Working toward fully reopened schools

By Elaine Pinckney

The Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Education have relaxed their rules around social distancing. 

For students under the age of 10, new guidance allows between 3 and 6 feet social distancing. At CVSD, we will still start school with a hybrid schedule for all of our students that chose this option for at least the first few weeks. We believe that we can meet the social distancing guideline at 3 feet, but we have many other issues we need to work on before we bring our K-5 students back for in-person instruction full-time. 

Opening in this measured way allows us to make sure that all our systems are operating efficiently and effectively. We need to know that we can coordinate health checks, temperature checks and bus pick-ups and drop-offs within a reasonable amount of time. We need to manage food delivery to classrooms and figure out supervision of students for this timeframe.

We need to teach our students the importance of social distancing, mask-wearing and good hygiene practices. Most importantly, we need to build confidence in our faculty and staff that we are operating in a safe environment. 

Starting in hybrid will provide us with these assurances and poise us to have a successful in-person option. It will also provide the practice we need in case we would need to revert to hybrid or fully remote learning during the school year. 

None of us wants to imagine this will happen, but we will all be better off if we’re prepared for this eventuality.

While we are checking and fine-tuning our systems, we will be working on our plan to provide full-time, in-person instruction for our youngest learners. This planning will occur locally and in collaboration with our regional partners. 

We will develop criteria and a plan for measuring the success of our hybrid model and our readiness for in-person instruction. Soon we will have a timeline in place.

I hope you were able to attend the community town halls that each of our schools hosted last week. You can access videos of the events at The videos have detailed information about the hybrid and remote plans. 

The work on developing outdoor education opportunities for all of our students continues. A group of teachers and administrators is meeting regularly to determine what is needed at each site to provide both an outdoor space for academic instruction and the materials and equipment needed to do outdoor education. This group is inspiring. They are passionate about this work, and the results will benefit our students now and when we’re all back in school full-time.

Be well.

– Elaine Pinckney is superintendent of the Champlain Valley School District.