Schools react to evolving challenges

Photo portrait of Rene Sanchez

By Rene Sanchez

CVSD superintendent

As we enter mid-October and peak leaf season, I’d like to share some updates on the several searches that we have in place, as well as a description of the testing programs that the Agency of Education is unveiling to help schools mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and decrease the number of students who need to quarantine when a positive case arises in the schools.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We have selected two separate organizations to assist the district in completing an equity audit and in the search and hiring of a diversity, equity and inclusion director.

There are several procedural steps that still must occur before we are able to share the names of the groups who will help our district with these equity goals. Both the equity audit and the diversity, equity and inclusion director search will further the implementation of our district’s and school board’s equity policy. 

To see updates as they become available on these two items, please visit our CVSD Diversity, Equity & Inclusion website (

Partnering to combat TikTok challenges

There is currently a disturbing trend on the TikTok social media platform. The trend includes monthly challenges encouraging its users to do various devious, destructive, disrespectful and illegal behaviors at school or in the community. We have seen behaviors at our CVSD schools, including at WCS, associated with these challenges, leading to the destruction and theft of school property. 

The monthly challenges include disturbing themes like trashing bathrooms, slapping a school staff member, jabbing a member of the opposite sex, making a mess in the courtyard or cafeteria, and more. The school will be sending a clear message to our middle school students that these behaviors are unacceptable, in violation to our school conduct code and, in some cases, illegal. 

Behaviors associated with these challenges will be investigated and treated very seriously by the school. Having to use time, resources, energy and effort to process these disrespectful behaviors is especially troubling when we need to be doubling our efforts to focus on health, safety and learning. 

We want parents/caregivers to be aware of this trend and ask that you talk to your children about it. This is a timely opportunity to talk as families about social media influences, both positive and negative, and support our children in navigating these complicated social dynamics and risks.

Covid Testing Programs for Vermont Schools

The Vermont Agency of Education has expanded testing options at schools to decrease the number of days that students would have to quarantine should they be considered a close contact of a person with a positive test result. This will also reduce the amount of the time and the impact of contact tracing on school personnel. 

The state is now proposing four types of testing in schools: surveillance, test-to-stay, PCR test at school and PCR test at home. Each of these measures will require the permission of a parent or caregiver for the school to implement.

The test-to-stay program will be used when there is a positive case for which a student or students are determined to be close contacts. Instead of quarantining immediately like before, students will come to school each day and take a rapid antigen test upon arriving. If the students test negative, they are able to stay at school. They should, however, continue to follow quarantining protocols when not in the school building. 

If a student tests positive, they will need to go home and begin their isolation timeframe. The test-to-stay option is where we will initially focus our attention.

Test to stay will require that the district and each school create a set of logistics that work for each school’s size, architecture, access to personnel and other variables. We are working with our schools to develop those logistics and hope to have that completed over the next few weeks. When we do have access to the testing format and materials, we will be able to share the implementation process with each school’s community.

Vaccine Verification

One final helpful measure that the state provided to help schools with contact tracing is the ability of school nurses to review a student vaccine record for a Covid vaccination. By giving school nurses access to this record, they can make the determination if a student will need to quarantine. 

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and the Vermont Department of Health do not require people with a Covid vaccination to quarantine unless they are experiencing symptoms. This, too, will help our nurses and our principals quickly determine who from the school will need to quarantine when a positive case arises. Families no longer need to provide vaccine information to the school for eligible students.

Digital Citizenship Week is Oct. 18-22

All CVSD schools will participate in Digital Citizenship Week later this month. Using many resources, including those from Common Sense Education, we will focus on one strand collectively across the district: privacy and security.

— Greg Marino, Williston lead principal, contributed to this report