Message From Our Superintendent
Dear OSSD Community,
We are excited about students returning to school on September 1st, even as we await further guidance from the State on how to proceed given the rising number of Covid cases around the country and here in Vermont. Since most severe cases are occurring in unvaccinated individuals, and since the new dominate strain of Covid appears to have an increased effect on children, districts are struggling to determine the best way to keep their elementary aged students safe this fall as those age twelve and under are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
In terms of our staff, the majority have been vaccinated and breakthrough cases requiring hospitalization are rare. This bodes extremely well for us - as well as for our vaccinated students (aged 12 and older).
In terms of our elementary students, however, the picture is not quite as clear. The truth is, we are about to begin on a path that has not been traveled before, so the best we can do is look for rational guidance to provide direction along the way. This fall, over 34 million elementary students will return to full in-person instruction, unvaccinated, while the Delta Variant expands its influence across the country. It is therefore important that we as a district follow the guidance coming from the Vermont Department of Health (DOH) in conjunction with the Agency of Education (AOE).
On August 4th, the DOH and AOE, sent a two-page memo of guidance for the fall. While the guidance is simple and makes sense, it has left two major unanswered questions that districts are seeking further guidance on: 1 - how we determine who has been vaccinated and who has not; and 2 - do districts have the right and the responsibility to send kids home who do not follow the guidance?
The guidance itself is simple and straightforward:
Stay Home when Sick
All students and staff should stay home if they show symptoms of COVID-19; have a fever (temperature greater than 100.4°F); or are currently in quarantine due to close contact with an individual with COVID-19 or in isolation due to testing positive for COVID-19. If symptoms begin while at school, the student or staff member should be sent home as soon as possible, and the individual should be isolated from other staff and students until they can go home.
According to the DOH and AOE
- Masks are not required for those eligible for vaccination when the vaccination rate among students is equal to or greater than 80% of the school's currently eligible population.
- Schools should require universal masking for all students and staff indoors for the first ten days of school to provide time for each school to determine the percentage of its population that has been vaccinated.
- Masks should be required indoors for students aged twelve and under. There will be an exception for those who are developmentally unable to wear a mask or who have a documented medical condition that precludes the use of a mask.
- Universal masking is required for all passengers on busses (federal regulation) regardless of vaccination status.
- Masks are not required outdoors.
We will continue to contact trace as requested by the DOH whenever a student or staff member tests positive for the virus.
As new guidance becomes available, we will update the information available to families via email, front porch forum, and on our website. Thank you for your continued support and understanding.
Layne Millington, Superintendent