May Communique

Posted by Peter Burrows on 5/1/2020


Teacher Appreciation Day
On May 5, the country will be celebrating Teacher Appreciation Day. I wanted to actually begin the celebration today, with the recognition that that this appreciation should be a daily practice as opposed to an annual event. I feel incredible gratitude for the work that all of you do to support our students, their families, and the greater community.

One thing that has become absolutely clear during the pandemic is the role educators and schools take in supporting the social, emotional, and academic needs of our community. As we have moved to remote learning, the backdrop of all that we normally take for granted in our daily routine has come into sharper focus. Through our forced physical distancing, it's easier to see the ways in which ACSD teachers fill innumerable roles to serve the many needs our students and families have. You all are at the core of how our communities thrive.

On behalf of many, many people in ACSD and our graduates all over the world, thank you for what you do!



Figuring Out Summer and Fall
Over the last week, I've had many conversations with state leaders, local educators, and parents regarding questions around what the summer and fall might look like and what direction we may take in working to get back to "normal." As different organizations begin to take steps, such as UVM announcing they will open campus to students in the fall, school districts across the state are working to determine what's possible given the Governor's orders.

Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 orders, we expect to get much more clarity on what the summer and next year will look like within the following month. Agency of Education guidance on graduation and graduation ceremonies is coming May 8, and I expect that we will continue to receive updated state guidance that will help us to make definitive plans around structures and approaches that we can use as we transition back from remote learning. I think it's clear that returning to normal will be a gradual process as opposed to the flipping of a switch.

We are working statewide to discuss what's possible given the many different parameters that could be placed on school districts this fall. With the inherent challenges we've been facing with remote learning, it will be critical that we determine how we'll support all students in making a transition back that addresses potential learning loss and gets all back on stable ground. Our recent continuity of learning survey, in which we've had over 600 responses thus far, will be an important starting point to determine where we need to focus our attention in bridging the inequities that we face. 



Board and Budget Update
The ACSD Board had its first virtual meeting this week, and will be following this format for the foreseeable future. Board meetings are streamed live on MCTV through YouTube, and you can also login to Zoom to provide public comment.

Central to the work of the Board during COVID-19 is getting a better handle on the financial implications of the pandemic and its impact on education funding. Vermont news outlets have been sharing information about the legislature's work in determining the projected revenue shortfall for current and future fiscal years, impacts on the economy, and actions they can take to address the challenges ahead. Here's an article from VPR that outlines the impacts of COVID-19 on the education fund.

There is no question that we will be facing significant fiscal challenges as a state, and I will share information as I get it as we work together to figure out what's the right course of action.