February 19, 2021
Dear BSD Families, Staff, and Students,
Monday we begin winter recess, and I hope you all are able to spend time relaxing and reconnecting. I’m looking forward to spending some time with my family in the snowy trails and parks in Burlington, to seeing the Nordic Ski team compete, and to helping BHS move into their new space Downtown.
February has been a powerful month in BSD and in our nation as we celebrate Black History Month and start to see vaccinations and a vision for a future beyond the COVID pandemic. In particular, I am grateful for the anti-racist conversations and teaching I have heard and seen as I have visited classrooms throughout Black History Month. I know our teachers and staff are dedicated to this deep work to rethink education so it better meets the needs of our entire community. In recognition of our commitment to this work, I hope you will join us on March 12 from 5-6:30 for our annual celebration,“Beyond Black History Month.” Presented virtually this year, the event will feature breakout room discussions and activities on Anti-Racism and we will premier our mini-documentary “We Chose Love and Hope: Raising the Black Lives Matter Flag in Burlington School District.”
Thank you for continuing to engage in this important work. Please see below for a number of District updates, including information regarding remote learning on inclement weather days.
Enjoy the break,
Meals During Break – During Vacation week, meal boxes will only be available on Wednesday the 24th. You can pick up a box on Tuesday the 24th from 3-4 PM at Burlington High School, Sustainability Academy, Champlain Elementary, or the Boys and Girls Club at Roosevelt Park.
Kits will also be delivered to Bobbin Mill and Franklin Square from 11:00-11:30 AM, and delivered to South Meadow and Northgate from 11:45 AM to 12:15 PM. These Family Meal Kits are free and are provided for any child under 19 years old. There is no income requirement, you do not have to have your child present to receive a box, and there is plenty of food to go around. Please pick up a box to help your children get through the winter break.
Black Lives Matter Flag Raised at the Miller Center! On Monday, our HMS afterschool program raised the Black Lives Matter flag at the Miller Center. Thank you Parks and Recreation, City of Burlington, and Sara Holbrook Center for coming together with our Afterschool Program to make this happen!
Remote Learning During Inclement Weather – While the snow may not have been what was predicted, we have now used up our two traditional snow days. For most students, these days will be made up on June 15 and 16. If inclement weather hits again, we will not have a traditional “Snow Day” but will revert to remote learning. Here’s what you can expect:
K-5 – Students and families should expect teachers to greet students at their regular (Wednesday) meeting times on their Google Classroom links. Additional learning plans for the day will be communicated by the classroom teacher. Attendance will be taken at the morning meetings. We look forward to a productive and fun day of learning.
HMS/EMS – All students who were supposed to be in person should check their email at 8 am to receive a schedule for the day. If you were scheduled to be remote on a “snow day” please go to your remote advisory and continue with your learning plan as usual.
BHS/BTC – Students should plan to revert back to the remote schedule (with Block 1 beginning at 10:00 AM) and can access plans on their weekly learning plans. BTC students will follow their Wednesday schedules.
Annual Report and Budget Vote – Have you seen the 2020 Annual Report? A LOT happened in the 2019-2020 school year and into this fall. You can read the report online, or pick up a copy at Fletcher Free Library, The Miller Center, or at Central Office. We can also mail you a copy, just let us know!
The 2020 Annual Report also contains information on the 2022 budget which will be on the Town Meeting Day ballot. Since our last update when we expected our tax impact to be lower than projected, we received notice from the State that they made an error calculating equalized pupils in Burlington. This error is not in our favor, but the positive economic forecast for Vermont should outweigh the error and hold our tax impact predictions steady. As a reminder, when we began building the budget, we were anticipating a 13% tax increase but worked hard to bring that number down to 6.88% for those who pay based on property value, and 6.47% for those who pay based on income. See our one-pager and our budget website for more info… don’t forget to vote on March 2nd!
Kindergarten Registration is in full swing! If you have a child turning five on or before September 1, 2021, it is time to register them now for Kindergarten! This week, many schools presented virtual Welcome to Kindergarten Town Halls. You can find these recordings and more information on our website.
DOWNTOWN BHS IS ALMOST OPEN! DtBHS is looking great and when we return from break, BHS students will have a new home! Fit up remains on schedule and moving has begun earlier than anticipated. 900 new desks arrived this week and are in the process of being assembled and delivered to classrooms. Property services staff have been working with movers to bring the contents from BHS to our new home. The big push will happen on Tuesday, February 23rd with all available hands participating in the move through the week until the job is done as we prepare for the first student days of March 4 and March 5!
Goodbye Edmunds! BHS students and staff said goodbye to Edmunds this Wednesday. Thank you Edmunds Elementary and Middle School staff and students for welcoming BHS students into the campus these past three months. As a thank you, ACE visited classrooms at both schools delivering cards, treats, and some BHS swag. #strongertogether!
Safety and Security at DtBHS – I want to assure you all that we have been hard at work developing safety plans for our new building. We have toured our new home with our SROs and with the District’s safety consultants who are helping ensure we have thought of everything. This home will have security cameras, access control (meaning we can lock the outside doors), lockable doors on the vast majority of spaces, and detailed safety plans for all spaces (with and without doors) which will allow us to employ our standard emergency response protocols, including the ability to have lockdowns in all spaces. Teachers have been touring the space and will move in a few days before students, allowing them to get familiarized with safety plans/protocols.
Important BHS PCB Update – PCB bulk materials sampling has been completed and we have received results for A & B buildings. One of the building materials that have shown high levels of PCBs is in the floor mastic “glue” under the floor tiles. The results of high levels found in materials such as the mastic will require additional sampling in adjacent substrate materials, which in this case is the concrete slabs under the floor tiles, to determine if the PCBs have migrated into those substrate materials. The additional slab testing will begin within the next week. While it is too early to know the degree to which the concrete slabs contain PBCs, this is an important and concerning development because removing portions of the slab can be expensive and could have implications for the structural integrity of the building.
In addition, a 1,100+ page Site Investigation report for soils has also been completed and will be forwarded to the agencies for review and comment which is expected within the next 45 days. We are anticipating that the agencies may require additional soil testing to be conducted.
It is clear that there will be substantial costs to addressing the PCB issues at BHS. We are still months away from having firmer estimates, but we know enough to say that we will not be able to deliver the high school renovations our community expects and deserves if we rely on the BHS ReEnvisioning budget to pay for addressing the PBC issues. Therefore, as we move forward, we will begin exploring and discussing alternative approaches to paying to remediate or mitigate PCB contamination. Please stay engaged and visit the website for updates from the project’s Building and Construction Oversight Committee.
Relationship Mapping – In partnership with the Restorative Practices Collaborative and Health and Wellness committees, BSD has rolled out a process for Relationship Mapping at many of our schools. A positive relationship with a caring, trusting adult is essential at school and connects to academic success, reduced rates of bullying, enhanced social-emotional skills, and a greater sense of belonging. The primary goal of Relationship Mapping is to ensure that every student has a strong connection to somebody at school to support their social-emotional needs. In this process, staff identify students with whom they have a trusting relationship, as well as those that may be “at risk”. They then create a concrete plan to support those students that may be overlooked. Additionally, relationship mapping is being rolled out for staff to ensure that all staff have someone they trust and can go to for guidance and support.
Racialized Trauma Webinar – On Wednesday, February 3rd, over 75 participants attended the Office of Equity’s second webinar series. Our wellness partners Courtney Casper and Zachary Key expertly facilitated a discussion on the intersectionality between racism and mental health with a panel of BIPOC staff, alumni, and parents. The discussion was very impactful and just one small step in our dedication to dismantling racism within our institutions. MyChamplainValley and the BHS Register each provided excellent media coverage recapping the evening.
SRO/School Safety Task Force – This summer we commissioned a task force to review our SRO program and to make recommendations about our path forward to ensure schools are safe and restorative environments. Our School Safety Task Force met numerous times between September and February and they have concluded a draft of the final report. The final recommendation will be given to the school board for action in April.
Elementary Report Cards – K-5 students will take home hard copy report cards TODAY (2/19/21). Once hard copies are printed and administrative assistants have archived these report cards, they will be available to parents via the PowerSchool Parent Portal.
Superintendent Advisory Groups – As part of my commitment to Engagement, I developed three advisory groups (one each for teachers, students, and families) this fall. This month, we held our sixth monthly sessions. One topic of conversation this month for students and for teachers was thinking through BSD’s recovery plan. Each group provided their perspective on what we should prioritize over the next several years as we plan to address the learning loss and social emotional impacts of living through a pandemic. One thing that rose to the top of people’s lists is a need to focus on the mental health of both students and staff. Some creative ideas include:
- Hiring more staff focused on counseling and mental health who would be available both during and outside of regular school hours for both families and students.
- An intentional focus on building relationships both among staff and students as we come back together in our middle schools and high school.
- Consider an array of options for helping students get caught up for lost learning, recognizing that not all students will benefit from just one model.
10,000 MEAL KITS! – It is official, by the end of today the Burlington School Food Project will have distributed over 10,000 meal kits this school year! That equates to over 280,000 meals/snacks! The BSFP team creating these kits, and the teams within our schools, are proud to be able to continue providing the access to meals that our students need! We recently worked with our partners at Performance (formerly Reinhart Foodservice) to capture the program in a native ad (an ad that looks like a media story) that will run on MyChamplainValley in the next few weeks.
Clemmons Family Farm: Windows to A Multicultural World Pilot – For the next two weeks, Ms. Malik’s class at Champlain will be taking part in a special pilot using curriculum from the Clemmons Family Farm. The Clemmons Family Farm is one of the oldest African-American-ownedican owned historic farms in Vermont that has recently transitioned to become an educational non-profit. Their first online program “Windows to a Multicultural Word” was developed during the pandemic in response to the need for virtual opportunities for their offerings at the farm. This program offers a curriculum that explores African-American and African diaspora art, history, and culture. Over the next two weeks we will be engaging with lessons, videos, resources, and a live artist engagement with Afro-Jazz singer, KeruBo. Ms. Greene and Ms. Malik have both been selected to pilot this new curriculum and are very excited to co-teach this material together!
GoGuardian – Now, more than ever, it is important we can ensure students safely access their education, particularly as we engage with remote learning in our hybrid schedule. As many of you know, the District uses GoGuardian to ensure student safety while online. GoGuardian is a Chrome extension attached to students’ District Google accounts that runs in the Chrome browser for students grades 3-8. Burlington School District uses GoGuardian Admin. BSD does not utilize GoGuardian modules such as GG Teacher that provides additional chromebook activity monitoring.
When operating on a BSD-managed Chromebook, a student will see reference to the GoGuardian license and admin extension icons pinned to the browser bar. (If not visible there, the student can see reference to the extensions at chrome://extensions.) In addition, if a student signs into Chrome using their BSD account on a personal/non-district device, then they will also see reference to the extension (though nothing is actually installed on that personal device by GoGuardian, just within the Chrome browser). This means that if fully signed into Chrome services through a non-district device, the extension will fulfill its capacity of filtering and monitoring UNTIL the user signs out of Chrome. We will make sure the potential application of GoGuardian on a non-BSD device is more clear to families in next year’s technology agreements.
|BSD COVID Dashboard|
|# of cases since last update: 2/5/21||11|
|# of locations since last update: 2/5/21||6|
|# of cases since return from December Break||27|
|# of locations since break||9|
|Total cases (first case 12/10/20)*||53|
|Surveillance Testing Participation|
|Round One Participation (11/20/20)||363/1176 (31%)|
|Positive Results from Round One||0|
|Round Two Participation (1/6/21)||235/1176 (20%)|
|Positive Results from Round Two||0|
|Round Three Participation (2/4/21)||124/1176 (10.5%)|
|Positive Results from Round Three||0|
|*The State of Vermont Publishes a list ofall Cases in Vermont K-12 LearningCommunities While Infectious|