Welcome back! Things were quiet as we arrived Monday morning but have gotten significantly busy since then! Throughout the day Monday and the rest of the week, positive test results along with kids and adults showing symptoms were popping up everywhere. We went through all of our testing supplies by Thursday and were not able to keep up with community notifications, for which I apologize. We did, however, notify close contacts, just not full communities. But please know there are a significant number of cases at OV, Neshobe and OCA. Fewer cases are impacting the schools at Lothrop and Barstow, but we are starting to see increases there as well. Given the Omicron surge, it is fair to say we can expect case numbers to increase. We are doing all we can to keep classes open with Test to Stay for those students who have permission. We have 800 more test kits being delivered today.
This email covers
Updated COVID Guidance from the Department of Health
Booster Shot Info for 12-15 year olds
Test to Stay Registration
MAEC Climate Survey for RNESU Parents
Otter Valley Principal Search Announcement
Superintendent Search Update
School Board Meetings and Board Openings
Reminder: Early Release Day Jan. 21
UPDATED COVID GUIDANCE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
On Dec 29, CDC updated its guidance particularly around the definition of fully vaccinated and quarantine guidelines. Within a day or so, VT updated their guidance. We follow the VT Department of Health guidance in the RNESU schools.
Click on the links below to learn what you now need to do if positive or a close contact:
To summarize, to be considered fully vaccinated if you are a close contact, you now need to have a booster shot OR be vaccinated with two shots of Pfizer or Moderna within 6 months or one shot of Johnson & Johnson within 2 months. Our students are only eligible for Pfizer. Boosters were only recently available to kids 16 and above; 12-15 year olds were approved for boosters as of this week. Thus, the majority of our students will need to quarantine if considered a close contact, unless their vaccination is within 6 months or they have the booster.
Quarantines for close contacts are shorter, however. 5 days is now recommended and you can leave quarantine if you have no symptoms or your symptoms are improving, including no fever for at least 24 hours unmedicated and you wear a mask for another 5 days. It is also recommended that you test again no earlier than day 4. This is a recommendation and not a requirement.
Quarantine for positive cases has also been updated and can be found at this link. https://tinyurl.com/2p9n78t2
We will continue to contact parents of students who are close contacts. We do anticipate there are more changes coming and we will need to pivot quickly as they do. Please be patient with our nurses and principals as they call you and check out the department resources for yourself.
BOOSTER SHOT INFORMATION FOR AGES 12-15 YEAR OLDS
The state's registration system now has appointments available for parents/caregivers to register their children aged 12-15 for a booster vaccination appointment. Per the CDC earlier this month, individuals are now eligible for a booster five months after completing their initial Pfizer vaccine series. See: Health Department FAQ - Am I eligible for a booster shot or an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?d
TEST TO STAY REGISTRATION
Schools are now prepared to offer Test to Stay as an option if we have capacity to meet need when a positive contact is identified in a school. This means that if a student is identified as a close contact, is unvaccinated and has no symptoms, instead of quarantining they may be able to take a rapid antigen test at school every morning for seven days with parental consent and remain in school as long as results are negative! This will help us to reduce the number of times a student must learn remotely during a quarantine.
In order to access this program, we need to have no more than 2-3 classes affected at one time (we are limited in capacity in how many we can test at once) AND must have parental consent for the test AND have parental agreement to either stay with their child when tested or return to pick them up if their test is positive.
In order to give parental consent for this program, please fill out this form. We cannot use the tests on your child without it and your child will need to quarantine. If you wish to participate, please give consent on BOTH forms:
School Based Consent
Please note: we can only use antigen tests for unvaccinated asymptomatic children and adults who were identified as close contacts. It will not be used on vaccinated people or those who have had COVID in the past few months, as it is not as effective and we do not have an unlimited supply. Anyone with symptoms, vaccinated or not, needs to stay home and take a PCR test.
MAEC CLIMATE SURVEY FOR RNESU PARENTS (Closes Jan. 31)
All RNESU Parents are invited and encouraged to complete the following anonymous Climate Survey for RNESU parents: https://maec.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ePvo4mWGmlCOlxk
This Climate Survey is part of a study being conducted by the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium (MAEC) to understand how RNESU can advance equity across our district, including feelings and experiences of safety, belonging, and equitable access to high-quality instruction and support services. As you are the backbone of our schools, your feedback will be so critical in informing this study.
If you have questions about the survey or the MAEC study, don't hesitate to contact Susannah White, Equity & Engagement Coach, firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you for your time and care in completing this important survey.
OTTER VALLEY PRINCIPAL SEARCH ANNOUNCEMENT
I am pleased to announce the Otter Valley School Board appointed Michael Ruppel to be the next OVUHS principal. Michael will begin his position on July 1, 2022. Michael is currently the assistant principal at Springfield High School, in Springfield , VT. He is a Rowland Fellow with a strong background in Proficiency Based Learning and has experience helping schools to move in this direction, as OV has been doing for a few years. We are excited to welcome Michael and will next begin a search for an associate principal, as Geoff Lawrence is also retiring this June.
SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH UPDATE
RNESU has begun the search for a new superintendent as I plan to retire this June. A community forum was held on Jan 6 to help inform the board of what the community would like to see in the next superintendent. RNESU has a web page to keep the community informed about the search process. You can follow it here. https://www.rnesu.org/page/superintendent-search
Veggie Van Go will take place at OVUHS on Monday Jan 17 from 10-11am, where the Vermont Foodbank will distribute free fruits and veggies to all who stop by.. All families of school children and staff are welcome!! This free monthly produce distribution (3rd Monday of each month) event is open to all students, families, and staff affiliated with all Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union Schools: Barstow Memorial, Lothrop Elementary, Neshobe Elementary, Otter Creek Academy at Leicester, Sudbury and Whiting., & Otter Valley Middle and High School. There are no eligibility requirements and no reservations needed.
School Board Meetings and Board Openings
In August, Board meetings returned to in-person meetings with a zoom option for those who wish to attend virtually. Meeting information can be found on the district calendar or on the district website, www.rnesu.org,
Current School Board meetings are largely focused on developing the budget for next school year. Attend or watch on Peg TV!
OVUU meets for a board candidate orientation on Jan 12 at OVUHS library at 5pm followed by a board meeting to approve the budget at 6pm. Meetings are in person and on line.
BUU Board meets Jan 12 at 5 pm for a board candidate orientation at the Chittenden Library in Barstow School followed by a board meeting at 6 pm. Meetings are in person and online
RNESU Board meets Jan. 19, 5 pm at Lothrop School and online
Interested in serving on a school board? Go to the school board page on rnesu.org to learn what seats are open and to get a petition. Petitions are due to town clerks by Jan. 26, 2022.
I wish for you a happy and healthy 2022!
Jeanné Collins, Superintendent of RNESU
School Safety Hotline # (844) 723-3488 or www.SAFE4VT.org or text to 274637, type in keyword SAFE4VT and then your tip