SVSU team working on reopening plan for schools

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BENNINGTON — The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union is fully into the process of reopening schools in person this fall.

To that end, the SVSU has established a Fall Planning Team for the 2020-21 school year. Using the guidances released by the Vermont Agency of Education released on June 17, the team is working on multiple plans for the coming year, including all remote learning (Phase I), more restrictive in-person learning (Phase II) and less restrictive in-person learning (Phase III).

The team is made up of a diverse representation from each of the schools in the SVSU, along with representatives from special education, curriculum and educational technology.

Mike Molloy, a social studies teacher at Mount Anthony Union High School, said that there are somewhere between 50 and 60 people on the full team.

"It runs the gamut from the superintendent and assistant superintendent, to elementary, middle and high school teachers, to maintenance and technology and to the health-care clinicians," Molloy said. "It's really all-encompassing."

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Molloy said the high school group, which numbers around a dozen people, have been working together to figure out things like what the schedule, the day and the building will look like when school begins. Right now, the opening day of school at MAUHS is August 26.

"Things are still in the infant stages, but we have been tasked on specific parts (of reopening)," Molloy said. "Overall, we're looking at the big picture, then we'll decide what direction we need to take."

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The planning team has a goal to provide a plan for the SVSU by August 1.

"The ideal is that every student is back to school on a full schedule, but if we can't do that, we move down to the next step," Molloy said. "Can we get back to what is was [before we closed in March], if not, what's the least restrictive point we can get to? And each school is different, a thousand kids at MAUHS is different than 100 kids at Monument [Elementary]."

Monument Elementary has 131 students enrolled from grades K-5, while the high school has 925 students from grades 9-12.

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Molloy said that overall, everyone is erring on the side of caution when they are working on the plan to reopen safely.

"It's been a little bit of a wait and see, to see what the government and the CDC and the medical experts are saying," Molloy said. "But we are going full steam ahead with our planning."

On Friday, the SVSU will be sending out surveys to families to provide feedback and ask questions.

Moving forward, the SVSU will be giving out weekly updates at the school's website, through social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and K-12 Alerts. People are asked to send in their up-to-date contact information to their school or to SVSU's Central Office. Their phone number is 802-447-7501.


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