Dear HUUSD Staff and Community-
I am writing to give you an update on our district planning regarding COVID-19. As you know, guidance and information changes almost hourly. Groups of leaders from the Governor's office, Agency of Education, Superintendent state teams, and our own district leadership are meeting to make decisions about our schools. From 8:00-12:00 today, I worked with superintendents from around the state to determine how decisions will be made about school closures, dismissals, and other aspects of both. I am receiving a large amount of email messages with many differing opinions. It is not possible for me to respond to them all, but I am reading and seriously considering all the thoughts shared. Please go to the homepage at huusd.org for all the most current information and communications. I will send updates, such as this one, on an as-needed basis.
Here is what I believe to be most relevant today:
1. The decision for our public schools to close is not mine alone like a snow day. Decisions to close are made at this time by certain criteria (see links below) with guidance and approval by the Vermont Dept. of Health and the Agency of Education. Basically, the guidance is that unless there is some connection with the virus and the school(s), public PreK-12 schools remain open. This decision is further complicated not only by deciding to close, but for how long and under what conditions would school reopen. If you disagree with these criteria or process, it would be best if you reach out to these agencies.
2. As far as I am aware, the status in HUUSD today is that only 1 test was administered, and it came back negative. We have approximately 10 staff or students being monitored without symptoms. None returned to the states after March 4th, and this Monday their monitoring or quarantine period will end. None of them have the symptoms that warrant testing or are ill.
3. I understand that many of you want our schools to be closed, that the spread occurs beyond those that traveled to the identified countries, and that businesses and government offices are closing around us. However, I must follow the guidelines provided and consult with the VT Dept. of Health and Agency of Education to close our schools. My understanding is that Governor Scott will be making an address at 5:30 tonight. After we have that information, I will confer with other superintendents and state officials. As of now, our schools remain open. If that changes after the Governor's address or over the weekend, I will put out another message.
4. If schools remain open next week, (I have no information from today that suggests otherwise), we will be following these guidelines beginning Monday, March 16th:
· each day I will be making a decision to remain open or not based on the information shared above.
Our Task Force meets every Monday. It can also convene on an emergency basis. Some topics we are discussing include:
Finally, our district is doing everything we can to be cautious and responsive to this unfortunate situation. We will take it one day at a time, knowing that we should all expect changes along the way. Be well.