We will keep this page updated for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, we will continue to maintain our correspondence with families and students. This situation is ongoing and we are prepared to remain adaptable and flexible to ensure the safety of our community, and to ensure we continue to do what is best for our families.

The most recent updates will be listed first by date.

You can also find the protocols provided by the VT Agency of Education here.

AUGUST 24, 2020

COVID-19 HANDBOOK

Please note: More complete requirements and protocols can be found on both the CDC and VT Department of Health websites. All information in this handbook comes directly from both of these resources.

We will revisit procedures and protocols frequently, and will update you with any changes. This is a constantly evolving situation as we learn more about what are best practices in schools. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we keep our community members safe and healthy.

Some of this information is provided on the DAILY SCHEDULE for the month of September. This handbook details some specific information regarding proper mask requirements, sanitation, and recommendations.

MASKS: 

All adults will wear masks and/or face shields at all time.  It is mandated by the state that all students wear masks.  We will give students outdoor breaks frequently throughout the day to stretch and to remove their masks while they are outside, while maintaining social distancing. Here are our School requirements, as mandated by the VT Health Department and the CDC:

  • Cloth face masks must be washed daily.
    • Student masks must be labeled clearly with their name or initials;
    • Student masks must be labeled with top/bottom/inside/outside to ensure proper use and to avoid contamination.
  • Gaiters are not considered acceptable face coverings for schools and will not be permissible.
  • Correct mask procedures must be followed, as per the CDC requirements:
    • Wash hands before putting on your mask;
    • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin;
    • Ensure that it fits snugly against the sides of your face, and that it allows for you to breathe easily;
    • Do not put your mask around your neck or up on your forehead when taking a break;
      • When removing your mask, wash your hands first;
      • Remove the ear straps, and do not touch any other part of the mask;
      • Lay the mask with the front facing down, and wash your hands after removing it;
      • Follow the proper procedures for putting it back on.
    • Do not touch your mask, and, if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect immediately.
    • When not in use, masks should be stored in individually labeled containers or paper bags.

MEETING WITH FACULTY / ADMINS:

Typically, we allow parents and guardians to come inside and speak to us with any concerns or questions. Unfortunately, this year we require that all parents and guardians make arrangements beforehand to enter the building at any point in time. If you make an appointment to enter any of our buildings, you must adhere to the following requirements:

  • Wear a proper facial covering as detailed by the VT Department of Health;
  • Comply with our screening procedures (questions and temperature check);
  • Leave immediately upon finishing their meeting.

ARRIVAL / PICK-UP

All parents, guardians, and siblings participating in drop off or pick up must wear facial coverings, as detailed by the VT Department of Health. Instructions for proper mask care can be found above, or on the CDC website.

LATE ARRIVALS

Parent or guardian must call the School. Jonathan will meet the student at the appropriate door for the screening. Parent or guardian must wait for the screening to be complete, and then they may depart.

TRAVELING INTO OTHER STATES: 

Should you travel outside of the state of Vermont, you must comply with any travel restrictions or requirements specified by the VT Health Department.

STAY HOME WHEN SICK

If any student or staff member develops signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19, has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, or has a temperature greater than 100.4F, the student or staff member must be sent home as soon as possible. They will be quarantined downstairs in the cafeteria until it is possible for them to leave. 

If any student or staff member has a fever of 100.4 or above and no specific diagnosis, they may not be on site and must stay home until they have not had a fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications (such as Advil or Tylenol).

CASES OF COVID-19 IN SCHOOL

If COVID-19 is confirmed in a student or a staff member, the School will follow all of the guidelines specified by the VT Department of Health.

BE PREPARED FOR POSSIBLE CLOSURE(S)

Please be prepared for the possibility of the following:

–A pod may be excused for 24-48 hours if the Health Department needs to conduct contact tracing due to possible exposure.

–School may be closed for 24-48 hours if deemed necessary.

–School may shift to virtual or distance learning if deemed necessary or if required by the Health Department or by mandate.

AUGUST 5, 2020

RETURN TO SCHOOL

We are still working on the logistics of the actual day and how students will receive their lessons.  At this point, we are exploring the idea that we will begin with one pod of students with two teachers who work with them, delivering the academic lessons for the day.  As we have some students who will continue with distance learning, we are designing a way for a student who is at home to be included via Zoom.

We will provide you with a detail of the daily class schedule once we have finalized it.  We appreciate your patience as we map this all out.  Our overarching vision is that we will start the year of our small pods with reduced interaction and then slowly expand as we maintain safety.  On Friday, the Director has a meeting with other Vermont Heads of Schools which will feature two public health nurses who are advising on the relaxation of rules for students in grades K-5.  We will continue to consult with the Department of Health and our parents, Dr. Kantrowitz and Dr. Kauffman, for whom we are so grateful.

PreK PROTOCOLS

We will have those out by tomorrow, Thursday.

SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL HEALTH

We are aware of the toll the pandemic is taking on everyone.  Generally, we can all adapt when facing unexpected events that impact our daily lives.  Usually though, in America, these adaptations tend to be short-lived; we solve the problem and move on with what we call our normal life routines.  The ongoing demands of our situation wear on everyone.  Our new routines, built around caution and safety, create a kind of fatigue as we come to realize that these precautions will not be short-lived.  That realization can deflate our optimism that so often characterizes our communities.  

On behalf of our students’ sense of well-being and efficacy, we will incorporate activities and projects that tap their reserves of resiliency and hope. We believe that if students have the opportunity to identify their concerns with their teachers, and know that they are heard, they will then feel empowered to engage in the work of school with focus and inspiration.

Our expectation of excellence can only be brought to fruition by working with you and our students.  Involving themselves thoroughly with their work can be one avenue for reducing student anxiety, but science tells us we must first allow the students to recognize their fears in order to reduce them.  Sigmund Freud likened talking about fears to taking preserved artifacts out into the air, causing them to erode.  We are committed to keeping the students strong and productive.

Several of you have mentioned your concerns about losing the “cross grade” interactions that typify our school community.  We value those connections as well and hope to incorporate them as the weeks progress.  We also want to make sure that those students who are learning from home will feel connected.  

SUPPLY LISTS

We will send out supply lists next week.  We must emphasize the need for students to bring all of their own supplies.  We will not be able to share materials.

July 23, 2020

PODS/HERDS/COHORTS

It is recommended that students be formed into groups with one assigned teacher with whom they will remain during the day.  The idea is that it will reduce or minimize the cross-over exposure. Each time we engage with one person, we are also engaging with their family and any other folks with whom they have been in contact.

DAILY OBSERVATIONS

  • Temperature will be assessed and recorded upon arrival.
  • Masks will be worn indoors at all times; bandanas will not be allowed.
    • Under consideration and with consultation with doctors: the safety and practicality of masks and younger students
  • The required six-foot distance will be observed when inside the building.
  • Students will walk in the same direction when exiting the classroom, moving to another part of the building.
  • Masks can be removed outside under the supervision of their teacher, but the students must maintain a minimum of 3 feet from one another when they are outside.
  • A person with a temperature of 100.4 must return home.

ARRIVAL AND DAYTIME PROCEDURES

  • Students will enter through the side door of the building, sheltered by the covered steps as they await entering the school.
  • The School has removed the lockers and the hallway will function as a portal or gate.  There, student will answer a daily health questionnaire. The administrator will take their temperature with a no-touch thermometer and record the number.
  • Students will then move to their assigned room.  They will place their materials in their bins and prepare for the day.
  • Once students are all in the room they will walk, as a group, in the same direction, to the cafeteria to place their lunches in the refrigerator.  The cohort teacher will supervise that activity.
  • Students must have sufficient materials such as pencils and paper.  Students may not share materials.

As new information is provided daily, we will continue to update and adjust our plans. More information will be released soon.

July 22, 2020

Our truncated year challenged us all in so many ways.  Not only did we face the uneasy knowledge of a new virus that spread quickly and anonymously, but we also witnessed racial violence and societal unrest not felt in America in quite some time.  There were moments when one wondered if the Earth had slipped slightly out of its orbit. 

These challenges can impact groups in different ways:  members can turn ON one another or they can turn TO one another.  We are proud to say that our TSS community chose the latter.  Parents reached out to assist in so many ways, most powerfully in lending support and encouragement. 

The first words of our mission statement says that we are a “community of learners” and these past few months have proven that to be true.  Faced with the sudden loss of our classrooms and the face-to-face rapport with our students, our learning curve was sharp.  Our greatest challenge was in maintaining our relationship of learning with our students.  They faced their own set of losses.  Among the loss of trips and events, they lost predictability, one of the important assurances children need in their development.  But we got through it.  We worked together; we talked together thanks to the new world of Zoom; we made plans together. 

And here we are now:  planning our recovery and our return to the routine of school.  Our commitment to fostering academic excellence and building reflective, compassionate members of the larger world guides us as we move through this challenging time.  We will assist our students in understanding the complexities facing our nation, empowering them to feel confident as they begin to engage with the world beyond the classroom.

We are so grateful to Dr. Annick Kaufman and Dr. Josh Kantrowitz for their continued guidance and responses to our many questions.  Thank you. 

We have mapped out the daily overarching protocols and will now focus on the details of each class and what that will look like.  A healthy and safe return to school will ask all of us to maintain a structure that encourages joyful learning within the circle of conscientious safety.  If the governor decrees that schools will be session, we will comply with that.  Area schools with reduced daily physical attendance have made that choice in order to comply with the requirements of social distancing.  Our classrooms are large enough to accommodate those requirements.  Students in grades three and four will be housed in E. Harrison Brown as the classroom is larger than the one in Luther B. Harris Building.

We are designing distance learning classes for those families who are not comfortable returning at this time.  In the event that we are forced to close again, we are prepared to ensure that the rigor and challenging work activities will be provided.

The observances and protocols for daily attendance are posted on a separate document.  We have also listed issues that are still to be decided. 

As always, your input is welcome.

June 30, 2020

As we review your responses about returning to school, we notice that there are those of you who are not comfortable or are undecided.  First, the Board will discuss this and make a determination, but I believe we will create a hybrid model so that we can serve students both on-site and via the Internet.

In the meantime, I did a walk through with Dr. Kaufman and we are designing protocols for the return of those students whose families are comfortable.  We are early in the game on this and I am sure that we will design more details as we move forward.

First the entrance into E. Harris Brown will move to the side door.  That has a larger covered area for spacing the students. 

We will not use the lockers and hope to remove them entirely. Each student will have a bin which will be located throughout the rooms.  A staging area will be set up in order to take the student’s temperature and complete a brief daily questionnaire. 

Students will have designated rooms; teachers will move from room to room; this reduces the number of times that students must move in the smaller hallways. One point under consideration is with regard to using the art room.  We understand that the kind of art that we do needs an art studio.  Students and teachers will have to thoroughly clean the room at the end of each class period.

A free-standing sanitizer will be located at the entrance and wall-mounted sanitizers in each room will be available and we will encourage students to use them throughout the day.

We will eat lunch in the classrooms.  Recess will be staggered to keep the numbers small and controllable.

In the event that a student becomes ill, we are creating a space with a screen in the far corner of the cafeteria that would be available so that the student can stay isolated until a parent or guardian can pick them up.  As you recall, Mr. Forrest’s workspace is located quite a distance away so he will be safe from contagion but the student will not be unsupervised.

We will move grades three and four back in to E. Harris Brown in order to accommodate the 6 foot rule.

Masks are an issue.  We are happy if students wish to use homemade cotton masks, but these masks must be washed daily, so families might want to purchase several. We should always have a back-ups because things can happen.

It has also been suggested that all teachers get tests as close to the beginning of school as possible; we will make sure that happens.

We thank you for working with us. 

June, 2020

We continue to receive and monitor information daily regarding the containment of the virus once we return to school.  We understand the trepidation that parents and guardians are experiencing about their children returning to group interaction.  The School takes seriously the need to ensure the safety of its students.  We are aware that our duty of care extends to both aspects of safety:  the physical protocols that must be followed and the awareness of the social/emotional impact the pandemic has had, and will have, on our students.

Dr, Annick Kaufman (also parent of Sebastien) is working with us to create the daily questionnaire and documents for reporting data.  We are applying for grants to purchase wall-mounted hand sanitizers and infrared thermometers.  

As of this date, June 24, 2020, the Vermont Agency of Education indicates that schools will be open in the fall.  The model for the return has yet to be determined. The protocols will dictate the models that will be used.  It is possible that school will be a combination of distance-learning and on-site learning.  We ask that all members of the TSS community remain open and flexible as the information is fluid and ever-changing.

We are working over the summer to design a distance learning program that we will be able to access should the school open and then have to close.  We learned a great deal during the spring session and hope to expand on those policies that worked and to alter those that did not.  We thank our parents for their help in assessing our program as the comments will help guide the creation of better methodologies if we need to return to distance learning.