News

MAUSD plans to have students back in the classroom this fall

BRISTOL — After completing the final 12 weeks of the 2020 school year remotely due to COVID-19, the Mount Abraham Unified School District has begun planning for school buildings to reopen in the fall.
“Some form of in-person learning is likely to happen in the fall, almost certainly with some safety measures in place,” said Superintendent Patrick Reen in a June 9 “MAUSD Community Announcement” video posted to the Northeast Addison Television website.
In the meantime, MAUSD summer programs — including Expanded Learning, Summer Meals and special education programming — will get under way later this month, albeit with significant modifications because of the ongoing pandemic.
SUMMER PROGRAMS
Enrollment for the Summer Expanded Learning Program (ELP), which will begin at Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School on June 29, is already closed, according to ELP Director Mandy Chesley-Park, who was one of several district administrators to join Reen on the video. Because of social-distancing requirements imposed by the Vermont Department of Health to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Summer ELP will be limited to 100 students per day. Program administrators are working on developing a waiting list, she added.
Chesley-Park and her colleagues have spent the last 12 weeks honing the safety protocols required to run such a program. On Friday they wrapped up the MAUSD Essential Persons Childcare Program, which had served 45 children of frontline pandemic workers residing in all three county school districts.
The Summer Meals Program will also be transitioning from a successful pandemic program.
Between March 19 and June 10, with students learning remotely from home, the MAUSD/ANWSD school nutrition cooperative delivered 104,000 breakfasts and lunches to families in the Bristol- and Vergennes-area school districts, according to program director Kathy Alexander.
The Summer Meals Program, which begins Monday, June 22, will not be making deliveries during the summer, but families may pick up a total of six breakfasts and six lunches per week — for each child 18 or younger.
Half of those meals may be picked up on Tuesdays and the other half on Fridays, at one of several programming sites, including ELP at Mount Abe, the Bristol Hub and Teen Center, and the Common Ground Center in Starksboro.
Special education services will also be available this summer, both in-person and remotely, according to Director of Student Support Services Susan Bruhl.
The district is taking measures to ensure that physical spaces are safe for students and staff this summer and fall.
In addition to developing aggressive disinfection protocols, the MAUSD is currently working on prototypes for face shields that can be used for student-teacher interactions, and tabletop Plexiglas protection that will be ready for the opening of summer programs, said Facilities Director Joel FitzGerald in the video.
BACK TO SCHOOL
MAUSD educators are planning for two potential scenarios, said Robinson Elementary School Principal Edorah Frazier in the video:
•  All students will attend school following physical-distancing guidelines on buses, playgrounds and in classrooms.
• Or students would have staggered schedules so they would not all be at school at the same time. Remote learning would take place for students when they’re not in school buildings.
Over the last three months the district has learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t for remote learning, administrators said in the video, and they will be refining those processes over the summer, using feedback received during the remote-learning period to develop plans for the fall.
They will also be following guidelines issued by the state of Vermont, which has announced that school buildings will indeed be opening for instruction this fall.
Remote learning just isn’t sustainable, said Gov. Phil Scott in a June 10 press conference.
“While teachers and administrators adapted by getting creative and doing everything they could to make sure kids succeed (during the past three months), I think we can all agree that this approach cannot continue without kids falling behind in their schoolwork and the social development that takes place in the physical structures of the schools,” Scott said.
Education Secretary Dan French believes the state is safely able to open schools for in-person instruction in the fall, he said at the press conference. French and Health Commissioner Mark Levine planned to release detailed reopening guidelines this week.
French previewed some of those guidelines:
•  All students and staff will have a daily health check at first point of contact with school.
•  Student bus riders will be screened before boarding buses.
•  Daily health checks will consist of two components: interviews and temperature screenings.
•  At-risk staff (those 65 years or older, and those with underlying health conditions) will be encouraged to talk with their health care providers to assess their risk.
•  All staff will be required to wear facial coverings while in school.
•  Students will be encouraged to wear facial coverings when appropriate.
The state will also be practicing what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls “reactive school closure,” where a single school or a group of schools might need to be closed temporarily as a result of an isolated outbreak of the virus, French explained.
Guidelines and protocols are almost certainly going to need updating as the pandemic situation evolves, French said.
“It’s likely we’ll have to change, amend or add to this guidance in the coming months.”
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

Share this story:

More News
News

How are we handling the opioid overdose crisis? Local discussion

Three local professionals will discuss their experiences navigating the opioid crisis Mond … (read more)

News

Middlebury man killed in Weybridge crash

David K. Ricklefs, 53, lost control of the Subaru Impreza he was driving on Morgan Horse F … (read more)

News

Documentary puts Vermont food insecurity center stage

A Middlebury filmmaker’s new film charts the evolution and impacts of the wildly successfu … (read more)

Share this story: