Lenovo Chromebook! Return the form to: SVSU Central Office ATTN: Amanda Webber, 246 South Stream Road Bennington, Vermont 05201.
 
 
2020-2021 Bus Survey
Our bus survey will remain open until 3pm on Monday, August 24. As a reminder, this survey is MANDATORY, whether your child is riding the bus or not. Although the school year will begin with remote learning, we need to continue to plan for students reentering the building. Please fill out the survey, linked below.
 
THIS SURVEY HAS CLOSED
 
Pick up your Chromebooks
And last, but certainly not least, a message on Chromebooks! Beginning August 24, families that still need a Chromebook for their students will pick them up at their individual schools. They will need to call those schools during regular operating hours to schedule a pick-up time. Families will need to provide the following information when scheduling the pick-up:
  1. Name of the responsible adult who will be picking up the device (will be required to sign a release form)
    Student names
  2. Current phone number and email address of child’s primary adult family member
  3. Families can call the helpline at 802-753-5828 for more information or to make alternative arrangements.
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August 14, 2020
 
As September quickly approaches we want to make sure our families are fully equipped for a safe and healthy start to the school year. Today we wanted to send out four resources, the first being a short video produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Starting this weekend continuing every Friday through the end of the month, we hope that you watch these videos as a family to help prepare for the return to school. It is important that your children understand how to stop the spread of germs.
 
 
Let us know if you plan to opt-out of in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. Please fill out the survey, linked below. If your student is planning on engaging in remote learning for the entire school year, this survey must be filled out by August 21!
 
THIS SURVEY HAS CLOSED
 
By now you should have gotten a Household Income Form in the mail. In order to re-certify our students for the free meal program, filling out and returning this form is vital. Please fill out and return the form, linked below, by September 15, 2020. Your information will be kept confidential in our SVSU Finance Office and reported back to the State of Vermont to ensure funding for our vital programs. While your student may not directly need the free meal program, many in our community do. Don’t forget - all families who return the form will be entered into a raffle for either an Apple IPad or a Lenovo Chromebook! Return the form to: SVSU Central Office ATTN: Amanda Webber, 246 South Stream Road Bennington, Vermont 05201.
 
 
The redeployment of Student Chromebooks will occur the week of August 17th. All devices will be deployed from the high school cafeteria (as in the spring) daily between the hours of 7:00 am - 4:00 pm. We are not scheduling pick-up this time based on school building or last name in order to allow for flexibility. Any household that has not picked up their student’s device by 4:00 pm Friday, August 21st will need to schedule a pick-up by calling the Family Helpline at 802-753-5828.
The procedure will be as follows:
  • Vehicles will drive into the circle at the front of the high school and bear to the right. Everyone should remain in their cars.
  • Someone will come to you for ID verification, and you will be asked to sign an agreement to care for and use the device as per SVSU Policy #6141, after which the device will be checked out and delivered to your car.
  • Families who have students in more than one school will be able to pick up all devices in one trip.
    • NOTE: All students who need to borrow a device should pick them up prior to the beginning of their first day of school in order to ensure they are ready to learn from day one.
      • Parents/guardians may call the helpline weekdays between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm at 802-753-5828 if alternative arrangements are needed.
      • Online training sessions will be offered (in collaboration with the Bennington Free Library) to families who would like to learn more about Chromebooks, Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or Zoom. Sessions for other training may be requested by emailing Frank Barnes at fbarnes@svsu.org
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August 7, 2020
 
The SVSU is planning for a safe school opening, using VT Agency of Education guidelines, to begin in the fall of 2020 by implementing best practices in health and safety in the COVID-19 era.
Although the school year will begin with remote learning, we need to continue to plan for students reentering the building. For the 2020-21 school year, all children who are located in a school walk zone will need to walk or be transported to school by their family.
 
For those students outside of walk zones, we need an accurate number of students who will require bus transportation. It is highly preferable for families to drop off their students with personal transportation, if possible. In order to guarantee the health of our community and maintain social distancing, school buses will be running at approximately 25% capacity.
In order to qualify for riding the bus during the 2020-21 school year, you must pre-register for transportation. Do this by filling out the form, linked below.
 
The information recorded with this form will be used when your child is scheduled to return to in-school learning.
Information about PreK busing will be distributed separately
 
NOTE: We ask that you complete one survey per student. For example, if you have three children, please complete the survey three times.
 
THIS SURVEY HAS CLOSED
July 31, 2020
 
Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union will begin the 2020-2021 school year via remote learning on September 8. Students will not be returning to school buildings at this time, but will be expected to engage in a balanced synchronous and asynchronous learning experience. As a reminder, synchronous learning is a learning event in which a group of students and an educator are engaging in learning at the same time (e.g., Zoom Morning Meeting). Asynchronous learning is the idea that students learn the same material at different times and locations (e.g., Learning practice activity posted in Google Classroom or SeeSaw).

There will be scheduled time for PreK-12 students to engage in safe, socially distant new building orientation, interventions, and programming in order to have a more progressive entry into Phase II, which will begin later in September.
 
Middle and High school students will engage in remote learning until the end of October. At that time we will review the most current guidance and move toward students returning for in-person instruction in either Phase II or Phase III.

Later in September PreK and elementary school students will begin to enter phase II of reopening, with 10-20% of students returning to the buildings. This population will include those whose learning needs require face-to-face instruction. The second stage of Phase II will include 50% capacity in all PreK-elementary buildings. The final stage of Phase II will include 100% of PreK-elementary students engaged in face-to-face learning. There will be a fully remote option for those families, PreK-12, who choose not to return their student to face-to-face learning.
 
All plans are subject to change based on updated guidance from the Vermont Agency of Education and Department of Health based on the trajectory of the virus.

We want to thank all families who completed our Survey on Fall Reopening. With 1,437 responses we were able to see representation from all SVSU buildings (Pre-K-12th grade). This information was used during the development of our reopening plan, and will continue to be considered as we move forward.

A few highlights from the results were as follows:
  • Almost 70% of survey respondents had the capacity to provide personal transportation for their child to and from school
  • Over 80% of survey respondents shared that they would be able to get their child to school without bus transportation
  • Almost 40% of respondents were interested in remote learning options for their child
  • Almost 98% of respondents had access to internet in their homes
 
Again, we will continue to send out communications every Friday at noon through svsu.org, social media, and K-12 Alerts.
 
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July 24, 2020
 
We want to thank everyone who filled out the SVSU Fall Planning Survey that closed this past Wednesday at noon. We received 1,437 responses. We are now in the process of compiling the data to support next steps along with any updates that we receive from the Vermont Agency of Education. We continue to work towards sharing the district plan the week of August 3.
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July 17, 2020
 
The SVSU Fall Planning Team is asking for your participation in a survey about Fall Reopening. Information about the preliminary three tier plan can be found at the link below, with an accompanying survey to be completed by Wednesday, July 22 at noon. Please note that the family survey link can be found at the bottom of the informational page on the website. The faculty/staff survey will be emailed to all employee email addresses.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SURVEY AND INFORMATION ON FALL REOPENING
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July 13, 2020
 
Please return borrowed SVSU Chromebooks and/or chargers to the SVSU Tech Services Repair Depot located at Mount Anthony Union High School. To find the Repair Depot, enter the HS circle, drive around the building to the stop sign, and turn right. The Repair Depot is located in the brick building on your left, third door from the end. Hours of operation are July 13th until July 24th Monday through Thursday from 7:00 AM until 4:00 PM and Friday 7:00 AM until 1:00 PM. Please call the helpline at 802-753-5804 for assistance. If you have already returned devices and chargers, thank you.
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July 10, 2020
 
The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union has established a Fall Planning Team for the 2020-2021 school year. The purpose of the team is to prepare for reopening using guidelines from the Vermont Agency of Education in order to begin the school year while focusing on safe, clean, and well-organized social distancing.
 
The team, made up of a diverse representation from each of our schools, is working on developing multiple plans for the coming year. Although there is not a firm plan of action to date, proposals include planning for all remote learning (phase 1), more restrictive in-person learning (phase 2), and less restrictive in-person learning (phase 3).
 
Moving forward, please expect weekly updates distributed on svsu.org, social media, and K-12 Alerts. An update will be shared during the week of July 13 with an opportunity for families to ask questions and provide feedback. Further on, the Fall Planning Team is dedicated to the goal of providing a SVSU plan by August 1 for reopening in the fall.
 
Right now the most important information we need from families is up-to-date contact information. Please make sure that you have filled out the SVSU Change of Address Form found on svsu.org under the Documents and Forms tab. Share your updated information with your school or call our SVSU Central Office at 802-447-7501.