District Update 11-20-20

November 20, 2020

Springfield School District

Dear Springfield School District community,

As we head into another weekend and approach the home stretch to the Thanksgiving Break, I want to give you a quick update on our operations. 

Thanksgiving Break

As I mentioned earlier this week, we plan to follow our school calendar. Barring a change in the track of COVID-19, our schools will be open on Monday, November 30th. We know the importance of schools in our children’s lives, and we will endeavor to maximize the number of students that we can safely have in-person.

Of course, the keyword in the last sentence is “safely.” In order to provide in-person instruction to the youth of Springfield, we are counting on the members of our school community to keep them safe. This starts with following safety protocols and guidance from our state. This means quarantining if you have COVID-like symptoms. It means quarantining if you travel out of the state. It also means obeying the Governor’s order on Thanksgiving. As of November 14th, the Governor’s executive order includes the following:

Multiple Household Social Gatherings Suspended. Because data shows that

between October 1, 2020 and November 13th, 2020 71% of the cases in Vermont associated with an outbreak are associated with a private party or social gathering, attendance at all public and private social, recreational and entertainment gatherings, indoor and outdoor, including large social gatherings incidental to ceremonies, holiday gatherings, parties and celebrations, shall be limited to participation with only members of a single household. For the sake of clarity, nothing in this Order prohibits the gathering of members living in the same residence. Individuals who live alone may gather with no more than one other household. Further, nothing in this order requires anyone to remain in a

dangerous, unhealthy or otherwise unsafe household; likewise, nothing in this

order prevents someone from taking in, housing, sheltering or assisting another individual or individuals to relieve them of a dangerous, unhealthy or otherwise

unsafe household. Finally, limited outdoor fitness activities involving no more

than two individuals from different households are permitted, provided these 

activities can be enjoyed while adhering to physical distancing and mask

requirements, and require no physical contact. This includes, but is not limited to biking, hiking, walking, running and other outdoor fitness activities.

This order clearly bans multi-household celebrations of Thanksgiving. A governor’s order has the force of law, but ultimately, the success of this order will come back to each of us being responsible, ethical, and honest. We need to keep each other safe, and this year that means that Thanksgiving needs to be different. The choices we each make will decide whether or not we are able to keep our schools open.

I ask you to help us make that happen.

Voluntary Staff Testing

Today, over one hundred and thirty employees volunteered to take a COVID-19 test. These SSD employees joined school employees from around the state this week in helping the state of Vermont start to do surveillance testing for the coronavirus. The tests were part of self-administered kits distributed in partnership with the Agency of Education. 

The goal of the program is to offer regular voluntary testing to school staff’s in an effort to track the course of COVID-19. The statewide tests this week will be used to establish a baseline picture. Next a pattern of testing schools each month will begin. Under this part of the plan, a quarter of schools in the state will be tested each week. For Springfield School District, our next voluntary opportunity is tentatively scheduled for December 1st. Then we would likely be tested again in early January.

Snow Days

The utilization of distance learning and the changing of the seasons has led to questions about snow days. With all of our students having laptops soon, I have been asked if this will mean the end of snow days as we know it. For the time being, we will be only slightly adjusting our approach. Most snow day decisions are made in the early hours of the morning. The timing of those decisions makes it very difficult for teachers to adjust at the moment to redesign lessons. Knowing this, I am not comfortable moving in a direction that would change all snow days to remote school days.

The one way that we will change things a little will be in relation to major storms. We only get one or two of these most years. These are times when we may be scheduled to get 1-2 feet of snow. If I am able to see such a storm coming our way, we will make sure that students and teachers bring home the materials that they need to have a remote school day. 

Learning Model Preference Survey

We are still on track to send out this survey before Thanksgiving. It will ask families to rank model choices for each student in their family. These surveys will help us explore how we may redesign our instructional approach.

I hope you have a relaxing weekend.

All the best,

Dr. Zach McLaughlin

Superintendent of Schools