About Franklin West SU

School District in Fairfax, Fletcher, Georgia, VT. Apple Distinguished Program. League of Innovative Schools. "A belief in what is possible."

Changing Instructional Models Strategically and Methodically


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

Keeping Healthy during a pandemic


As a parent, when our children are ill we want to help them get better. We also wrestle with how much school or which activities they’ll miss. And, let’s be honest, it can also impact our own work, and that presents its own dilemmas. As we digest the central Vermont COVID outbreak and its subsequent impact on workplaces and schools, and as we enter into the winter months, we all need to be attentive to how our actions impact our communities.

A couple of weekends ago, my family and I were all looking forward to a Saturday morning of soccer.  It was to be our daughter’s first bus trip to an away game. She was excited for the game, and excited for the ride with her teammates. 

Unfortunately, when Saturday arrived, she woke up feeling crummy. Given the world that we are living in, it was easy to catastrophe and wonder if she had “it.” But, given the helpful guidelines that our school nurses had created, my wife and I were able to quickly remember that she didn’t have any of the big symptoms (in the red box), just some standard cold symptoms.

In our family, we come from a belief and culture of working through adversity and supporting our teammates.  We also want to support our kids in having new experiences and playing hard.  Yet, as members of the community we also believe in the need to look out for one another’s health and well-being. So, following the nurse’s guidelines and in the interest in keeping the team and those around us healthy we made the decision to notify the coach and keep our daughter quarantined and miss her first away game.

Honestly, it felt weird to stay home, when the urge was to show up and support the team. It challenged our belief in the need to send our daughter to play, or even for her to sit on the sidelines and cheer for her teammates. But, in this world that we find ourselves living in, many of our habits and beliefs seem to be challenged on a daily basis.

Then came the school week. With precious few days of in-person instruction, we were faced with another dilemma – keep her home and miss her few in-person school days?  Perhaps it was paranoia, but when I called the doctor I noticed, and mentioned, that I was also starting to feel a sore throat coming on.  Sure enough, our doctor recommended that we quarantine until we could get a COVID test, which was arranged for later that afternoon.  We would also be required to quarantine until the results were available.

So here we were, my daughter missing one of the few days of in-person instruction she had available to her, and personally being faced with the prospect of not being in the school. While still needing to do the essential work of trying to keep school running smoothly and plan for opening it up further, this was not an easy place to be. 

Now, granted, we are fortunate to have health insurance and the ability to work remotely.  But as someone who deeply values working hard but also doing what is right for our community, in this case doing the right thing felt somewhat counter-intuitive.  Instead of powering through, we needed to hunker down.  As I reflect back on the moment where I considered toughing it out, Dr. Levine’s comment during this week’s press conference about certain decisions during this pandemic seems to resonate: “what we can do, is not always what we should do.”

I am happy to report that our test results were negative and it was just a seasonal cold.  We did remain in Quarantine as recommended and our girls are back to practicing for their final games of the season. 

It seems as if we are faced with tough decisions about things that we used to consider day-to-day things.  Yet, in this new normal, just taking that time to pause, reflect on what is most important and what we are really after in the big picture might just help us with moments where we’d prefer to just do what we have always done.  Perhaps most importantly, please know that all of us in your schools will continue to support you and your kiddos as we all work together to keep one another healthy so we can all make it through this.

Take care, be well and stay healthy.

Justin Brown is the Principal at BFA Fairfax Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jbrownenator.

FES Principal Models Digital Tools to Engage Students


Principal Dodge from Fletcher Elementary School developed his Principal’s Challenges beginning last March when students began remote learning. They were a way for him to stay connected with students and families, and for them to continue to see him, as well as a way for him to support teachers’ work making connections to academics at home.

His latest challenge, the Dinosaur Book Challenge grew out of a desire to emphasize FWSU’s Big 4 goal of “Literacy Proficiency Focusing on WRITING as Effective Communication for ALL LEARNERS.” His challenges usually begin with a book that he reads aloud. For this challenge, he wanted to try to integrate some digital tools as a way to engage students more. He decided to use green screen technology so that he could immerse himself in a prehistoric world. Despite this being his first attempt at learning this new skill, it worked well and he was able to have fun. As we embrace our new learning environment that comes from remote learning, this was an effective way to model how to use new digital tools to help students learn.

The read-aloud portion of the video supports literacy in a variety of different ways. It allows the kids to watch as many times as they want. In addition, by connecting a writing challenge to the story, he was able to challenge kids to write a letter to a dinosaur, which is also the main component of the book. In the video, he talks about how writing is a great and fun way to communicate. So, he challenged students to write to Champ because the Vermont Lake Monsters have donated several Champ plush animals who are wearing baseball-themed masks. Every student who wrote a letter to Champ had their name placed and was entered into a drawing for the Champ “stuffies.” All students that participated received a latter on behalf of Champ, written by Mr. Dodge.

This latest challenge allowed him to build a love of writing in a really fun and engaging way that begins with a book that children could also find in the school library.

Angelique Fairbrother is the Digital Learning Coach at Franklin West Supervisory Union. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her on Twitter @FWSUtech

BFA Fairfax High School Welcomes New Guidance Staff


The BFA High School Guidance department has experienced some change this year. Dave Buckingham retired as Director of Guidance after many years at BFA and Katherine McElroy stepped into that position. This left us with a need for a new high school counselor. We were fortunate to find Linnea Jahn who began working with our students in August. We asked Linnea a few questions to help the FWSU community get to know her a little better.

Where is your hometown? Brattleboro, VT

Where did you go to college? I earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology at UVM and a masters in School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling at UVM as well. 

What were you doing before coming to BFA? I graduated from my masters counseling program in May 2020 and during that time completed internships at Mount Mansfield Union High School, Chamberlin Elementary School, and the Howard Center. 

What’s your favorite school subject? When I was in high school my favorite classes were psychology and sociology. 

What’s your favorite food?  Fettuccine Alfredo 

Any interesting facts about you that you’d like to share? I am also a Swedish Citizen and speak Swedish fluently. 

What do you like to do outside of school? I love nordic skiing, hiking, and gardening. 

What are your first impressions of BFA?  This school community is filled with caring and competent educators and students that value one another, are passionate about learning, and strive to make school a place in which everyone feels like they belong. 

Linnea has been busy working with students to help them get adjusted to the new school year, helping with college applications, and organizing admissions visits and testing. She has taken on the task of introducing the Engage survey to our students. Engage is a tool that will helps us to get to know our students better and explore and expand their connections within the school. Linnea has very quickly proven to be a positive addition to our guidance department and our school.

Welcome Linnea!

John Tague is currently Principal of BFA Fairfax High School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jtague252

Engagement and Learning In An Outdoor Classroom


The start of this school year at BFA Fairfax brought with it many new and creative ways to teach and learn. One of these unique opportunities takes place in our new outdoor classroom. Prior to the beginning of the school year, Mrs. Caswell applied her new learning about facilitating instruction in an outdoor environment. She presented a comprehensive plan in mid-August and immediately began constructing a learning space in the woods on our school property.   

Why do it?  What are the benefits?

Outdoor learning provides a unique opportunity for our students to engage with nature. Researchers have consistently indicated that being outside is an effective environment to foster mindfulness, an appreciation of nature, and integration and application of academic content. Additionally, this promotes greater physical health and engagement through movement and breathing fresh air.

“Children’s lives frequently feel as hectic as our own.  If you can inject a little serenity into their time with you, you will help them enjoy and understand both the natural world and themselves a little better,” (Lingelbach).

Fortunately for our school, we have many spaces to implement outdoor learning! Several resources are available such as our hiking trails, the Recreation Path, a pavilion, a gazebo, and many tent structures for students and staff to utilize throughout the day.

“Knowledge without love will not stick.  But if love comes first, knowledge is sure to follow.” 

“Systematic knowledge can emerge organically from lots of hands-on experience,” (Sobel).

Ken Finch describes these benefits in The Risks and Benefits of Nature Play:

  • Cognitive: observation, concentration, exploration, collecting, sorting, experimenting, and building
  • Creative: imagination, make up stories, create elaborate pretend play scenarios, endless materials 
  • Physical: running, jumping, balancing, climbing, carrying, coordination 
  • Health: lower rates of illness, less obesity, better motor skills, power of concentration, improved vision 
  • Social and Emotional: taking turns, learning to respect others’ opinions, making up rules, working together, sharing discoveries, negotiating
  • Spiritual: observing, daydreaming, reflecting

ECO Daily Schedule

After six weeks of exploring and learning in the outdoor classroom, our students and staff continue to engage daily with this space regardless of the weather condition. They look forward to going outside and being hardy Vermonters on the colder and rainy days. Here is an example of a daily schedule that Mrs. Caswell uses to engage students and integrate learning both inside and at the outdoor classroom:

Day: 1 Nature

Essential QuestionActivitiesResourcesTime/location
Nature Library/Museum ProvocationWhat is Nature?Likes/Dislikes~Eco Journal- draw/write~Nature booksECO JournalsClassroom 
Morning Circle

~Discuss nature~Share own nature experiencesField
Cooperative Game

4 Corners (with nature) Use terms they came up with during discussion?Posters- Animals, plants, land, waterfield

Transition to Forest

Anchor Breathfield

Lesson in the Forest

How do we observe our surroundings? What do you hear, see, smell, and wonder?

Fox Walking Lesson

Hiking trail 
Sit Spot/JournalingWhat did you notice?
Sketch what you noticedECO journalclassroom
Closing Circle
What was special about nature?Classroom

We are thrilled to have this resource as part of our learning community and are hopeful that it will continue to be a resource after the pandemic ends. We are so pleased with the level of engagement, learning, and our students’ desire to learn outside and apply their knowledge in the classroom. 

Thomas Walsh is currently the Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

Resilient Students


It is the start to a new school year and this year has been unique to say the least.  The arrival to school each day is different, classroom settings have changed, and our daily routines and schedules have been altered to assure we are implementing the safest practices for students and staff. But, even with such change and upheaval students continue to amaze us as they adapt and acclimate to their surroundings.  Always with a smile, showing flexibility, and putting forth a great effort to be successful in their surroundings and daily protocols.

Physically distancing themselves from one another…

Wearing masks throughout the day…

Working  in new classroom settings that seem so different...

It is with amazement that we observe such fortitude in our students.  They are strong, adaptive, and problem solvers when change enters their world. In times that seem so difficult, it is refreshing to be reminded that we can adapt and learn from our experiences. 

Such change has led to eating outdoors, participating in art and music outside and overall being flexible in any given moment of each and every day.  Our students are resilient and have proven to us their strength and positive attitudes this year. We are proud of them for their accomplishments!

Steve Emery is the Elementary Principal of Georgia Elementary Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him @Emery_Gems.

Fairfax/Lamoille Football Thriving In New 7v7 Football Format


The 2020 Fall high school athletic season is like no other in the history of Vermont sports. When school athletic programs began practices on September 8th, it became immediately apparent that, whether watching a cross country running practice, a soccer technical session, or an on-field football workout, COVID-19 and the accompanying safety precautions and guidelines had significantly altered the student-athlete experience.  After careful consideration and analysis by Governor Phil Scott’s medical experts and School Sports Task Force, as well as the implementation of specific guidelines and safety-related changes, all traditional fall sports were given permission to compete.  

Although most sports are taking place with little to no change to the rules of the game, one sport, football, had to be significantly altered to ensure the health, safety and well being of all participants. The 2020 version of football in Vermont high schools involves a low contact, one-hand touch, 7v7 format.  Passing is the name of the game, and whether a large offensive lineman, or speedy running back, any player is able to contribute to the scoring and defensive success of their team. 

In a typical season, our Fairfax/Lamoille Cooperative team would participate in Division 3, which is Vermont’s smallest school division.  With this year’s schedule moving to a regional format, the team has faced a schedule of mostly Division 1 teams (the largest in Vermont), and is currently making a name for themselves in the Vermont 7v7 football landscape.  Wins over traditional football powerhouses BFA St. Albans and Colchester, a 1-point overtime loss to CVU, and a mere 5-point loss to the Burlington/SBHS Cooperative team have demonstrated that Fairfax/Lamoille is a force to be reckoned with, and will be an extremely tough draw for any team, of any school size, in the playoffs.  

The Fairfax/Lamoille football team and staff have fully embraced this new style of football, have approached it as a new challenge, and are thrilled to simply have the ability to compete during this unprecedented fall season.  This positive approach is leading to success on the field, and well-deserved recognition in the Vermont football community.  They are great role models for fellow student-athletes and athletic programs, and continue to make us proud every day.

Geri Witalec-Krupa is the Director of Student Activities at BFA Fairfax. Geri is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her @GLWit

Community Partners Provide Books and Hats to Fletcher Students


Partnerships with two community members have resulted in Fletcher Elementary School students receiving free winter hats and 24-hour access to free books. The addition of a Little Free Library and the distribution of over 100 hand-knitted hats took place at the school earlier this month. Both were the result of locals who volunteered their time and donated materials to support students at the school.

“I’ve seen them around for years,” Fletcher resident Chris Lenox, who built and installed a Little Free Library at the school, said. “My daughter And I hiked the Long Trail in 2018. There is a Little Free Library at the trail crossing on Route two in Bolton. That was the first time I took advantage of a Little Free Library. I am a scout leader in Cambridge and a member of Rotary in Cambridge and wanted to do something to serve our community in Fletcher.”

The concept of a Little Free Library is a simple one. A small weatherproof box is installed outdoors and patrons can both take and donate books free of charge. The design of the boxes range from simple to elaborate. Wisconsin resident Todd Bol created the first Little Free Library in 2009, sparking a global movement that now includes over 100,000 book-exchange boxes in more than 100 countries worldwide.

“We don’t have a public library in town,” Lenox said. “So, I thought this would be a good way for community members to access books. We all have more stress and worries in our lives now and we need to take care of ourselves and each other. Many activities outside the home have been shuttered or don’t feel safe, but you can still disappear into a good novel. I’ve seen little libraries transformed into food pantries as well.”

Franklin West Supervisory Union, of which Fletcher Elementary is part, has created a set of “Big 4” goals for the 2020-2021 school year, including equity for all. According to third and fourth grade teacher Tracey Godin, the Little Free Library will begin to level the playing field with access to books for all families in a convenient location.

“There can be many roadblocks to families having access to books for children,” Godin said. “Sometimes, books are cost-prohibitive or simply having the time and the means to travel to buy them can be difficult. The Little Free Library is conveniently located at school where families can access it 24-hours a day and all of the books are free. It will go a long way in promoting equitable access to books for our students and the entire community.”

According to the Little Free Library website, littlefreelibrary.org, the world’s largest book-sharing movement has four main goals of supporting literacy, demonstrating a reading lifestyle, forging partnerships with families, and establishing new avenues of community service.

“Academically, children growing up in homes without books are on average three years behind children in homes with lots of books,” according to the organization’s website.

“Having a Little Free Library right in front of our school promotes our belief that literacy is crucially important,” librarian and academic interventionist Rebecca Cardone said. “Having constant access to books for students year-round compliments our school library services and increases access to books in our community which is far from public libraries. By including adult books, the Little Free Library also provides families a chance to model a love of reading and stories.”

Fletcher Elementary is also celebrating a community partnership that, earlier today, saw each student receive a hand-knitted winter hat.

Rose Mathieu is a resident of Four Winds independent living in St. Albans. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Mathieu participated in a knitting group in her community. Even after health guidelines forced the group to stop meeting together in person, Ms. Mathieu continued to make hats at home – one every day – and has created more than 250 knitted hats to donate to local groups. She has donated her wares to the St. Albans City Schools, the WIC supplemental nutrition program for families, Northwestern Counseling and Support Services, and now, she has donated one of her amazing creations for every single student in our school. 

“The hats are so beautiful,” third grader George Austin said. “It is a very kind and generous gift that will help keep all of us warm in the wintertime.”

Each Fletcher student wrote Ms. Mathieu a thank-you note using the school’s specially imprinted postcards.

Engaging community partners to support students is also a goal in FWSU’s Action Plan. 

“By engaging our incredibly generous and skilled community partners, we increase the resources available to students,” Instructional Coach Denette Locke said. “With these two examples, those resources include books and winter clothing, but the possibilities are endless. Engaged community partners offer invaluable opportunities for our students academically, socially and culturally. Those connections make the world just a little smaller for our students.”

Fletcher Elementary’s Little Free Library is open to the community year-round, seven days a week, at any time. It is located in front of the school’s main entrance. The library is officially chartered and registered with the non-profit organization LittleFreeLibrary.org and is one of only two Little Free Libraries in Franklin County.

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School 
and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon

Honoring and Supporting our Educators During Challenging Times


On Monday, October 5th educational institutions around the globe honored teachers on World Teachers Day.  World Teachers Day has a strong contemporary connection to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been a feature of project-based learning here in FWSU.  Historically, the day to honor teachers was established in 1994. It serves to commemorate the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO recommendation that addressed the international status of teachers around the world through standard-setting to highlight the important contributions of the teaching profession.

This year’s theme for World Teachers Day, “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future,” is illustrated daily by the vital and complex work that teachers are engaged in during this pandemic. Our teachers work collaboratively to ensure the best possible, safe, responsive, and engaging delivery of education for all learners, within the changing contexts of school.

There is no doubt that these are the most challenging times all stakeholders in education have faced. Much necessary emphasis in education is placed on the critical role of keeping our learning communities both engaged and safe simultaneously.  Concurrently, every educator in FWSU keeps an eye to the future by regularly asking this critical question; “What are we learning now that will help us to better meet the needs of all learners in the future?” In collaboration with their colleagues, they work daily to lead continuous improvements in teaching and learning, always thinking and planning to understand what will be best for our learners as we move forward.

This year’s theme reminds us that in order to lead in the present and reimagine the future, we must focus on networking and collaboration on a larger scale than we may have in the past. Educators are learning from each other across our schools, throughout our region and our state, and nationally and internationally.  Everything we learn provides us with an enlarged understanding of strategies and solutions we can apply in our own context of local problem solving to keep students safe and engaged with as much depth and frequency as possible.

One of the ways that we can honor the complex work of teachers during these uncertain times is to ensure we are supporting them in ways that attend to their wellbeing.  A post featured in the United Kingdom’s Digital Magazine Education Technology, Teacher wellbeing: teachers need our support now more than ever, addresses some key ideas to both honor and support our teachers’ need for and desire to be at their best for our students while leading the learning and reimagining the future. Here are two that we can highlight:

  • “Communication is Important for Teacher Wellbeing”: Regular communications with our teachers help to support their wellbeing. Our administrators strive to provide teachers with up-to-date information and strategies to engage them in key decision making and also provide regular forums for questions, input, and feedback. Just as our teachers center the needs of our students to ensure responsiveness to each and every one of them, centering communication is key to supporting the wellbeing of our teachers. 
  • “Balanced Lifestyle and Strong Role Models”: Teachers in FWSU have always prioritized wellness for students and are strong role models for them.  As they ventured into uncharted territory this school year, they came with a plan to build relationships, create stronger connections, and address the social and emotional needs of their learners within the various learning contexts and scenarios. This is complex work. Administrators at each of our schools are finding ways to support their teachers’ needs to experience the joy of teaching and learning, get much-needed weekend rest, and find innovative ways to meet the daily challenges of the times that could  improve our approaches to wellness now and in the future.

The WORLD TEACHERS DAY JOINT STATEMENT FROM UNESCO, ILO, UNICEF AND EDUCATION INTERNATIONAL sums up why we are so proud of our FWSU educators and understand how important it is to support them: 

“In this crisis, teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that #LearningNeverStops, that no learner is left behind. Around the world, they have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to allow education to continue.”


Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum,
Instruction and Assessment at Franklin West
Supervisory Union. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

Maintaining a Safe, Smart Start

As we move into the month of October, the Franklin West Supervisory Union Leadership Team continues to assess our readiness toward increasing in-person instruction for elementary age students.  Based on my ongoing conversations with school board members, faculty, staff, parents, and students to gain perspective on increasing our school days, I believe it is of utmost importance to increase in-person learning while still maintaining the goals we established for a safe, smart start for all stakeholders.  The revisions to the health and safety guidance, the Secretary of Education’s announcement of a shift to Step Three for Vermont schools, coupled with scientific data reported on low transmission rates among younger children are critical factors in our decision making.  From this, we believe we can return our BFA Fairfax Elementary, Georgia Elementary, and Fletcher Elementary students back to school for four days of in-person instruction on October 26th. All elementary students currently being served by the hybrid instructional model will receive in person learning on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday beginning October 26th.  The hybrid instructional model will not be an option for elementary students after October 26th.  Wednesday will remain a remote learning day for all FWSU students, which will allow for continued cleaning protocols, teacher planning, office hours for students, and team collaboration time. 

Following the latest guidance, the Champlain Valley Regional Superintendents’ Association determined benchmarks that need to be in place for elementary students 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 their 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.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

As we begin to prepare for an important change pivoting to more in-person instruction, please be cognizant of the fact that within our safe, smart start timeline, we have just completed the fourth week of school.  In order to maintain health and safety protocols, principals, faculty, and staff will be making additional adjustments to prepare to welcome back all of the elementary students four days a week.  Wearing face coverings and social distancing of three to six feet as feasible will remain in place.   While in school, we will continue to work on educating our students on the importance of physical distancing as well as verbally reminding them to “keep their distance” for the health and safety of all. Anything that you can do at home to reinforce the need for physical distancing and mask-wearing would be appreciated.  

Additionally I would be remiss if I did not mention that conversations with our leadership team include the future possibility of increasing in-person learning for middle and high school students as well.  We will continue to look at any possible adjustments or accommodations that can be made for those grade levels,  both individually and collectively, as we continue to move forward with our thinking. In the meantime we will continue to grow and work to improve the hybrid instructional model with our secondary students. While observing students at all levels I continue to be impressed with the resilience and drive of our students.  I believe that the positive attributes of perseverance and determination are a credit to the students, themselves, as well as parents, faculty, staff, and our supportive community.

The plan is subject to change in-between now and October the 26th, if we do not meet the benchmarks I mentioned above.  Stay safe and stay well.  Thank you for sending us the very best students in the State of Vermont. 

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