Dear SAU 70 School Community,
Thanks so much for your patience as we embarked on our remote learning shakedown cruise today. As you can imagine, a great deal of work has gone into gathering and distributing instructional materials, and planning for a new model of teaching and learning. We will definitely encounter challenges along the way (like snowstorms in the middle of our effort to distribute meals and materials) as we all get used to communicating and working together in new ways.
Each day we participate in multiple conferences with our Vermont and New Hampshire state officials - departments of education, health and human services, emergency management, and state and federal legislators. I will share information gained from these meetings through these updates. Today, there was not much new beyond the latest statistics about the disease, and an assurance that we should stay the course with remote learning. Many teachers, students, and parents have asked about state testing. Yesterday, the U.S. DOE announced that it would grant relief from federal testing requirements, like the NH SAS and the VT SBAC, if the chief state school officers request it.
Today, NH Commissioner Edelblut informed us that while he has not yet requested such an exemption, he would continue to monitor the situation and may do so soon. Many superintendents on the videoconference advocated for a quick decision on this matter. Commissioner Edelblut did assure everyone that we should focus on the near term and develop our remote instruction systems. In another recent videoconference, VT Secretary of Education French made a similar statement about testing, adopting a “wait and see” stance for now, but also assured us that he would pursue a waiver if that made sense for our students. Both state leaders told us to expect our school closures to extend well beyond the first week of April.
As the outbreak continues, our state leaders continue to react. We should anticipate stricter social distancing measures to be mandated soon. As we receive implementation guidance relative to any future measures, I will share our plans as soon as possible. You will continue to receive regular communication from your principals as well – they are your best source for information specific to your school(s). The uncertainty of this pandemic is giving way to reality as more of us become aware of people who are becoming ill from the disease. While school is certainly important, right now, your health, your family’s health and our community’s health take precedence. We will make every effort to keep our children learning and connected to school, but we do not want that effort to cause undue stress. Whether you are a parent, student, or school district employee, please let us know if there is anything we can do to help.