T&G school reopening plans taking shape


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By Bruce Frauman
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Taconic and Green Regional School District Board, which includes Londonderry’s Flood Brook School, heard on Aug. 11 that planning for the opening of its five schools is still a work in progress. Bennington-Rutland Supervisory District Supervisor Randi Lowe, in her first appearance in that role before the TGRSD Board, referred to the three phases of planning, two of which are now complete.

Retired BRSU Superintendent Jacquelyne Wilson wrote on June 24 “a Planning Team composed of 14 parents, teachers and administrators developed a comprehensive list of considerations and needs in six primary areas.”
Those areas are:

  • scheduling and logistics,
  • operations,
  • instruction,
  • physical health,
  • social-emotional health and
  • communication.

During Phase Two, six groups met, in which each addressed a single area of concern. And during Phase Three, individual schools are working with district staff to plan their opening strategy.

Lowe said that she saw her role as the hub of a wheel with many spokes. She has been meeting with teachers, special education staff, parents, students, principals, nurses and others to plan the complex task of opening schools with safety as a prime concern. The more she meets with different stakeholders, she says, the more confident she is that all challenges are being handled with competence.

In response to a question about the 40 percent surge in some states of Covid positive children, Lowe said her understanding from medical experts is that every place the four tenants of maintaining social distance, cleaning, wearing a facial covering and hand washing “are employed, the spread of the virus is not there . . . Our plan is based on insuring that those four areas are the priority of our planning.”

Sunderland Principal Skyler LaBombard said the plan is for students at all schools to remain in the same cohort as they move through their school day. According to Lowe’s written report, students will be broken into two groups, some meeting at school on Mondays and Tuesdays, while others will attend school on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be used for deep cleaning of the buildings and for teachers to plan and connect with individual students as needed. “Younger learners” will be back in school first then, once “protocols and procedures are smoothly operating, we will bring back our middle school students,” Lowe said.

A distance learning option is also available for all families. “Participation will require commitments from families for attendance, participation, work completion, assessments, and other required educational expectations,” according to Lowe.

Additional planning topics covering health protocols, transportation, cleaning protocols, signage, special education, public pre-kindergarten programming, after school programming, and possible exposure response were also detailed. The full report can be read by clicking here.

In an interview on GNAT-TV, Lowe said that for every possible case of Covid-19, the Vermont Department of Health will be consulted for assessment, guidance and contact tracing. Everyone will be moved out of that particular setting, she said, and each school will have a room dedicated to isolating any possible Covid cases.

Extra costs for Covid related supplies will come out of state assistance programs, grants and school and district budgets. And Gov. Phil Scott has directed that whatever plans are put in place, that school reopen after Labor Day weekend in early September.

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