Safe, Smart Start

I’d like to take a moment to thank students, parents, faculty, and staff for your teamwork which has greatly contributed toward a safe, smart start to the school year. It is of paramount importance that we continue to follow the Safety and Health Guidelines that have been provided to us by the Vermont Agency of Education and the Vermont Department of Health. Please take time to review the updated, more stringent guidelines link for the most current safety information that goes into effect on November 16, 2020. In order to maintain a safe, smart start we will need to continue to work together as a community to adhere to the Safety and Health guidelines.

Return to Four Days of In-Person Instruction for Grades 5 and 6

Beginning on Monday, November 16th students in grades 5 and 6 will be welcomed back to BFA Fairfax for four days of in-person learning: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Georgia students in grades 5 and 6 will return on Monday, November 30th for four days of in-person learning: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. In order to accommodate the return of Georgia students in these two grades, we will need to create additional space to maintain the Safety and Health Guidelines for a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, we will continue to monitor previously mentioned benchmarks prior to November 16th and November 30th before welcoming back fifth and sixth grade students for increased in-person instruction.

The Champlain Valley Regional Superintendents Association determined benchmarks that need to be in place for grades K-6 to increase in-person instruction are as follows:

● Sufficient staffing levels.

● No or low COVID activity in our community.

● Collaboration with the Department of Health, using algorithms to support response, actions, and decisions.

● Routines are efficient, assessed, and adjusted to meet the needs in compliance with the guidance from the Department of Health and the Agency of Education.

Just One Word

In the midst of a pandemic I believe it is important to take time to look at the bright spots that surround us and I encourage you to take the time to look up amidst all the unpredictability that is going on within our daily lives. One of our dedicated teachers,

Emily Wills encouraged her 7th grade students at BFA Fairfax to create decorative stonesas a reminder of “One Word” that will serve each individual student as an inspiration. Two words that students chose that seem very compelling for this time in history include “Social” and “Acceptance.” The one word that I rely on and have selected for the year 2020 is “Gratitude.” I make the choice daily whether going for a run or a hike to think about the things that I am grateful for.

Engaged Community Partners

Allison Mackenzie, one of our professional educators at Georgia Elementary & Middle School is hosting a Zoom meeting for her students to connect with Senator Dick Sears from Bennington, Vermont. Senator Sears worked with youths in a residential setting for many years as an educator himself. This virtual connection will provide students with an authentic learning opportunity with a respected state leader, to learn more about civic responsibility.

Focus on Writing

Within the shifting instructional models that we are currently experiencing, sometimes new relationships occur which benefit students in new ways. At Fletcher Elementary School the music teacher, guidance counselor, and art teacher have formed a unique partnership dedicating time to plan project based learning activities for students, while combining their unique skill sets. Jennifer McConnell, Lisa Coale, and MC Baker created a “Storm Walk” for students allowing for instruction across the academic curriculum, while strategically sharing the arts and infusing social emotional learning into the learning experience. This exercise in teamwork lends itself beautifully to individual student growth in written and verbal communication.

Enthusiastically Yours,

James Tager is the Superintendent at Franklin West Supervisory Union. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jrtager

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