April 8, 2020

1:00 pm

Mill River Schools Community,

You may note that it has been a few days since you last received an update from me. This is primarily because we are beginning to settle into more of a routine in terms of school operations and there is less to update you about. Additionally, it is important to me that we not overwhelm you with more information than is useful. Individual schools and teachers are communicating directly with you more and more now. I want to honor that, as well as your time.

I also want to recognize the fact that what everyone is doing right now is very hard. Families are supporting children in their learning while trying to maintain households. Teachers and other district staff are trying to do their full-time jobs while maintaining their own households. Many of us know people who have become sick or have become sick ourselves, and others have lost people during this crisis, either due to COVID-19 or other reasons. I want everyone receiving this email to know that as a school district we do understand how hard today’s world is for absolutely everyone to manage.

We will do the absolute best we can to support our students and your children through the conclusion of this school year. All of the energy that we dedicated to building and starting a system of remote learning and providing meals for kids will now be shifting to a mode where we are maintaining, tweaking, revising, or redesigning things that aren’t working. For that shift to be successful, please make sure that you are reaching out to teachers and building principals to share your difficulties or concerns so that we can try to help remedy those things. We are committed to that, and your information is what helps us to improve in what we are delivering for your children. We also appreciate your patience throughout this process.

We will soon be shifting to another phase of thinking and planning at the district level that focuses on how we appropriately bridge the end of this school year and the start of next school year in light of the challenges that everyone is facing. We know there will be gaps to fill, discrepancies to remedy, and inequities to right. We’ll be developing turnkey systems to utilize in the future in the event that something like this pandemic occurs again. We will also be doing everything we can to help every single student by getting them what they need, when they need it, to the best of our ability.

There are just a few reminders for you today:

1. Next week is April Break. There will not be educational services for students next week.

2. Meals will continue to be provided during April Break on the same Monday/Thursday schedule that we currently utilize. 7:00am-5:00pm pickup at the MRUUSD Office Door: 2321 Middle Rd, N. Clarendon, 05759.

3. Before the week is over I expect to have firm date for the last day of school. I will share that with you as soon as I have it ready to publish.

As always, thank you, and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out.

Dave


April 2, 2020

12:30 pm

Mill River Schools Community,

Today’s update is brief and includes some reminders from yesterday, along with a correction. It also includes a letter from our School Board to the Parent Community.

New today: Please take a moment to read this School Board Letter to the Community . We are incredibly grateful for the service and support of our volunteer School Board Members. They represent you and our community very well.

Shared yesterday: April Break will be taking place as scheduled, during the week of April 13 – April 17. During this week, there will be no educational services provided for students. 

Shared yesterday: Meals Pickup will continue to be provided through the end of the school year on Mondays and Thursdays at the District Offices, located at MRUHS from 7:00am – 5:00pm.

Shared yesterday, with a date typo corrected: Meals Pickup will still occur during the April Break. Families can plan to pick up meals on April 13th and April 16th, as if it were a “normal” week of school.

Shared yesterday: Student attendance – we are asking your family to email your school’s office staff on any day that your child will not be available to engage in learning.

Contacts for the purpose of informing us about student attendance are:

MRU – cciejko@millriverschools.org

CES – kgibbs@millriverschools.org

SMS – smscongdon@millriverschools.org

TMS – cbattease@millriverschools.org

WES – estgermain@millriverschools.org

Any questions? Please do not hesitate to reach out.

Regards,

Dave


April 1, 2020

1:30 pm

Mill River Schools Community,

This update contains important information for you related to the rest of the school year. Please read carefully.

April Break will be taking place as scheduled, during the week of April 13 – April 17. During this week, there will be no educational services provided for students. 

Meals Pickup will continue to be provided through the end of the school year on Mondays and Thursdays at the District Offices, located at MRUHS from 7:00am – 5:00pm.

Meals Pickup will still occur during the April Break. Families can plan to pick up meals on April 14 and April 16, as if it were a “normal” week of school.

Student attendance is something that we need to begin tracking as a district, now that we know how the school year will end. We are asking your family to email your school’s office staff on any day that your child will not be available to engage in learning. This data is important for us to be able to count a day as an official day of school attendance in order to meet state requirements. 

Put another way, whenever there is a circumstance where your child cannot engage in school activities on a regularly-scheduled day of school, please email the school to inform the office staff.

Contacts for the purpose of informing us about student attendance are:

MRU – cciejko@millriverschools.org

CES – kgibbs@millriverschools.org

SMS – smscongdon@millriverschools.org

TMS – cbattease@millriverschools.org

WES – estgermain@millriverschools.org

The last day of school for students will likely be finalized within the next week. When I have that information, I will let families know immediately.

I do believe it is safe for families to plan that the absolute last day of student engagement with school for this year will be Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

That date may move forward a day or two depending on a few factors. Please stay tuned for more information coming soon.

A list of local community resources has been compiled by the Rutland County State’s Attorney’s Office. The list is helpful, and we have posted it on our website at http://millriverschools.org . It is also linked here for your easy access:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MkaffhmyXA6BNkaFQQf1azzgPAbJ759vovehfRVg1pk/edit?usp=sharing

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have.

Regards,

Dave


March 30, 2020

1:30 pm

Mill River Schools Community

Today’s update is relatively brief, but has some important details for you. 

April Break

We are continuing with April Break as scheduled. There will be no educational services provided for students during the week of April 13-17. Please plan accordingly.

Meals During April Break

We ARE GOING TO CONTINUE providing meals for children 18 and under during that April Break week according to the Monday/Thursday distribution schedule we began this week. 

Meals can be picked up at our district offices from 7am – 5pm on Mondays and Thursdays.

The district offices are located at the north end of Mill River Union High School. Pull into the lot at the north end of the building and you will see signs directing you. 

MRUHS/MRUUSD District Office Address:

2321 Middle Rd., North Clarendon VT 05759

Talking to Your Children About COVID-19

The information below may also be of interest or value to you. Please give it a read.

If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Regards,

Dave

Talking to your Children About COVID-19

The following are some general guidelines when talking to children about COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As stated by the CDC “Parents, family members, school staff, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety and fear”.

General Principles for Talking to Children

Remain calm and reassuring.

  • Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.

Make yourself available to listen and talk.

  • Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.

Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.

  • Remember that viruses can make anyone sick. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.

Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.

  • Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.

Provide information that is honest and accurate.

  • Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
  • Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.

Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.

  • Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick.
  • Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
  • Get children into a hand washing habit.
    • Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing, going to the bathroom, and before eating or preparing food (teach them to sing or hum two rounds of “Happy Birthday”).
    • If soap and water are not available, teach them to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol.

Facts About COVID-19 for Discussions with Children

Try to keep information simple and remind them that health and school officials are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy.

What is COVID-19?

  • COVID-19 is the short name for “coronavirus disease 2019”. It is a new virus. Doctors and scientists are still learning about it.
  • Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick. Scientists and doctors think that most people will be ok, especially kids, but some people might get pretty sick.
  • Doctors and health experts are working hard to help people stay healthy.

What can I do so that I don’t get COVID-19?

  • You can practice healthy habits at home, school, and play to help protest against the spread of COVID-19:
    • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw it in the trash right away.
    • Keep your hands out of your mouth, nose, and eyes. This will help keep germs out of your body.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Follow these five steps.
    • Wet hands, Lather (make bubbles), Scrub (rub together), Rinse and Dry. Again, you can sing or hum the “Happy Birthday”song twice.
    • If you don’t have soap and water, have an adult help you use a special hand cleaner.
    • Keep things clean. Older children can help adults at home and school clean the things we touch the most, such as: desks, doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls (adults can find more information about cleaning and disinfecting at: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html
  • If you feel sick, stay home. Just like you don’t want to get other people’s germs in your body, other people don’t want to get your germs either.

What happens if you get sick with COVID-19?

  • COVID-19 can look different in different people. For many people, being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. People can get a fever, cough, or have a hard time taking deep breaths. Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems. From what doctors have seen so far, most children don’t seem to get very sick. While a lot of adults get sick, most adults get better.
  • If you do get sick, it doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. People can get sick from all kinds of germs. What’s important to remember is that if you do get sick, the adults at home and school will help get you any help that you need.
  • If you suspect your child may have COVID-19, call the healthcare facility to let them know before you bring your child in to see them. 

March 27, 2020

2:10pm

Mill River Schools Community,

Governor Scott has announced that schools are closed to student attendance for the rest of the school year. Schools are expected to continue providing for educational services and related support for all students remotely, in order to ensure that learning and academic progress is achieved comparable to as if schools remained open. 

Fortunately, we have been preparing for this exact situation all along. Each decision we’ve made in the past few weeks has been with an eye toward this circumstance and creating a sustainable system that will effectively get us to the finish line of this school year while balancing the needs of students, families and staff. We have already had to tweak a number of things along the way, and are committed to remedying any difficulties that emerge to the best of our ability. 

Our teachers, support staff and administrators are all engaged in new efforts to use these unique circumstances to assist our students and help the district move forward and prepare for both the conclusion of this school year and the start of next school year. There is a great deal of work to be done by all of our employees over the coming months, and I’m grateful to have a committed group of staff members engaging in that work. There are also a number of members of our community who have volunteered to assist us in various areas. You know who you are, and we know who you are, and we’re ready to connect when the time is right!

In some ways, it is good that we now know that the end of the year will look similar to what we are currently undertaking. That removes one unknown variable from our calculations. There are some other things we know the answers to at this time, and many things that we don’t yet know and will need to react to when they are decided. For example:

  • Will our seniors graduate? Absolutely. We will get them to the finish line.
  • Will there be a graduation ceremony? We have no idea. At this time, I would suggest that a graduation that looks like what we are all used to is doubtful. We will do the absolute best we can for our seniors and their families.
  • What about other end-of-senior-year activities? Mr. Weideman and his team are working right now on figuring out how to best support and work with our seniors – perhaps even after they have graduated – to provide them with memorable experiences that they deserve.
  • Will meals continue to be available through the end of the school year? Yes. More on that below.
  • Will there be an April Break? Currently, yes. We do project that educational services will not be provided during the 4/13-4/17 timeframe.
  • Will meals be provided during that April Break? At this time we do not know. As soon as there is information on that you will be informed.
  • What about younger children? Will they progress to the next grade level at the end of the year? Absolutely. Our remote learning system is designed to get our students to where they need to be at the end of the school year.
  • Will there be summer camps and programs offered by the district? At this point in time, we have no idea. Public health dynamics will play a major role in that decision. We are guessing that we might know more by early May.
  • Has a decision been made about spring sports at Mill River? The Vermont Principals Association makes that decision. At this point they have not landed on a position. We may know more about that next week. Realistically, I would not be surprised if there are no spring sports (at least as we have previously experienced them), as it would be very difficult to create that experience while protecting students, coaches and spectators from COVID-19.

Meals Program Shifts – currently scheduled to continue through the end of the school year. April Break meals are TBD.

If these shifts create a hardship situation for your family, where you have no way at all to access meals (ex: no vehicle or a work/family situation that prohibits you from getting to the pick up location between 7am-5pm), please contact me directly to discuss ways we can support you.

Changes Effective Monday 3/30/2020

1. Starting on Monday 3/30/2020, meals will no longer be delivered on school buses. 

2. All meals will be available for pick-up at the district offices from 7:00 am – 5:00 pm. We will be developing a curbside-type pick up and limiting interactions and proximity in order to restrict any potential spread of COVID-19.

3. Meal pick-ups will now occur only two days per week: 

  • Monday (food provided for Mon, Tues, and Wed)
  • Thursday (food provided for Thur and Fri).
  • REMEMBER – meals are able to be picked up for ALL children 18 and under in our community. The meals are free of charge.

A PHONE CALL WILL GO OUT TO ALL FAMILIES ON FRIDAY EVENING WITH THIS INFORMATION SO THAT FAMILIES CAN PREPARE FOR THE PICK-UP CHANGES THAT ARE OCCURRING ON MONDAY.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions.

Gratefully,

Dave


March 26, 2020

2:50 pm

Mill River Schools Community,

Today’s update is brief, and consists of a reminder about shifts to meal access starting next week.

If these shifts create a hardship situation for your family, where you have no way at all to access meals (ex: no vehicle or a work/family situation that prohibits you from getting to the pick up location between 7am-5pm), please contact me directly to discuss ways we can support you.

Meal Preparation and Delivery Changes Effective Monday 3/30/2020

1. Meals will continue to be prepared and distributed according to the current bus delivery schedule through this Friday 3/27/2020. Meal pick-up at the district offices will close at 5:00 pm this Friday, rather than at 6:00 pm.

2. Starting next week on Monday 3/30/2020, meals will no longer be delivered on school buses. 

3. All meals will be available for pick-up at the district offices from 7:00 am – 5:00 pm. We will be developing a curbside-type pick up and limiting interactions and proximity in order to restrict any potential spread of COVID-19.

4. Meal pick-ups will now occur only two days per week: 

  • Monday (food provided for Mon, Tues, and Wed)
  • Thursday (food provided for Thur and Fri).
  • REMEMBER – meals are able to be picked up for ALL children 18 and under in our community. The meals are free of charge.

THIS INFORMATION REGARDING MEALS WILL BE RE-SENT VIA EMAIL ON FRIDAY, AND A PHONE CALL WILL GO OUT TO ALL FAMILIES ON FRIDAY EVENING WITH THIS INFORMATION SO THAT FAMILIES CAN PREPARE FOR THE PICK-UP CHANGES THAT ARE OCCURRING ON MONDAY.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.

Sincerely,

Dave


March 25, 2020

5:10 pm

Mill River Schools Community,

This important message is about the safety and health of you, your loved ones, and our district employees.

Effective at 5:00 pm today, Governor Scott has issued a Stay at Home – Stay Safe order. As a district we must take actions to ensure that we can accomplish what what we need to for our students AND keep our employees as safe as possible. There are people in our immediate community who are coming into contact with COVID-19, and many more who may have been exposed and do not know or are entering self-isolation. We need to maintain our ability to operate our systems to feed and educate children, and the best way for us to do that is to keep people away from each other, or at the very least maintain safe social distancing and establish control of areas that are being accessed by people.

We are preparing for a longer term situation where education is being delivered remotely and meals are still being provided for students. We do not yet know what the end of the school year will look like for students and staff, but we need to prepare for the long haul under our current circumstances. As a result, we must make shifts now in order to ensure that our workforce remains healthy and available for work, so that we can better serve the needs of our students for the long term.

The following shifts to our operations will begin as outlined below.


Meal Preparation and Delivery

1. Meals will continue to be prepared and distributed according to the current schedule through this Friday 3/27/2020. Meal pick-up at the district offices will close at 5:00 pm this Friday, rather than at 6:00 pm.

2. Starting next week on Monday 3/30/2020, meals will no longer be delivered on school buses. 

3. All meals will be available for pick-up at the district offices from 7:00 am – 5:00 pm. We will be developing a curbside-type pick up and limiting interactions and proximity in order to restrict any potential spread of COVID-19.

4. Meal pick-ups will now occur only two days per week: 

  • Monday (food provided for Mon, Tues, and Wed)
  • Thursday (food provided for Thur and Fri).
  • REMEMBER – meals are able to be picked up for ALL children 18 and under in our community. The meals are free of charge.

THIS INFORMATION REGARDING MEALS WILL BE RE-SENT VIA EMAIL ON THURSDAY AND FRIDAY.

ADDITIONALLY, A PHONE CALL WILL GO OUT TO ALL FAMILIES ON FRIDAY EVENING WITH THIS INFORMATION SO THAT FAMILIES CAN PREPARE FOR THE PICK-UP CHANGES THAT ARE OCCURRING ON MONDAY.

Building Access

While this should not significantly affect families, we are implementing more restrictions on building access for employees in order to control interactions and potential virus spread. The primary impact on families will likely be seen in the type of work that is being sent home for students. Teachers may be preparing materials that can be worked on for a longer term of time and will be limiting distribution of paper materials when possible. We are very committed to meeting the needs of our students without internet access, however, and will not compromise student learning in any way. 

It is reasonable for you to expect that our school buildings will not be accessible to families during this restrictive closure period, which will begin on Monday 3/30/2020.

Email will be the best way to contact school personnel, as most all will be working remotely. Remember, first initial last name@millriverschools.org  (ex: dyounce@millriverschools.org)

Thank you as always for your support for our work. If you have questions, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Dave


March 24, 2020

4:30 pm

Mill River Schools Community,

Today’s update is very brief, but has some important information.

1. I’ve already heard reports of people at our food delivery sites taking social distancing very seriously. Thank you for the attention to that.

2. We are planning to shift our food delivery schedule next week in order to better serve our community. We still plan to deliver meals for children 18 and under and to have them available for pickup at the district offices.

I will communicate all necessary detail about any changes once they become finalized, For the rest of this week everything will continue as is.

We are planning to shift the delivery model to the following, starting next week:

Monday – meals will be available for Mon, Tues, and Wed

Thursday – meals will be available for Thur and Fri

We hope that this shift will grant families more flexibility in their planning and require less trips out of the house for all involved.

I will communicate all necessary detail about any changes once they become finalized, For the rest of this week everything will continue as is.

Please be sure to reach out with any questions you may have.

Best Regards,

Dave


3/23/2020

2:15 pm

MRUUSD Community Members,

MRUUSD operations continue in full force. Meals are being served, buildings are being cared for and cleaned, and our employees are engaged in productive work from all kinds of different locations in order to ensure that students are still learning. I have virtual meetings with all of our principals scheduled throughout the week and am excited to hear from them about the creative and effective ways that our educators are interacting with our students!

I had the pleasure of meeting with the Wallingford Rotary this morning (virtually of course) to talk about the work that has been going on in our district over the past week. It was an enjoyable opportunity to explain what we have been up to and answer questions from the community. The Rotary Club is a wonderful organization, and I’m pleased that the efforts of the MRUUSD are so supported by them.

We are analyzing our meal prep and delivery systems and considering possibly shifting to fewer deliveries during the week with more meals delivered (ex: 2-3 delivery days with multiple days worth of meals, compared to 5 days currently with one day worth of meals). If we decide to shift that timing, we will fully inform the community in advance in order to allow time for all to plan appropriately. For the time being, everything remains the same with our meal deliveries.

We all know that cases of COVID-19 will in fact be coming to our community, and soon. When that occurs, there are a number of questions that people will ask. Below is a FAQ that addresses many of them. 

When COVID-19 is Confirmed in our Community: 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will the school district inform us about who specifically is infected?

A: We must respect the privacy of those in our community. We cannot and will not be releasing anyone’s names or other identifiers.

Q: Will you provide any details about how much interaction an infected person may have had with staff and students?

A: The Department of Health has recently changed its strategy due to increasing community spread. We have been made aware that if any notification is required, it will come directly from the Department of Health, as this would be a public health issue. We advise that if you or your child become symptomatic, or if you have health-related questions, you contact your physician or the Department of Health.

Q: Would the families of children or staff members who were in direct contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case be notified?

A: Any notification would come from the Department of Health. We advise that if you or your child were to become symptomatic, or if you ever have health-related questions, you should contact your physician or the Department of Health.

Q: What type of disinfecting is happening in the schools, even during this closure period?

A: Our custodial team is consistently disinfecting every surface in every building. If teachers have been in their classrooms, the rooms have been disinfected after every use. Our buildings will be clean and safe when we do reopen.

Q: What can I do for my children?

A: The best thing to do is to keep your children home. Please do not send them out in groups. Please have them practice social distancing (separating yourself from other people by 6 feet) and frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Q: What can school district staff do?

A: It is imperative that we demonstrate social distancing when we do need to be in school buildings (separating yourself from other people by 6 feet) and frequent hand washing. PLEASE do not enter buildings if you are exhibiting ANY symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath) OR if you have come in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. 

Finally, this article that I came across is an interesting, quick read. For those of us who grew up with TV as the primary media diversion that our parents were afraid would eventually ruin us, screen time is something that we’ve always been attentive to, especially with our own children and students. This article takes a slightly different angle based on today’s circumstances. 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2020/03/18/coronavirus-things-to-do-online-school-closings-screen-time/2870490001/

Take care of yourselves,

Dave


March 20, 2020

Mill River Schools Community,

This update is intended to share current information on the following:

  • Meal Delivery and Pickup
  • Families of students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) / i.e. Special Education
  • Communication from Schools re: Remote/Distance Learning

Our meal delivery system continues to operate and we are consistently refining the overall process. There are a few important details for families to be aware of with regard to meal delivery.

  1. Meals are FREE OF CHARGE for all children 18 and under who live in our school district.
  2. Because of the regulations that govern this process, we are only able to issue meals to students at the bus drop-off points that are enrolled in one of our MRUUSD schools.
  3. For any students in our district that attend schools outside of the district, we are able to provide those meals free of charge, but we have to ask you to pick them up at our district offices at MRU. We realize that this is much less convenient, but we do not have a choice in that process due to the regulations.
  4. Here is the link to the meal delivery routes with locations and times.  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qPl7W0WI_qrfMH3l48HEazL3Kpea-GUBZRXoLQdLMNM/edit

If your child receives special education services under an IEP, you will receive or may have already received an email message today from our Director of Student Services, Coral Stone. If you have any questions about that email, please contact Coral at cstone@millriverschools.org 

Our remote/distance learning systems are ready to run for Monday of next week. Many of you may have already received contact from your child’s school or teachers with information. We are excited to begin this process with you and your families, but are also very sensitive to the fact that this is new for everyone.

As families, you are adapting to these changes and navigating shifts with your own work and your children’s needs. We do not want to overwhelm you with our attempts to stay connected, and do understand that the pace and volume of information received might be tough to manage. Throughout the course of this process if you find that you are receiving too much or too little information for you to feel like you are on top of things at home, please let us know. Share with your child’s teacher via email whether or not you are able to make sense of things. Connect with your principal to share your perspective. We are committed to making the best of these circumstances, and good information from you about what is working or not working is important to us doing this well.

I do hope that you have a safe and healthy start to your weekend. Thanks for everything you are doing as a community as we tackle these times together.

One very important follow-up piece of guidance for our parent community.

As we all know, social distancing is one of the best tactics we can employ right now. Our meal delivery teams are working hard to manage any risk of spread of illness by maintaining safe social distancing. 

If you are present at one of our pick up sites in the mornings, please keep in mind that attending to those distancing requirements is important for everyone. If you have children with you it is likely best to leave them in your vehicle, or make sure to keep them away from others. We know that it is very difficult in a social setting for children to not be near and engaging with their friends and classmates, but we are all working hard to avoid those types of interactions right now in order to do our part to control the spread of illness.

Thank you for any attention you can give to this request.

Dave


March 19, 2020, 1:00 pm

Mill River Schools Community,

This update is intended to address the following:

  • Meal delivery
  • Playground access
  • Social Distancing
  • Educational Efforts

Our meal delivery efforts began this morning as 1800 meals left the district offices at 7:10 am for pickups at various location in the community and the eventual open pickup at our district offices at MRU. It is important for me to be clear that these meals are at no cost to families, and any child 18 or under is eligible to receive a meal. Children do not need to be with a parent when the meals are picked up. Our food service, bus and custodial staff did a fantastic job today with this effort, and we are engaging even more of our support staff in the effort next week. Thanks to all who have made that effort a success!

Our playgrounds have not been closed to the public officially, but it is important for families to be aware that playground surfaces are not supervised and not cleaned. We strongly advise that families avoid playground spaces while the COVID-19 situation is going on, and will be posting signs indicating that we encourage caution and that the playgrounds are not cleaned. Please consider this carefully.

Social Distancing, as defined by the CDC (as it applies to COVID-19) is “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distances of approximately 6 feet from other people when possible”. It is imperative that we, as a community, follow guidelines that have been recommended by both the CDC and the Vermont Department of Health. The guidelines are constantly changing as far as group settings, but we, as a community, need to protect ourselves and others. Here are some guidelines:

  • Maintain social distancing at all times. Keep a distance of approximately 6 feet from both healthy and sick individuals. Currently, in the MRUUSD we are limiting group meetings to no more than 10 people. We encourage you to not have playdates and not have children/teenagers hanging out in groups/group settings. School has been closed in order to limit exposure to each individual, but if community-based actions are working against that effort, the closure of our schools and other spaces will have been a wasted effort. We don’t want that to happen.
  • Maintain frequent hand washing with soap and water. Wash hands before and after meals, after making contact with surfaces, after using the restroom, and after coughing or sneezing.
  • Finally, if you are sick, please isolate yourself from your family and call your primary care provider.

As you know, we are approaching our target date of next Monday 3/23/2020 for remote/distance educational services to begin. You should be hearing from your school principals and children’s teachers very soon about expectations and efforts as we get that work underway. It is important for us to acknowledge that this creates an entirely new construct for families to navigate with learning occurring at home, but we are here to facilitate and assist with that. We all know there will be bumps in that road early on, but we are committed to doing it as well as possible. Thanks for being our partners as we work to serve your children as best as we can.

As always, please feel free to send any questions my way. I’ll get back to you quickly or redirect them to a person who can.

Best Regards,

Dave


3/18/2020

9:15am

Mill River Schools Community,

This morning update is intended to provide you with information about our breakfast/lunch delivery and provide an update on special education. If an afternoon update is timely or appropriate I will send something your way. If not, this may be our only community update for today.

Thanks,

Dave

Breakfast/Lunch Meals

Starting tomorrow, we will begin our breakfast and lunch meal service. Our food service personnel will be preparing 1800 meals (900 breakfasts/900 lunches) daily for the foreseeable future, which we will be sending out into the community for our children.

Any child aged 18 or under in the Mill River Schools Community is eligible to receive these meals.

We will be delivering meals to stops at the locations and times at the link below. The link is live, so any updates to the schedule will be reflected whenever you check the link. When meals are delivered, we are required to document the number of meals and names of who they are destined for. Our employees will be doing their best to make that process as smooth and seamless as possible, and we are committed to working through the glitches as they arise.

After the delivery runs are completed, we will have the meals that have not been picked up available for families to pick up at our school district offices from 9:00 am through 6:00 pm. The district offices are located at MRUHS. Please park in the north parking lot of the school and come to the door with the blue sign for the district offices. We will have people there to assist you.

Link to schedule for bus delivery of meals:

Food Drop Off Schedule

This schedule is also available on our website.

Special Education Services

One of our state’s top priorities during our school closure is to ensure the delivery of special education services to eligible students with disabilities.  This is very important work that is being tackled head-on by multiple agencies and professionals spanning local, state, and federal levels. Here in the MRUUSD, we remain fully invested in meeting this goal in order to serve our students well.

We are here to assure you as parents/guardians that we are working round-the-clock to accomplish this objective and are pleased to report that plans are coming together steadily. We are on track or in some cases even ahead of our predicted schedule with laying the necessary groundwork that must be laid.

You can expect to receive further details and updates from our Director of Student Services, Coral Stone, regarding special education service delivery pending some additional federal and state guidance that is expected to arrive very soon. Please feel free to email Coral with any questions at: cstone@millriverschools.org


March 17, 2020

Mill River Schools Community,

This email is intended to update you on our progress in planning for meals, remote/distance learning, and general activities in the district at this time.

1. We remain on schedule for meal delivery for all students to begin on Thursday 3/19/2020. Delivery will occur through two means: buses will follow routes that we will develop where families can pick up meals for all children aged 18 and under. We also will have a pick-up option at the district office from 9:00-6:00 each day once delivery begins. I will have more details for you about the bus drop locations in my email tomorrow.

2. Plans continue to emerge as we develop our remote/distance learning plan. We are still on track for a rollout of that on Monday 3/23/2020. We can be assured that there will be glitches at first, but our staff members are working very hard over the coming days to put good plans and infrastructure in place. You can expect more communication from teachers and principals very soon on this process.

3. I will continue communicating with you daily through this week and slightly less next week. You can expect to begin hearing more details about school-based efforts directly from principals soon, so please be on the lookout for that communication. Once our meals and distance learning system settle in you will begin to hear regularly from principals and teachers, and much less regularly from me.

Finally, it has been heartwarming to receive some of the very positive feedback that has been sent my way to be shared with our staff as we are building these systems and preparing for our unknown future. Thank you to those of you who have expressed that kindness. It has been shared with the people who deserve to hear it. I’m grateful for the support of our community – it is one of the things that makes our district a special place for people to live, work, and go to school.

If you have any questions at all please send them my way. 

Best Regards,

Dave


March 16, 2020

Mill River Schools Community,

I’d like to thank you for your understanding and support as we have closed schools to students and are preparing to deliver meals and remote learning options. I understand the chaos and anxiety that has been thrust into many of our lives at this unprecedented time. We are committed to creating as much structure and support for our students and community as we can, as quickly as possible, but with the attention to detail that is required to do that well.

The following are updates on specific components of our work that I addressed in my message to you yesterday:

  • We are still on track to begin our planned meal delivery routine on Thursday 3/19/2020. Our intention is tor provide meals to serve every student in the district in the early stages, knowing that actual usage will give us a good read on the number of meals actually needed. Any unused meals will be responsibly redistributed. We plan to use our school buses and district staff to deliver meals (breakfast and lunch) to specific stop locations at specific times that will be shared with you most likely on Wednesday. We also will have a pickup option available at MRU. More details will be coming soon.
  • Our teacher’s efforts throughout this week are focused on preparing for remote learning options for students and putting the professional development in place to support that work. Some options will be high tech and some will be low tech, depending on the variables at play with teachers, students, and home connectivity. We know that developing an entirely new delivery system for learning will have its glitches early on, but we are committed to working hard to remedy any issues that emerge and generating the infrastructure to ensure solid communication between a student’s home and teachers. We will coordinate managed opportunities for materials to be delivered (with meals) or picked up (as needed) related to remote learning work, In short, we will figure things out, will stay connected with you as we do so, and appreciate your patience and understanding.

I will send another email with more updated information tomorrow, likely in the late afternoon.

If you have any questions in the meantime please feel free to send them my way.

Best Regards,

Dave Younce

MRUUSD Superintendent of Schools


March 15, 2020

5:40 pm

Mill River Schools Community,

We currently find ourselves in a rapidly changing, uncharted situation. We are grateful for the guidance and support that we have received from the Vermont Department of Health, the Vermont Agency of Education, and the Governor’s Office.

On March 15 at 3:20 p.m., Governor Scott announced that statewide school closure will occur no later than Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The purpose of this message is to provide you an update of the actions that the MRUUSD will take as it relates to Governor Scott’s School Closure announcement.

The Mill River Schools will be closed to students beginning tomorrow, Monday 3/16/2020.

We believe strongly that we are better equipped as a district to execute our plan to meet the Governor’s objectives if we cancel student attendance beginning tomorrow in order to allow the work around meals, providing support for healthcare providers, and maintenance and continuity of education, to begin immediately. 

Our Leadership Team will be working with our employees to plan for the support of our students and families during this closure process of school. To be clear, our primary areas of focus specifically include the wellbeing of our students, families and employees.

We are targeting a start date for remote learning efforts for students to begin on Monday 3/23/2020 as well as for our plans to provide meals to our students to begin this Thursday 3/19/2020. We’ve had a number of community members and agencies reach out to us about volunteering to support our efforts, and we are grateful for that. As we sort out details in the coming weeks we will most certainly identify needs along those lines. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we move forward. You can expect regular communication from me. Please know that we are doing all we can to make sure the Governor’s priorities are taken care of to the best of our abilities.

This situation will continue to develop and we will refine our work continuously. Thank you in advance for your support and your constructive feedback as we progress through these challenging times.

Best Regards,

Dave Younce

MRUUSD Superintendent of Schools


March 13, 2020

Mill River Schools Community,

Summary of this email’s contents:

  • Nothing substantial has changed at this time in terms of guidance we are receiving from state authorities.
  • We are thinking through many different scenarios in terms of any impacts from actions we might take to best support our students, staff and community.
  • You will continue to receive regular communication from me on Mondays and Fridays. Additional communication will come to you when necessary or relevant.

Currently, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the MRUUSD or our region of Vermont. As you know, the situation is evolving and is very fluid at this time. Guidance from federal and state authorities continues to emerge and we are taking our cues on many aspects of this situation from those authorities.

With presumed positive cases in Vermont and confirmed cases in New York and New England  increasing and as a result of our coordination with the Vermont Department of Health and Agency of Education, the MRUUSD is taking proactive measures to help to reduce the spread of illness throughout our community.

However, we are not closing schools at this time as that decision continues to be premature and we will ultimately be informed and guided by state authorities on that decision.

We have implemented the following steps at this time:

  • Any scheduled international trips connected to our schools are canceled.
  • Out of state field trips in March and April are canceled. Trips in May and beyond are TBD.
  • In state field trips are still scheduled and being reviewed on a case by case basis.
  • School-based evening activities are still scheduled, and will be reviewed or canceled on a case by case basis as circumstances unfold.
  • School-based volunteer work in the community has been paused for 2 weeks, and will be considered on a case by case basis.
  • Staff travel for work-related conferences and workshops is being reviewed or canceled on a case by case basis. 
  • The start of spring sports programs is currently still scheduled.
  • Outside groups that rent access to our school buildings have been canceled for March and April, with May and beyond TBD.

In the event that a school closing is ordered or becomes necessary, there are several important questions that we are carefully considering and planning for. Those questions that we are developing answers for include:

  • How do we continue student learning if schools are closed and ensure that we meet the needs of all students in an equitable way?
  • How do we keep district employees working and earning paychecks to support families and community?
  • How do we handle the end of the school year if there is a closure?
  • How do we ensure that students who rely on access to meals at school each day continue to have access to that resource?

We are working every day as this situation develops to ensure that we make the best and most reasonable decisions possible to protect our students and staff, follow guidance given by state authorities, and be as responsive as possible to this ever-changing situation. Please keep in mind that I will be the primary source of accurate information about what the district is or is not doing in this situation. I assure you that communication will be consistent (Monday and Friday) and timely (any updates provided as they come) and that decisions will be thoughtful and carefully considered.

Please keep in mind that there are things that we all can do to protect ourselves and others. Handwashing and allowing for personal space continue to be of critical importance. Please review these concepts with your children. We’ll be doing the same in our classrooms. Staying home when you feel ill is important for all students, staff and community members. We are watching our daily attendance rates for all students and staff carefully. Encourage each other to be calm, but cautious, about the risk of infection from various things in the community. And finally, please keep an eye on the Vermont Department of Health and CDC sites: https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/2019-novel-coronavirus

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Please also note, for your planning at home, that next Thursday 3/19/2020 and Friday 3/20/2020 are scheduled non-student days due to full day staff inservice and parent-teacher conferences. 

Sincerely,

Dave Younce

MRUUSD Superintendent of Schools


March 9, 2020

Mill River Schools Community,

This email is intended to provide you with an update as we continue to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Last week I was involved in multiple statewide meetings and conversations led by government officials on this topic. I am pleased that school, healthcare, and government officials are working in concert throughout the state to ensure that the information shared and guidance provided is consistent and accurate.

The Centers for Disease Control has described COVID-19 as a “rapidly evolving situation.” Moving forward, state health authorities may issue new guidance, and we will keep you updated on any impact it may have on our schools. Our district Health Services staff is in regular communication with the Vermont Department of Health for updates and guidance.

While we have no reported cases of COVID-19 in our schools, we are closely monitoring the health and attendance of our students and staff. Our custodians are disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily in our schools, and our buses are also being cleaned daily. We ask that you please help to keep our students and staff safe by staying informed, reminding your child to practice good hygiene, and staying home or keeping children home if they have been running a fever or are exhibiting signs of a fever.

If students report to the health office with a fever and respiratory symptoms, we are contacting parents and asking them to pick up their child. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please contact your physician or the Vermont Department of Health’s hotline at 211.

The Vermont Department of Health and Agency of Education do consider school closures to be premature at this time. We are analyzing field trips and other activities carefully based on the best information and guidance we have in hand.

Parents who travel over the next three months with or without their children are asked to monitor the CDC Travel Advisory page (link at the end of this paragraph). Should travel be to a location identified as high risk, your child should stay home upon the request of the CDC or Dept of Health. 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Finally, please know that we have a team meeting regularly to monitor the situation and plan so that we can best provide for the well-being of our students and staff.

Here is the link to the Vermont Department of Health Coronavirus site. It has the most current information available to us and is worth checking periodically.

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

Sincerely,

Dave Younce
Superintendent of Schools