#childsafety | Maple Run Superintendent Kevin Dirth answers questions on school reopening | Opinion

Dear Maple Run Families:

Last week I shared with you the Reopening Guidance and the enrollment form for you to select the learning option that best suits your child and your family. The deadline was August 11th. However, if you didn’t have a chance to complete the enrollment form, your child will automatically be assigned to the hybrid learning model. You can always reach out to each school if you need to change your child’s enrollment status.

This week’s letter contains answers to questions many of you have been asking. All of this information can also be found on our COVID-19 resources website. Additionally, the same information will be shared in a video featuring Maple Run Principals, the Assistant Superintendent, and the District’s COVID-19 Health Coordinator. This video and others can be found on YouTube by searching MRUSD Outreach Channel.

What are the primary decision making drivers for reopening? When will school start? What will be the drivers for changes in instructional modes (i.e., the number of days in person)?

The decision drivers for reopening will include health/safety, equity, and instructional schedules. It is paramount that we are able to provide as much face-to-face instruction as possible, however we must do so in a safe manner following the guidelines established by the Governor’s Reopening Phases and a focus on our most vulnerable learners. As per the Governor’s announcement of an Executive Order, all Vermont schools will begin on September 8, 2020.

We will continue to follow the Governor’s Phases of Reopening schools, as well as the guidance provided by the Agency of Education (AOE), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the Department of Health (DOH). Our District continues to work closely with our partner School Districts in the Champlain Valley area as we have many operational aspects that cross school district boundaries.

How will MRUSD provide clarity for students and parents regarding what school will look like for them day to day?

Each school will provide drop off and pick up times that will need to be followed. High School students will be given a course schedule that they will need to follow on their in-person and virtual days. In terms of PK-8 schools, on in-person days, students will report to their homerooms once they arrive. This is where they will spend much of their day as the cafeteria and gyms will be closed. Unified Arts schedules are being developed so that teachers will rotate to different classrooms to provide art, music, and physical education. When feasible, students will be brought outside for PE class and recess; however, playgrounds will remain closed during school hours. Breakfasts and lunches will be delivered to classrooms where students will eat.

During virtual learning days, students will be given assignments they will need to work on and submit using the learning management system (LMS) that has been set up for them. Teachers will also be in contact during virtual learning days.

Can my child switch between hybrid & virtual?

We want to support our families at this time. We know that for some of you this is a really hard decision. We have spoken with several families that are really not sure what they want for their children. They have asked if they pick Hybrid or Virtual and it doesn’t work, can they change. We can and will do that for our families. The only thing we want our families to understand is that it will feel like switching schools. There will be a different teacher and different assignments. We do not recommend switching too often, and we will limit the number of times that we will change a placement, because it will impact learning.

What’s the earliest drop-off and latest pick-up? Is there a daycare option? After school option?

The earliest drop-off depends on the schools your children attend.

PreK — 8 Schools

St. Albans City School, drop off is at 7:30 for buses and walkers and 7:45-8:00 for cars. For St. Albans Town Educational Center, drop off is between 8:15-8:45 for cars and 8:35-8:50 for buses. At Fairfield Center School, drop off is between 8:10 and 8:20.

Unfortunately, we do not have the staffing available to provide care any earlier than our drop off times. For your children’s safety, we ask that you not drop off early, as there will be no supervision.

In the afternoons, all students need to be picked up or dismissed by bus. We do not have staff available for after school care at this time. At St. Albans City School, pick up is at 2:30 for buses and walkers and 2:45 for cars. For St. Albans Town Educational Center, pick up is between 3:15 and 3:35 for cars and 3:20 to 3:40 for buses. At Fairfield, pick up is between 2:50 and 3:05.

BFA High School & Northwest Career and Technical Center (NCTC)

The school day begins at 8:00 and ends at 2:45 for all students. We are working on staggered entry and exit times in and out of the buildings. More details will be forthcoming. Students arriving by bus prior to 7:45 will be directed to one of three staffed locations where physical distancing will be in place and where they must stay until dismissed for class.

While we remain in hybrid learning, unless attending a school club, activity or meeting, all BFA and NCTC students will need to depart the building at the end of the school day based on the staggered release times.

Can my child be placed in a specific group because they have an opportunity to work the virtual days?

All students in the hybrid learning model must be engaged in learning all five days, whether in-person or virtually. Attendance is expected and will be taken every day at the start of each class. Students are expected to be in class Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, dependent upon if they are assigned to the Blue or Green group.

BFA and NCTC students, when in virtual learning, must connect with their teachers by logging in during the start of each assigned class.

Will the school provide my child a laptop?

  • Fairfield Center School will send home iPads with children in grades K & 1, and Chromebooks with children in grades 2-8.
  • St. Albans Town Educational Center will provide iPads for students in K. Chromebooks will be provided in grades 1-8.
  • St. Albans City School has Chromebooks for students from PreK-8.
  • BFA and the NCTC will assign Chromebooks to each student. The laptops are expected to be assigned by the first week of school.

We don’t have access to the internet, what will happen for the three days that they’re not in school?

All three PreK-8 schools have high-speed internet access in their parking lots for families who need that service. BFA and NCTC are working on WiFi accessible areas for students to connect during virtual learning days. Collins Perley will also have outside spaces where students can access the internet. Public libraries are another option for finding internet access.

What will learning at the Northwest Career & Technical Center look like?

As you know, career and technical training is typically in-person hands-on learning. Since this year is not typical, we will work very hard to engage your child in meaningful activities when they are in virtual learning for three days out of the five days.

Career and technical training also includes internship opportunities. As we receive more information about in-person internships, we will keep you posted. There will certainly be opportunities to connect virtually with the workforce, such as interviewing employers and having employers interview students.

For the two days that your child is with us, rest assured, they will be busy and active. We will be outside as much as possible, for some programs more than others, so please come dressed for any type of weather.

What will happen if there is a COVID-19 case in our school?

We have learned a lot about COVID-19 since last spring. Therefore, if there is a positive case in school, it is not always necessary to close the entire school building. This is due to everyone’s efforts in wearing masks, keeping a 6-foot distance, and frequently washing hands. It is unsure if the entire classroom would need to self-quarantine since each situation is unique and independently assessed. That decision is made by the Vermont Department of Health. We will pay particular attention to the area in which the student/staff member spent time and provide additional cleaning and ventilation.

The Vermont Dept. of Health is doing a fantastic job at contact tracing and they will be touching base with us immediately. They consider both time and distance when determining who is a close contact. Within approximately 72 hours, they will contact all persons considered close contact and give them further instruction for isolation, quarantine, self-observation, and testing. If you are concerned about having been in close contact reach out to your school nurse for advice. The nurse may advise you to stay home until you’re contacted for at least 72 hours. Close contact does not mean: being in the same environment all day, walking by, or being in the same room for a brief time. Any decision for school closure would be based on guidance from the Agency of Education along with advice from the Department of Health. We plan that if and when a positive case is in school we will be prepared and handle it quickly, following all health care guidelines. Good and effective communication will be the key to everyone’s success and well being.

These questions and answers along with several others can be found on our COVID-19 Resources website. We also know that there are questions about child care and athletics. The latest updates came from the Governor last week, announcing over $10 million in grants for child care providers to keep critical child care operations afloat. We hope this will provide additional options for our families who are trying to balance work and school schedules. The Governor also announced that there will be a fall sports season when Vermont high schools open next month, but with changes. We will share more information when it’s available.

We have a strong community and appreciate the hard work of countless people who are doing their best to keep our staff and students healthy and safe. For answers to any questions you may have, please send an email to covid19@maplerun.org or call the message line at 802-370-3966.


Kevin Dirth

Superintendent of Schools

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