Good evening, HUUSD Community-
I hope you are all well during this ever changing landscape of COVID -19. I feel bombarded by information and guidance. You must feel this way too. The principals and I have been receiving inquiries today about when our schools will reopen for full day child care for essential employees as per Governor Scott's directive. The admin team met yesterday and we received new guidance late last night. We stand ready to do our part, but we also have many unanswered questions. HUUSD is in a planning phase. Please take the time to read what I sent to staff today. I would like to hear from our community at large before making any final decisions. Please email me at [email protected]. All thoughts welcome.
With warm regards,
Dear HUUSD Staff-
Our district, every one of us, has been digging deep and working almost around the clock to do what is being asked of us during this time of school dismissal and state of emergency in Vermont. Thank you all - we rock!. We figured out food and distance/remote learning, with high quality programs for both, in a very short period of time - huge feats. Now, we are on to a new dilemma that concerns me greatly. Please read and consider this:
These are unprecedented times. We are all worried and overwhelmed, at work and home, as life seemingly has turned upside down. Of course we will do whatever we can to support others in our Vermont Strong way. Governor Scott's directive and the AOE guidance direct schools to provide child care for students ages 6 through grade 8 that provides meals, groups of no more than 10 in classrooms with the application of social distancing ( I'm thinking VELCRO is needed for the littles), and support of the continuous learning plans for these students, essentially providing their home schooling. The list of eligible families has grown quite large. Please read both documents to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements.
You will likely hear that some districts are jumping in and opening childcare right away. We are not. More information is needed quickly so that we can understand the impact and determine our capacity. Our first step is to collect two pieces of very important data. First, today, we will be sending out widely a message to parents asking them to identify if they are in the eligible group and what childcare they specifically need. Second, we are asking each HUUSD instructional employee covered by our CBA"s (not custodial or food service) to complete the form below as to your eligibility to be called in to staff these programs.
Our admin team will continue reading all the guidance, evaluate the responses to both surveys, and make decisions from there. It is extremely challenging to find your footing in such decisions when the guidance changes rapidly. We must consider everything before we move forward with this. I believe that based on these pieces of guidance from yesterday, if you integrate the expectations, it appears as though we would be reopening schools to 50% or more of the students if their parents decide to send them. The guidance also says busing is up to the superintendent.
At our admin team yesterday, we discussed that the implementation of this directive seems opposite to the guidance as to why schools closed, the concerns about flattening the curve, and the immediate need to distance ourselves, severely limiting contract. About the virus, we are learning it can live on surfaces for 7 days, we no little about who carries the virus when asymptomatic, and we are not sure of its severity on children, learning more about that daily. Therefore, we will move forward in a planning phase with an abundance of caution collecting information from you, our valuable staff, and our community at large before implementing this new model.
The form is required to be completed and submitted by 5:00 tomorrow Friday, March 20th. In addition, I am eager to hear from any of you, your thoughts and best thinking about moving forward, and whatever you would like to share. Please send me an email. Your consultation and input are central to my final decision about if, when, where, and how we open our schools as child care centers. Stay well. And remember, the only way out is through...one day at a time.