COVID-19 Updates and Resources » COVID-19 Updates for Staff

COVID-19 Updates for Staff

All of the below messages from Superintendent James Culkeen are in regards to COVID-19.
 
Purpose: Plan for a safe school opening, using VT AOE guidelines, to begin in the fall of 2020 by implementing best practices in health and safety in the COVID-19 era. Remote learning (phase 1), more restrictive in-person learning (phase 2), and less restrictive in-person learning (phase 3)
 
Note: 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. Updates to documents will be highlighted in red with a revision date.
 
You will be required to login to your SVSU Google Apps account to access some of these documents
October 9, 2020
 

As we continue to progress with our plan for a safe and healthy start, please remember that there is no school on Monday for Indigenous Peoples Day. 


Purpose

Plan for a safe school opening, using VT AOE guidelines, to begin in the fall of 2020 by implementing best practices in health and safety in the COVID-19 era. 


Action Step

Develop district guidance and protocols for each phase that can then be adapted to each building using the AOE guidance, CDC and Department of Health reference materials.

  1.     Phase 1- All Remote Learning 
  2.     Phase 2- More Restrictive
  3.     Phase 3- Less Restrictive

Weekly Message

When we affirm to each student, “Yes, you exist; I accept all that you are, and I value time in your company,” it opens the door to the successful teaching-learning dynamic so important to academic success.  What to Do in Week One? By Rick Wormeli September 2016

  • Yes, It Is That Important
  • Make Sure Students Feel Safe
  • Know Your Students Well
  • We’re In This Together 

Phased Timeline Update

Our phased timeline for reopening has been updated and extended through the week of November 30. The timeline can be found in the FAQ page under COVID-19 Updates on svsu.org or by clicking the link below. 


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE AN UPDATES PHASED REOPENING TIMELINE


New Protocol:

SVSU Guidance for K-12 Science Laboratory Safety_SY 20-21 NEW 10/6/2020

On 9/17/20, the VT AOE released the Strong and Healthy Start: Guidance for K-12 Science Laboratory Safety. The steps used to guide the creation of the SVSU Guidance for K-12 Science Laboratory Safety:

  1.     Using current SVSU protocols for a Safe and Healthy start, the SVSU Science Curriculum Team (along with two additional administrators)- invited to gather on 9/25/20.  All guidelines sent by the AOE, along with a document released on 9/17/20, were used to draft SVSU protocol for K-12 Science Laboratory Safety. This group reviewed risk assessment considerations and guidance from AOE guidance/references.
  2.     This draft was given to the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent by the Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment. The Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent reviewed the draft with the COVID-19 Nurse Coordinator (done on 10/5/20).
  3.     A final copy of the protocol was given to principals of each school and also included in the weekly staff newsletter (week of 10/5/20).

 Thank you to all of the SVSU Science Curriculum Team that gathered and worked on the draft on 9/25/20. Also a note of gratitude to Ashley Walker, COVID-19 Nurse Coordinator, for her guidance and diligence in reviewing this protocol.  

From the Strong and Healthy Start: Guidance for K-12 Science Laboratory Safety-

As students return to school for the 2020-2021 school year, it is important to ensure that student safety and well-being are accounted for in all learning environments. The nature of science relies on students problem-solving by gathering information, gaining understanding via reasoning and critical thinking, and communicating conclusions and arguments about the phenomena that make up the world around them. COVID-19 school closures created challenges for science educators as many three-dimensional laboratory activities require in-classroom, specialized equipment and resources.The Education Quality Standards (EQS) require the teaching of science in all Vermont schools. The use of three-dimensional inquiry-based activities is a good way to engage all student populations as science inquiry provides equitable learning experiences that enhance student  performance

 

Opt out Reminder

Please review the Family Opt-Out Protocol INTERNAL Family Opt-out Protocol SVSU Fall Reopening 2020 

  • Section I is reviewed by the family prior to committing to the experience and highlights the attendance and participation expectations. Families also agree to follow the remote expectations found on the SVSU website.
    • Families agree to follow the lessons linked to prioritized standards already prepared but follow along remotely.
      •  Ensure that lessons are differentiated to meet the needs of all students. Consider the target of the lesson and ways to ensure access for students using accommodations linked to materials (e.g., setting Newsela grade levels or other independent level text, manipulatives for math), mode of presentation, and modalities for students to respond in order to access the learning targets.  
    • Teachers and staff are encouraged to check-in via phone, email, or through office hours to provide support.
  • Section IV highlights the process to opt back in. 

Mental Health and Staff Safety Updates

Student Disengagement-

Many of Vermont’s LEAs and local systems were experiencing challenges with detecting, tracking, and acting upon disengagement and truancy even before the COVID-19 event. In the remote learning context (Spring 2020), schools and districts often experienced difficulties in contacting hard-to-reach families. Although the fall return places us within a different context regarding the pandemic, LEAs may experience similar or new challenges in establishing family and student engagement. Most critical in addressing this challenge will be viewing disengagement as an early alert that the student and/or family require additional supports and assistance.  In addition, it is possible, if not likely, that some LEAs and schools will see an increase in anxiety-based school refusal given the heightened stress and emotional demands of our national context. School systems should be well-prepared to assist in helping to mobilize such resources for families in need.  (A Strong and Healthy Start Social, Emotional and Mental Health Supports During COVID-19 VTAOE 8/14/2020)



Staff Wellness

Visit the Vermont Department of Health Website Coping with Stress Resources

  • Get the facts
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Identify the source of your anxiety
  • Let your anxiety be a unifying force
  • Self-care is key
  • Maintain healthy routines

Distance Learning Playbook:

Engaging Tasks- Module 6  Distance Learning Playbook

“Think functions of engagement, not just tools” (Distance Learning Playbook Grades K-12 Fisher, Frey, and Hattie @ 2021- Module 6)

So, ask the question, what do students need to be able to accomplish in their learning?

(from Frey, Fisher, & Gonzalez, 2013, p.1)


  • Find Information efficiently and be able to evaluate whether the information is useful, credible, accurate, and corroborated by other sources
  • Use information accurately and ethically
  • Create information such that its creation deepens one’s understanding
  • Share information responsibility with audiences for a variety of purposes

 Resource One- The resource, Teaching Tolerance, has teaching strategies vetted for building “literacy and social emotional skills while exploring meaningful texts” or topics.

 ***For grades 3-12, please check out Community Inquiry: Nurture students' speaking and listening skills with strategies that ask them to draw upon texts during meaningfuland respectfulclassroom discussions. This is a bank of teaching strategies that support teachers facilitating classroom discussions.


Resource Two- All SVSU staff should connect with their schools’ MTSS/Ci3t teams, see members in the chart below. (These teams have five professional learning experiences with the University of Kansas.) Visit this site for resources- Responding to Covid-19/Ci3t

We encourage all to view the 3 minute video on Instructional Choice (second video on the right side of screen, under “Videos for Educators”)


2020-2021 District Comprehensive MTSS Leadership Team (Ci3T)

School

Team Representative for District Leadership 

Pownal

Todd Phillips/Cindy Collyer/Taylor Robertson/Karel Holcomb/Donna Jones

Shaftsbury

Jeff Johnson/Kathy Zemianek/Elena Cochran/Kim Bush/Gabby Watson/Sarah Case

Molly Stark

Kim Tenner/Chrissy Burr/ Kathy Hunt/Allyson Hoffman/Valeria Crossley/Abbie Thurber/Madeline Levy/Donna Bazyk/Carrie Gardner/Jennifer Reidy

Benn El

Edie Dunn/Sarah Rogers/John Duval/Jamie Poulen/Pam Brownell/Michelle Podkowka

Monument

Donna Cauley/ Erin Trawick/Kim Wessex/Melinda Harrington/Christopher Lane/Julie Monroe

MAUMS

Tim Payne/ Cassidy Carlotto/ Adam Tronson/Jessica Fabian/Rob Poblocki/Christina Marks/Darri Capela- Beach

MAUHS

Christopher Barnes/Hayley Grossman/Meaghan Morgan-Puglisi/Jeremey Neill/Jeff Howe/Roy Palmer/Dave Beriau/Jennifer Strattman/Nancy Vanderbilt/Stacey Subik

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October 2, 2020

 

Purpose: Plan for a safe school opening, using VT AOE guidelines, to begin in the fall of 2020 by implementing best practices in health and safety in the COVID-19 era. 


Action Step: Develop district guidance and protocols for each phase that can then be adapted to each building using the AOE guidance, CDC and Department of Health reference materials.

  1.     Phase 1- All Remote Learning 
  2.     Phase 2- More Restrictive
  3.     Phase 3- Less Restrictive

Weekly Message:  “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates


Danger in Those Emails! 

With a new school year begun, we are again seeing an uptick in scammers and hackers trying to get us to click on things that are dangerous to our privacy and our internet and digital networks. We would like to make sure folks understand the danger of clicking on links in spam emails. Please CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE INFORMATION that will help you identify the legitimacy of your email messages.


Mental Health and Staff Safety Updates

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations (Center for Disease Control- CDC)


How you respond to stress during the COVID-19 pandemic can depend on your background, your social support from family or friends, your financial situation, your health and emotional background, the community you live in, and many other factors. The changes that can happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways we try to contain the spread of the virus can affect anyone.

 

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

People who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (for example, older people, and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions).


Teacher Clarity at a Distance- Module 5 Distance Learning Playbook

“Teacher clarity has a respectable effect size of 0.75. In other words, it's a potential accelerator of students’ learning. We can’t forget that students in any school environment need to know what they are learning and how they will know if they are successful. ”(Distance Learning Playbook Grades K-12 Fisher, Frey, and Hattie @ 2021- Module 5)

 

Four practices that combine to create clarity (Page 80):

  1.     Clarity of organization: Lesson tasks, assignments, and activities include links to the objectives and outcomes of learning.
  2.     Clarity of explanation: Information is relevant, accurate, and comprehensive to students.
  3.     Clarity of examples and guided practice: The lesson includes information that is illustrative and illuminating as students gradually move to independence, making progress with less support from the teacher.
  4.     Clarity of assessment of student learning: The teacher is regularly seeking out and acting upon the feedback they receive from students, especially through their verbal and written responses.

 

Start with the standards - “... teachers have to know the standards for their grade level and subject area if they are going to make informed decisions about learning expectations and assessment.”(Page 82)

 

We encourage all SVSU teachers to use the standards, scales and documents found in the Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements document. Please note that you must be signed in to your apps.svsu.org account to access these documents. 


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE PROFICIENCY-BASED GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS FOR 2020-2021


 

  • The SVSU District Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements 2020-2021 are Courses/Domains/Prioritized Standards/Scales/Performance Tasks for Grades K-12.

 

  • The SVSU District Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements are based on the sample sets of graduation proficiencies created by the Vermont Agency of Education, in collaboration with Vermont educators and staff from Great Schools Partnership with input from the SVSU Curriculum Teams.

 

Mount Anthony Union High School Update

Prior to commencing the mold remediation work at Mt. Anthony Union High School, it has been decided to retest the indoor air quality of the math wing and floors above (commonly referred to as the ‘84 wing).  The retesting will provide the current indoor air quality status in the building and determine if any additional remediation is required.  A consulting firm has been retained to test and provide an updated report with recommendations for remediation. 

 

With the updated recommendations, we will seek bids from qualified remediation contractors with extensive experience in comparable projects.  The project will be completed as soon as possible and be conducted under the supervision of a licensed engineering firm.

 

Given these developments, we will have students currently on remote learning remain remote until October 26th or until such time that the remediation has been completed and the building retested. 

 

We will provide updates as they become available.


New Buttons under COVID-19 Resources

If you’ve been to the COVID-19 Updates section of SVSU.org lately, you may have noticed a new feature: buttons! We have placed three green buttons on the top of our Family Updates page to help you navigate to some of our most helpful resources just a little bit easier: meals for students, and resources on travel restriction guidance. 


The resources on travel restriction guidance come directly from the State of Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Vermont Department of Health. The first resource provides guidelines on when/how to quarantine when coming to Vermont from a different state. The second resource is a regional map put out by the Vermont Department of Health, alerting folks to levels of COVID-19 in specific counties of surrounding states. 


CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE BUTTONS


Essential Travel

In the note above we shared that we featured resources from the State of Vermont in a new button on the COVID-19 Updates for Families page. In reviewing these resources you may have questions about essential travel as a SVSU employee. Please note that essential travel is allowed in your daily commute as a staff member of SVSU. In fact, individuals engaged in a daily commute to and from their job are expressly exempt from the need to quarantine by Executive Order by Vermont Governor Scott. 


For questions about Travel Information and supporting our Safe and Healthy Schools, please consult with your school’s nurse, SVSU Human Resource Department, and/or your personal physician.


Flu Shot Clinic

Our friends at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center are hosting Drive Thru Flu Clinics every Thursday in October, 2-6pm. All people, 6 years of age and up, are eligible to participate in this service. Please bring your insurance card with you, as the flu shot is free with most insurances. If you do not have insurance, you will be billed only $33. Folks must be in a car to enter the drive thru, with no more than four passengers. 

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September 25, 2020
 
With our transition into SVSU Phase II Hybrid Learning, we all continue to work hard, driving towards our shared purpose: to plan for a safe school opening, using VT AOE guidelines, to begin in the fall of 2020 by implementing best practices in health and safety in the COVID-19 era. We appreciate your resilience and flexibility as plans are implemented.
 
Weekly Message
“Mr. Anders was dressed for success, animated, and excited. And finally, even though they were apart, students knew that they could reach him and that he was there. At the basic level, teachers need to be seen as believable, convincing, and capable of persuading students that they can be successful.” (Distance Learning Playbook Grades K-12 Fisher, Frey, and Hattie @ 2021- page 66-68)
 
Building Safety Protocols
Please review the building safety protocols for staff and students. It is especially important to familiarize yourself with these protocols before the incoming of more students on Monday. UPDATED 9/24/2020

Remote Work Requests Due to Unplanned Absences (sick/personal days)
  • Employees who are unable to work on a given day should submit sick or personal time as they would under normal circumstances
  • Employees are not permitted to work remotely on days when they are sick
  • Remote work arrangements are done only in specific circumstances and with advanced notice and approval and will not be granted for single day or unplanned/unscheduled absences
    • Employees should NOT contact their administrator to request to work remotely due to an unplanned absence
 
Mental Health and Staff Safety Updates
Take care of your mental health. We said it last week, but it’s worth saying again: pandemics can be stressful. You may be experiencing increased stress during this time. The fear and anxiety of this situation can be overwhelming. Get immediate help if you are in crisis.

Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health

 

Please review other resources found on the Center for Disease Control(CDC) Website for further information. 

 

Teacher Credibility- Module 4 Distance Learning Playbook

At the basic level, teachers need to be seen as believable, convincing, and capable of persuading students that they can be successful.”(Distance Learning Playbook Grades K-12 Fisher, Frey, and Hattie @ 2021- Module 4)

  1. Trust (Page 68)
  1.  If you make a promise, work to keep it.
  2.  Tell students the truth about their performance.
  3. Don’t spend all of your time trying to catch students in the wrong.
  4.  Examine any negative feeling you have about specific students.
  1. Competence-(Page 72) Deliver synchronous and asynchronous instruction that is coherent and organized.  Learning routines should be predictable and understandable to students.
    1.  Make sure you know the content well and be honest when a question arises that you are not sure about.
    2.  Organize lesson delivery in a cohesive and coherent way.
    3.  Consider your nonverbal behaviors that communicate competence, such as the position of your hands, or facial expressions.
  2. Dynamism- (Page 74)The passion that you bring to a synchronous and asynchronous educational setting. Your passion did not change because you are teaching from a distance. Make sure that your students know that.
  3. Immediacy- (Page 76) Focus on accessibility and relatability. Teachers who move around the room are easy to interact with increase students’ perception of immediacy. That’s hard to do in a virtual space. Consider breakout rooms and using student names during live sessions and making sure every student hears their name every day.
 
Note on MAUHS
Please note that due to a building situation unrelated to COVID-19 MAUHS will continue to operate remotely next week, September 28 - October 2.
 
 
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Sept. 18, 2020
 
The SVSU Continuity of Learning team is continuing to work hard, driving towards our shared purpose: to plan for a safe school opening, using VT AOE guidelines, to begin in the fall of 2020 by implementing best practices in health and safety in the COVID-19 era.
 
Currently we are developing district guidance and protocols for each phase of reopening that can then be adapted to each building using the AOE guidance, CDC and Department of Health reference materials.
  1. Phase 1- All Remote Learning
  2. Phase 2- More Restrictive
  3. Phase 3- Less Restrictive
Weekly Message
“It is useful to understand the difference between classroom management and discipline, or behavior management. A classroom management plan outlines the procedures, routines, and expectations for all the students in the class. These include simple routines such as retrieving and replacing materials, as well as more conceptual ideas such as the expectations about the way students interact with others and their learning environment. New technologies further increase the need for rules in digital environments” (Distance Learning Playbook Grades K-12 Fisher, Frey, and Hattie @ 2021- pages 25 and 29)
 
Teaching Expectations
Teach and rehearse the expectations. This is a critical component for ensuring an efficient virtual classroom. (Distance Learning Playbook Grades K-12 Fisher, Frey, and Hattie @ 2021- page 30)
  1. Expectations are taught during each distance learning session at the beginning of the year and revisited occasionally during the remainder of the year.
  2. Teacher models - If an expectation is written communication on a discussion board, model respectful and academically appropriate examples.
  3. Introduce WAM - members of our district behavior support team developed an acronym to help our students understand COVID-19 guidelines – WAM, Wash your hands, stay Apart, and Mask up. This 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 students.

Technology
Please view the following two resources addressing technology in the remote classroom. The first resource lays out best practices and guidelines for recording live video lessons with your students, including how to record classes while following FERPA requirements. The second resource, Response to Zoom Bomb, comes after an unfortunate Zoom Bombing incident that occurred last Friday. Please review these safety and effective instruction guidelines to ensure a safe learning environment for all students.
 

Mental Health: Pandemics can be stressful
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
 
CLICK HERE TO REVIEW RESOURCES FROM THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL

Staff Safety Updates
After receiving feedback concerning ease of communication with our staff, we have decided to create a Staff Update page on the COVID-19 Updates section of the website. This page features up-to-date safety, social/emotional, attendance, and technology resources, as well as an archive of past COVID-19 related weekly newsletters. We will continue to update this page every Friday, or whenever appropriate.
 
As our website is still less than a year old, we welcome feedback on how to better this resource for our staff and community.
 
 
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 students have until Friday, September 25 to complete the virtual challenges and submit their evidence. Please share this resource with your students, aged 4-14!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON FAMILY FITNESS FEST
 
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September 11, 2020
 
“To be clear, the pandemic teaching of 2020 was really not distance learning. It was crisis teaching. Let’s use what we have learned and are continuing to learn whether in a face-to-face or distance learning environment.” (Distance Learning Playbook Grades K-12 Fisher, Frey, and Hattie @ 2021- page 2)
 
We continue to be dedicated in planning for a safe opening, using VT AOE guidelines, to begin the school year by implementing best practices in health and safety in the COVID-19 era. Please view the information below to help better prepare you for the coming weeks:
 
Updated SVSU Phase Timeline
Please click the below link for an updated view of our Phase Reopening Timeline. While Phase I is coming to a close, plans for Phase II and Phase III are upcoming.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE UPDATED PHASE II TIMELINE

Student Attendance
Attendance is recorded daily and helps to track our connections with students. Please continue to review Student Attendance SVSU Fall Reopening 2020. Please note that the big difference between the current system and last spring is that the expectation includes engagement of learning activities. Please reach out to your building administrator or director if you have any questions about this process.

“Plans for reopening school in the fall should focus on the return to in-person instruction. It is important that each district plan for a certain amount of flexibility to shift school instruction along a continuum of options from full in-person instruction to full remote learning, including a hybrid learning approach that might include both….On each day for which attendance is recorded, an educator makes contact with the student by video chat or telephone or the student logs into a Learning Management System (LMS) and engages in learning activities.” (A Strong and Healthy Start- Hybrid Learning 7/15/2020)

1. Provide clarity of organization: Work with your school community to identify meaningful learning activities linked to identified prioritized standards and targets.
2. Provide clarity of explanation: Ensure learning activity directions are clear and understandable.
3. Provide clarity of examples and guided practice: Provide supports that gradually lead to independence.
4. Provide clarity of assessment of student learning: Share success criteria and provide opportunities for redos and retakes. Keep the focus on growth and learning.
(Distance Learning Playbook Grades K-12 Fisher, Frey, and Hattie @ 2021- Module 5- Teacher Clarity at a Distance)

As soon as you recognize that the student is struggling with meeting the attendance criteria, reach out to your building administrator, or EST designee to problem solve next steps. Educational Support Team(EST) SVSU Fall Reopening 2020
 
Mental Health
The first days of school are focused on welcoming students back to school, building relationships, and reviewing expectations. Part of our responsibility is to support students as they navigate the many changes to their home and school lives impacted by the pandemic. Please take a few moments to review Crisis Response SVSU Fall Reopening 2020 created by SVSU counselors and clinicians this past summer. Please reach out to the mental health supports in your building if you have any questions.
 
Staff Safety Updates
Please review the update to the Building Safety Protocols- STAFF that outlines the procedure for screenings when moving from building to building or leaving and returning.
 
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 instruction on how to participate.
 
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September 4, 2020
 
After another busy week of planning and professional learning we are approaching the final weekend of summer. Next time you sit down at your desk, a virtual classroom of students will be looking back at you. We wanted to send out a few reminders and updates regarding next week:
 
Safety Protocol
Please familiarize yourself with the Building Safety Protocols- STAFF. 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. The use of clear face shields is allowable as a secondary protection, but a double layer cloth mask must still be worn underneath.
 
Remember that this safety protocol includes daily temperature checks for employees entering the building. Follow-up with your building administrator about times that daily temperature checks will start at your designated school entrance.
 
Student Attendance
Please review our Student Attendance Expectations for Remote Learning prior to the start of school on Tuesday morning. Any questions about this document should be directed to your building administrator.
 
Staff Attendance
All staff are encouraged to return to their assigned building the week of September 8. You do still have the option to work remotely, though please notify your building administrator or director first.
 
Social/Emotional Health
We wanted to make sure everyone was aware of The Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This program is available to all staff through Invest EAP. EAP provides “confidential, short-term counseling, information and resources” and is free to all employees and their household members. Please click HERE to view a brief pamphlet on the program.
 
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August 28, 2020
 
We hope that everyone had a productive week of connecting with your coworkers, planning for the upcoming academic year, and growing through our important Professional Learning opportunities. Today, we wanted to give a reminder of those opportunities, while also sharing an update on safety in our schools.

Please remember that we are all working towards the shared purpose of planning for a safe school opening, using VT AOE guidelines, to begin in the fall of 2020 by implementing best practices in health and safety in the COVID-19 era.
 
Safety Protocol
Please examine the Building Safety Protocols- STAFF to review the updated guidance linked to the use of face shields. 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. The use of clear face shields is allowable as a secondary protection, but a double layer cloth mask must still be worn underneath.
 
This safety protocol will go into effect for staff next week. This will include daily temperature checks for employees entering the building. Follow-up with your building administrator about times that daily temperature checks will start at your designated school entrance.
 
Professional Learning
Thank you to all staff who have completed the professional learning and reached out for support. Please remember that two of the professional learning experiences require you to fill out the Professional Learning Evaluation Form for: The Racial Justice video and the VTVLC class (either the teaching staff link or the supporting staff link).
 

As a reminder, all staff must complete The Racial Justice video:
The SVSU Educational Equity in Practice Committee was formed in 2019 following the SU's receipt of a statewide grant aiming to train educators on practices revolving around equity. They are committed to the ongoing work of creating equity in our schools. This experience is a continuation of our racial bias training and touches upon key components addressed during the training. A link to a feedback/reflection form is offered to be completed after watching the video and will be reviewed by the district level committee.
 
All Teaching staff must complete the following Professional Learning opportunity on Online Teaching Best Practices:
This introductory class will help teachers who unexpectedly find themselves teaching online without having previous training in the pedagogy of online teaching. It is a selection of materials from multiple classes by the Northeast Online Teaching Institute, including Methods 1: Introduction to Online Teaching, Methods II: Online Teaching Tools & Techniques, and Online Teaching with Practicum. The class uses the seven non-optional National Standards for Quality Online Teaching to organize the class content. Optional certificate for professional learning available.
 
All School Counselors, Administrators, Media Specialists, Clinicians, Home School Liaisons, and paraprofessionals must complete the following Professional Learning opportunity on Supporting Online Students:
This free and open class is a much pared down version of our facilitated class designed for all educators who support students taking online classes. It was created for all those educators who support online students including school counselors, administrators, librarians, paraeducators, and others.
 
All staff must also review Zoom, Google Classroom Videos, and other resources found at the Distance Learning tab on the SVSU website- click here- scroll to “Video Tutorials.” No evaluation form needed for this activity.

Like in-person instruction, hybrid and remote learning should be implemented as part of a coherent instructional systems design relative to current education quality regulations which require each school district to have:
  • An Educational Support System.
  • A Local Assessment Plan.
  • A Coordinated Curriculum among all its schools.
  • A Needs-based Professional Development System
    • Safety
    • Instructional practices and assessment
(Agency of Education Guidance- Strong and Healthy Start 6/17/2020 and Hybrid Learning 7/15/2020)
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August 21, 2020
 
Dear SVSU Staff,
Welcome back. A greeting said to someone upon their return. This year we return to a year that is unlike any other in our collective educational memory. This year, we have a unique opportunity to re-imagine the possibilities.
 
Many of you may be feeling some anxiety or trepidation upon returning. I share that feeling, too. What I can offer is that the SVSU is committed to a safe and healthy school year. What I ask from you is flexibility and understanding as we navigate through these unchartered waters. Together we can do what is best for our most cherished asset--the students of the SVSU.
 
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” (Phil Jackson, coach)
 
Thank you for being part of the SVSU team.
We wouldn’t be opening school without the hard work of so many. I want to thank our building custodian and maintenance team, who have been here throughout the entire pandemic; our school and district staff; the Abbey Group and Dufour Transportation, who together kept our students and families fed; to our SVSU Technology Department who without their effort remote learning would not be remote; our school principals and vice principals, who worked through a challenging school ending and a summer lacking a vacation; to my fellow district administrators whose work this summer illustrated for me that it is my privilege to work with them. I would like to especially thank the leadership of both our SWVEA and SWVEA- ESP Associations, who throughout our weekly meetings, always agreed to continue the conversation even during those rare occasions where we did not agree. To all of those who took the extra step to serve on one of our school reopening or curriculum teams; to our school nurses for their public health guidance; to our teachers and support staff--since March 17th, your dedication to continue your work on behalf of our schools and our students is acknowledged and appreciated.
 
This year, together, we will reimagine the possibilities for our students.
James R. Culkeen
 
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August 14, 2020
 
As September quickly approaches we want to make sure all of our staff members are fully equipped for a safe and healthy start to the school year.
First, please complete the GCN Tutorials that will be sent out via email. Each tutorial is a great reminder of practices that support all of your students and staff. They are required to be completed by Friday, September 4.
 
Please remember that all staff will be returning to their assigned building on August 24, unless they qualify for an exemption outlined in the staff attendance document released on Friday, August 7th and confirmed by the SVSU Human Resource Department. Building principals will share specific schedules and staff locations for the two week time period between your return and the start of school on September 8. Work days will run from 8:00-3:00 between August 24 and September 4.
 
We have received questions about what exactly “Asynchronous Wednesdays” means. Every Wednesday will be an asynchronous day for all SVSU students to allow for teacher preparation, team meetings, and professional learning. Work hours will be 8 am-3:30 pm on these days. There will not be any synchronous learning for students offered on this day, unless approved by a building administrator or direct supervisor. A minimum of four-and-a-half hours of the seven-and-half-hour day will be dedicated to teacher preparation time.
Your daily responsibilities will be as follows:
  • Teacher preparation time will be at your discretion. Building administrators or direct supervisors will share weekly team meetings and professional learning opportunities that will be held prior to 1:00 pm.
  • Student Attendance: Each Wednesday attendance will be taken through student access to Google Classroom or SeeSaw, e-mail, or phone call. Review the Student Attendance SVSU Fall Reopening 2020 guidelines with your building administrator after you return to school for more information. Daily attendance is the requirement of the Agency of Education and reported monthly to the Secretary of Education. Each building will develop procedures to meet the requirements outlined above.
  • Students will use their assigned Google Classroom or SeeSaw account to access learning materials.
  • Paraprofessionals will be provided with an assignment.
 
As a reminder, we have many professional learning opportunities at this time. Please see the details below:
PreK-12 Administrators, Teachers, and Specialists VTVLC cohort of 15- Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative-10-Hour Certificate- Tentative start date the week of August 24th. This 3-week course is free to SVSU professional staff; there are a limited number of spots for this opportunity. To sign up: Complete this form 101A and email Lisa Poplaski lpoplaski@svsu.org please cc your building principal/administrator by 8/18/20
We are looking for one representative from each building to participate in this opportunity to support each school’s remote experience.
 
The Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative (VTVLC) is offering a facilitated course to a cohort of no more than 15 participants. This 3-week course will help teachers who unexpectedly find themselves teaching online without having previous training in the pedagogy of online teaching. It is a selection of materials from multiple classes by the Northeast Online Teaching Institute including Methods 1: Introduction to Online Teaching, Methods II: Online Teaching Tools & Techniques, and Online Teaching with Practicum. The class uses the seven non-optional National Standards for Quality Online Teaching to organize the class content. Upon satisfactory completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate from the Northeast Online Teaching Institute for 10 hours of professional learning.

PreK-12 Administrators, Teachers and Specialists Transforming Trauma- 3 credit graduate course- The link to register is on the flyer. Staff will also need to fill out form 101B and e-mail Lisa Poplaski. First meeting is 8/17/20. There are a limited number of spots for this opportunity. This is a SVSU supported offering so you do not need to pay upfront.
 
Many students today arrive at school with unprecedented adversity due to high rates of traumatic stress, the current pandemic, social isolation, and inequities. Often times, our traditional methods of relationship building, discipline, and instruction fall short for these students, leaving educators strained, frustrated, and self-doubting. In this workshop with graduate course option, we will study the harmful effects of trauma on students and on the workforce, the premises for trauma-informed practices, and the core capacities necessary to successfully address posttraumatic stress. The graduate class will take a more comprehensive look into these core capacities, with a focus on helping educators transform their mindsets in order to make shifts in their practice. Finally, we study the central components for building resilience, first for the workforce and then
 
K-2 Literacy Training- In order to provide a consistent knowledge and common language among K-2 teachers that is based on current reading research and evidence-based practices. The SVSU goal is to have all K-2 teachers, interventionists, and specialists move through the training. Teachers will receive hours towards relicensure and compensation outside of contracted hours. Contact Lisa Poplaski to sign up by September 4. Sessions are held once a month for two hours and will initially meet virtually.
Sample topics will include:
1. The Brain and Reading
2. Oral Language and Literacy
3. Word Blending: A Hierarchy of Skills
4. The Role of Automaticity
5. Text Reading Routines
6. Building Comprehension
 
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August 7, 2020
 
Good Morning-
As educators in August we traditionally are itching to get back into our classrooms and school buildings. However, your health and safety are our first priorities. In order to ensure your safety please review the following guidelines.
We wanted to clarify a few points from last week’s update:

All staff will return to their in-person assignments on August 24 to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year.
• Specific staff attendance information will be shared later next week after a review by key stakeholders.

August 24-September 4 will focus on teacher preparation to support all students, team meetings, and professional learning to support instruction and social/emotional and behavior expectations. The equivalent of five contracted days will be designated for team meetings and professional learning; the remaining equivalent of five contracted days will be for teacher preparation with paraprofessional support.
  • During the two week period of time between Aug. 24 and Sept. 4, professional learning linked to remote instruction will be provided for teachers and paraprofessionals.
  • Updated expectations for social/emotional and behavior, as well as academics will be shared that reflect the three phases of our Fall Reopening Plan.
  • At this time, there will be opportunities to learn more about the new social/emotional programs for K-12.
  • The equivalent of five contracted days will be for teacher preparation with paraprofessional support.
 
Technology Update:
  • Staff members who have not had their laptops updated should drop them off at the Repair Depot located in the East Campus building at the high school asap. There is a sign.
  • Teachers who do not have their machines updated prior to returning August 24th will need to have this done by their building tech, which will cause a significant delay in their accessibility.
  • NOTE: Anyone who did not update their Zoom accounts prior to the beginning of summer will NOT be able to do so themselves and will need Tech Services to perform that function.
 
Guidance until Aug. 24 for entering school buildings:
  • Buildings remain open between 8 and 1.
  • Prior to entry, self-screen and sign in.
  • All personnel must wear masks.
  • You’re welcome to go into your classrooms to get what you need, but please make sure to keep your visits brief.
  • Don’t move classroom furniture. Physical distance guidance may change by the time students return to your classroom.
  • Our dedicated maintenance staff has been working throughout the summer to ensure our safe return to the buildings. They need this time to continue preparing for staff return in two weeks. Please be respectful and allow them to work through new cleaning guidelines and procedures.
  • We know that at this point in the summer you are eager to get back to your classrooms and set up for the return of students. We are asking you to please bear with us and follow these guidelines at this time.

    The first day of school for students will be September 8th and will be remote.

    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.
 
TWO Professional Learning Opportunities for Professional Staff:
VTVLC cohort of 15- Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative-10-Hour Certificate- Tentative start date the week of August 24th. This 3-week course is free to SVSU professional staff; there are a limited number of spots for this opportunity. To sign up: Complete this form 101A and email Lisa Poplaski poplaski@svsu.org please cc your building principal/administrator by 8/18/20

The Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative (VTVLC) is offering a facilitated course to a cohort of no more than 15 participants. This 3-week course will help teachers who unexpectedly find themselves teaching online without having previous training in the pedagogy of online teaching. It is a selection of materials from multiple classes by the Northeast Online Teaching Institute including Methods 1: Introduction to Online Teaching, Methods II: Online Teaching Tools & Techniques, and Online Teaching with Practicum. The class uses the seven non-optional National Standards for Quality Online Teaching to organize the class content. Upon satisfactory completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate from the Northeast Online Teaching Institute for 10 hours of professional learning.
 
Transforming Trauma- 3 credit graduate course- The link to register is on the flyer. Staff will also need to fill out form 101B and e-mail Lisa Poplaski. First meeting is 8/17/20. There are a limited number of spots for this opportunity. This is a SVSU supported offering so you do not need to pay upfront.
 
Many students today arrive at school with unprecedented adversity due to high rates of traumatic stress, the current pandemic, social isolation, and inequities. Often times, our traditional methods of relationship building, discipline, and instruction fall short for these students, leaving educators strained, frustrated, and self-doubting. In this workshop with graduate course option, we will study the harmful effects of trauma on students and on the workforce, the premises for trauma-informed practices, and the core capacities necessary to successfully address posttraumatic stress. The graduate class will take a more comprehensive look into these core capacities, with a focus on helping educators transform their mindsets in order to make shifts in their practice. Finally, we study the central components for building resilience, first for the workforce and then for students.

Sincerely,
James R Culkeen
Superintendent
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July 31, 2020
 
Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union will resume online learning for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Beginning September 8, students will 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 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 from the Agency of Education and Department of Health and move toward students returning for in-person instruction in either Phase II or Phase III.

Later in September Pre-K 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, excluding those who have opted to continue remote 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 staff will return to their in-person assignments on August 24 to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year. August 24-September 4 will focus on teacher preparation to support all students, team meetings, and professional learning to support instruction and social/ emotional and behavior expectations. The equivalent of five contracted days will be designated for team meetings and professional learning; the remaining equivalent of five contracted days will be for building-based teacher preparation with paraprofessional support. The first day of school for students will be September 8th and will be remote.
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 staff members who completed our Survey on Fall Reopening. Please click on the links below to view the responses for both the family survey and the staff survey:
CLICK HERE TO VIEW RESULTS FROM THE FAMILY SURVEY
CLICK HERE TO VIEW RESULTS FROM THE STAFF SURVEY

*You must be signed into your apps.svsu accounts to view these documents.
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
 
Purpose– Plan for a safe school opening, using VT AOE guidelines, to begin in the fall of 2020 by implementing best practices in health and safety in the COVID-19 era.
 
We wanted to thank everyone who filled out the SVSU Fall Planning Survey that closed this past Wednesday at noon. We received 378 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. Below you will find the names of the members on the SVSU Fall Planning Team who represent diverse roles and responsibilities in our district. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for the many summer hours they have devoted to this work. We also have weekly meetings with the Southwestern Vermont Educational Association and Southwestern Vermont Educational Support Personnel Officers for which we are also appreciative for the collaboration and feedback.

1. PreK- Elementary (Laura Boudreau, Kate Abbott, Meghan Mezskat- Continuity of Learning Team Members)
o Nurse Lexi Vincellete (Pownal)
o Counselor Pam Brownell (Benn El)
o Teachers Sara Frey (EE), Jaraun Mustain (Shaftsbury), Ridgely Eckhardt (Monument)
o Specialists special educator Molly Dobias (Molly Stark) related service provider Jillian Petrey (District )
o SPED Administration- Charles Connelly and Paul Demarco
o Administration- Donna Cauley, Donna Bazyk, Edie Dunn, Jeff Johnson, Sandy Foster, Todd Phillips
2. Middle High (Frank Barnes and Melissa Senecal- Continuity of Learning Team Members)
o Nurses Nicole Dodge (MAUHS) and Ashley Walker (MAUMS)
o Counselors Tonia Buccerio (MAUHS) and Melissa Cleary (MAUMS)
o Clinician Bruce Smith (MAUHS) and Jess Fabian (MAUMS)
o Teachers (MAUHS) Mike Molloy and Emily Turner (MAUMS) Jenn Austin, Mike DiMaio, Macaela Kinney
o Specialists Charlene Webster (MAUHS) David Burch (MAUMS); related service provider Rebecca Mercer (SLP MS)
o SPED Administration Kathleen Milani
o Administration Nancy Vanderbilt, Steve Nixon, Mike Lawler, Rob Bahny, Tim Payne, Toney Lee
 
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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).
 
In addition to safety, curriculum has been a top priority in planning for the coming year. SVSU Curriculum Teams began meeting in late June to identify entry points to start the year. Plans include the braiding of key prioritized standards from the spring with focused fall prioritized standards. The start of the academic year will have a strong emphasis on social/emotional skills. The SVSU Counseling Group is working on the advisory guide for Second Step K-8, and Jostens 9-12, our new social/emotional primary resources.
 
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 staff and 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.