From the Superintendent's Desk

Mark Tucker, M.A. - Caledonia Central Supervisory Union

CCSU Schools Respond To School Closure Order - March 19, 2020

What is New

As I write this on Thursday afternoon (3/19), we are closing out Day Four of our response to Governor Scott's directive to close all schools in Vermont. He made that directive on Sunday last. Schools were in session on Monday and Tuesday - with diminishing attendance each day - and closed to all students starting on Wednesday. A lot has unfolded since I last wrote to you on Sunday afternoon when I received the Governor's order to close our schools, and I have finally caught my breath long enough to reach out to our communities.


This afternoon's update from the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) lists 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in Vermont, out of a total of 667 tested persons.


(Update: When I returned home from a Board meeting this evening, I heard the news that two patients in Vermont have passed away from complications related to COVID-19. The original version of this newsletter, published around 4pm on today (3/19), stated there had been no deaths in Vermont. My heart goes out to the families of these two persons.)


VDH has expanded its "Stay Home" directive for returning travelers to include essentially all of Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malaysia, China, Iran, South Korea, and anyone returning from a Cruise. I am aware of a few cases in our area where families have been affected by this stay home directive and are following VDH advice, as well as a couple of cases where individuals have been tested for COVID-19 infection, but so far as I know there are no confirmed cases among any of the persons in the larger CCSU community. The Vermont Health Department COVID-19 website has an ever-increasing set of content on all things Coronavirus-related.


https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/2019-novel-coronavirus


What We Have Been Doing

I will address our response to Governor Scott’s original directive, which tasked us to focus on three components to support the State response:

  • Food and special needs services for children;
  • Collaborating with the state to provide childcare options for healthcare workers and others essential to the response; and
  • Systems for ensuring maintenance of education during the initial dismissal; and a continuing education plan if schools are dismissed for an extended period.


Food services: Starting on Wednesday, we began delivering school breakfast and lunch to all students whose families asked us to do this. Each of the seven schools in the SU conducted their own community surveys and developed their own delivery mechanisms in response to the community needs. We have been delivering meals using school buses in some cases, and four-wheel-drive pickups where needed. If anyone reading this newsletter lives in one of the eight communities served by our seven schools, has school-age children in their home, but did not know they could get free breakfast and lunch for your children, please call your school.


Collaborating to provide childcare for essential persons: Starting on Monday (3/23) we will be opening childcare facilities for an ever-growing list of families who have a worker defined as an essential person - basically this means someone whose availability to respond to some facet of the COVID-19 crisis (e.g., think, health care workers, etc.) cannot be limited because they do not have childcare during the day. As I am writing this, we have not completed our surveys of the communities we serve, and so we have not determined the extent of the need. It is likely that we will open one or two centers. This is NOT childcare for any and all - we do not have the capacity nor the responsibility beyond those families with household members directly involved in the COVID-19 response. Those families that opt-in for this care will be told where they can bring their child(ren) for care during 1st-shift hours, starting on Monday morning.


Maintenance of Education and Continuing Education Planning: During the initial closure period (March 18-April 6) we were told to provide maintenance of education, which essentially meant to make sure that student do not lose any of the skills they have developed prior to the closure. If the closure is extended beyond April 6 - something that seems likely to me - we were told to "up our game" by making sure that our educational continuity plans (continuity means something more than maintenance) were in place. Our educational continuity plans are in place, and largely implemented - in other words, we didn't waste time planning for maintenance and went right for continuity. This work involves a combination of electronic instruction, for higher grade levels where the family has internet access at home, and traditional learning "packets" that are and will continue to be delivered to families. If the closure is extended beyond April 6 we will fall under the educational continuity directive and at that point we will be providing increased intervention services for children with special needs.


How Are We Doing This?

Everything that we have accomplished so far, and everything that we will accomplish in the future, is directly due to the commitment of our educational staff in our schools. We have many people doing jobs that are not part of their regular duties, just so that they and we can be sure that our kids are being cared for in these difficult times. I have thanked them all in separate communications over the week, but I want to thank them again in this public forum for the important work they are doing.


Sincerely,

Mark Tucker, M.A.

Superintendent, Caledonia Central SU


Note: This is the sixth in a series of newsletters as we learn about the the impact of Coronavirus in our schools and communities.


Disclaimer: Nothing in this newsletter is meant to substitute for medical advice from your family practitioner