BY KATHERINE LAZARUS
BRANDON –– Rutland Northeastern Supervisory Union and Greater Rutland County Supervisory Union students will wear masks indoors for at least the first 10 days of school while school officials calculate the percentage of students who are vaccinated to determine if the school body has reached an 80% state threshold that could potentially allow for students to attend school without masks. Students will return to full in-person schooling and social distancing will not be required at this time.
Even that threshold, however, was in flux as the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is spreading throughout Vermont.
All pertinent information for RNESU and GRCSU was released by Superintendents Jeanné Collins and Christopher Sell, respectively, in letters sent home on Friday, Aug. 13 that detailed current guidelines for the 2021-2022 school year, which are as follows:
Universal masking is required for all adults and children pending further data on vaccination rates and transmission of the virus in the community, though they can be removed for instructional or operational purposes. Masks must be worn by all passengers on school buses regardless of age or vaccination status.
After the first 10 days of school, masks may no longer be required by students eligible for vaccination, those 12 and older, once the vaccination rate is greater than 80 percent of the school’s eligible population.
Masks will not be required outdoors.
Students and staff should stay home if they show symptoms of COVID — that is, have a fever which is a temperature of 100.4°F or greater; or are in quarantine due to close contact with someone with COVID; or are in isolation due to testing positive to COVID. If symptoms begin at school that person will be isolated until they can go home as soon as possible.
GRCSU will be offering surveillance testing for students and staff, while RNESU is exploring whether offering optional surveillance testing is viable with their capacity of staffing. Both schools will participate in contact tracing.
Students will return to school for five days a week of full-time in person learning and social distancing will not be required.
RNESU is offering EdOptions for K-12 students who wish to learn remotely and are willing to make a commitment to remain in that option for the whole semester. There is a question-and-answer night Aug. 23 at 5 p.m. To join EdOptions, families must virtually attend “Family Town Hall,” separated by grade as follows:
- 6-12: Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. via edmentum.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_naum9MzYSmOBN4NA2zOOQg
- K-5: Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. via edmentum.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_cEEhtzueRYS1i0-mb7CEIw
GRCSU will not be offering any formal remote/learning options this year.
Rutland High School will be providing free vaccines on the following dates:
- Aug. 19, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Sept. 9, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Sept. 30, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
To access any testing or vaccines in Vermont, go to vermont.force.com/events/s/selfregistration.
- Regular bus routes will resume without social distancing, but masks are required. Bus changes will not be allowed at this time.
- RNESU is hosting a question-and-answer information night via us02web.zoom.us/j/84800495063?pwd=ekVFU2d1QWZLWkVUZHlrd0JNSjg1UT09.
- The federal government continues to support free meals for all students this year, no form required.
- RNESU will hold one early release day every month for the 2021-2022 school year for staff development purposes on the following dates: Sept. 17, Oct. 15, Nov. 19, Dec. 17, Jan. 21, Feb. 11, March 11, April 8, and May 20. Exact times will vary by school and will be announced later this month. Students will be given lunch at school or be sent home with it.
- RNESU provides computers via the link tinyurl.com/b4hh8pa4 and WiFi hotspots by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I am looking forward to a more normal school year and seeing all of our students in person this year,” said Supt. Collins. “Unfortunately, COVID is not gone and not yet under control. As nearly 50 percent of (RNESU’s) student population is still not eligible for vaccination, we need to continue with health and safety protocols a while longer. I appreciate how our families, students and staff are invested in the health of our students.”