Dear SAU 70 School Community,
Sorry for the late update, but we had both SAU and Dresden School Board meetings this evening. I am deeply grateful to our board members for their service to our community and for their support during this challenging public health emergency. I have just a few developments to share tonight.
First, our regional MACE, or Multi-agency Coordinating Entity, met at 1:00 PM today to share updates for our region. The MACE consists of emergency management officials, town managers, police and fire department chiefs, public health officers, health care leaders, higher education leaders, and school superintendents, among others. During our briefing today, we learned that our regional response is moving from a focus on containment to one of mitigation, because there is now evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 locally. This was certainly expected, and corresponding recommendations center on social distancing and careful attention to hand washing and other prevention measures. Advisories to limit social contact and to avoid congregating in groups are also intended to slow the spread of the disease.
Second, as I mentioned yesterday, it will be increasingly important to convince our older children not to gather in large groups, and as difficult as it may be, to urge them to stay home as much as possible. Additionally, several parents asked me about the use of our school playgrounds. While we have not closed our playgrounds, please know that after school use of these facilities has always been "at your own risk." During this outbreak, you should know that we are not disinfecting playground equipment, so if you choose to use our playgrounds anyway, I strongly suggest adhering to social distancing and hygiene recommendations.
Today, our teachers and staff did an admirable job preparing for "remote learning." We made significant progress on our plans for everything from remote instruction to distribution of meals. Please bear in mind that our educators and support staff are working under the same conditions that many of our families are facing. Those who have children are dealing with school closures and child care disruptions as well. Many of our staff or their family members are at high or elevated risk of susceptibility to the virus. We are working with these colleagues to maximize opportunities to work from home and to collaborate through virtual meetings. Many of us will be taking on new responsibilities in order to maintain some operational continuity and to limit the negative impact of school closure on our children. By the end of this week, we will present our plans for remote instruction, create a process for returning students' personal items, and share ideas for preserving the important connection between home and school. Further complicating matters, at about 8:00 PM this evening, Vermont Governor Phil Scott issued an order mandating the continuation of schooling and childcare for "essential persons." We will be digesting this news tomorrow and will let you know how this may impact our planning.
Finally, as this health emergency disrupts our local economy, some of our families will likely experience unexpected hardship. We will be adding links to the COVID-19 page on our web site to share information about technology support, access to free school lunches, and other local resources. You can find the page at sau70.org/covid19 .
Thank you, and good night -