Head of School Weekly Email: New VT Guidance, Winter Athletics Update, and Other School News
December 24, 2020
Dear TA Families & Students,
We welcomed the good news on Tuesday from Governor Scott and his team that the rate of cases in Vermont has stabilized, thanks in large part due to Vermonters’ willingness to abide by the state’s restrictions.
We are processing the new guidance related to winter athletics that Gov. Scott issued yesterday and can share the following updates at this time:
- We are reviewing the revised VT guidance and have yet to finalize decisions regarding the option and parameters for a basketball season at TA this winter. We are trying to balance Vermont state guidance with health and safety considerations for our school community. There are strong sentiments on both sides of this complex and emotional issue – with some voices expressing concern about the safety of indoor athletics and its potential impact on the whole school, and other voices advocating for TA to follow Vermont guidance and provide our student athletes who play basketball with the same opportunities as their Vermont peers. We need more time and will provide another update by January 8.
- We have created a COVID-compliant set up for our fitness equipment, so students can participate in physical conditioning sessions after school, starting January 4. This is open to all students; numbers are limited, and prior sign up is required. Contact Athletic Director Blendon Salls to sign up, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We are moving ahead with outdoor sports based on the VT guidance issued Tuesday. The alpine program will be led by returning coaches Amy Huyffer and Paul Dixon. Students in all grades are invited to participate. The high school level includes opportunity for competition; the middle school level does not include competitive races. Sign up is required, using this form. Contact Athletic Director Blendon Salls for more details, email@example.com.
- Cross-country skiing will take place at a club level, with skiing on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 2-4 pm. The club will be led by Scott Ellis, with support from Kara Toms. This is an extracurricular, noncompetitive club, open to all levels. Equipment is available for students who need it. Students can sign up using this form. Contact TA’s TOP Coordinator Scott Ellis for more details, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional program updates …
Week of January 4: As I shared on December 18, Thetford Academy will proceed with our regular schedule January 4-8. We are aware that some neighboring districts have opted to be remote that week, including Orange East Supervisory Union and therefore Thetford Elementary School. Usually we try to align our calendars with our sending SUs, especially OESU; we made this decision, however, based on our commitments to providing an on-campus experience whenever possible and maintaining consistency for students. Additionally, our program allows for students to be remote on a temporary basis, so the whole school does not need to go remote. Please communicate with Dean of Students Siobhan Lopez if your family needs to make a temporary shift to remote learning. (Read details here on latest guidance around household gatherings, travel, and quarantine obligations.)
2nd Semester Planning Process: We are hard at work thinking ahead to 3rd and 4th quarters and determining ways that we can safely and creatively make some ‘turns of the spigot’ to provide more in-person learning experiences for students next semester. The student survey responses and focus groups make it clear that our high school students, especially, due to the particular design of the 9-12 program, are hungry for more class time with their teachers. There is a lot of positive feedback about the pod model and appreciation for the safety it provided this fall – and also a readiness and strong hope for a new level of academic engagement next semester.
December Stakeholder Surveys: Thanks to those who have filled out our December survey, and a reminder to those who have not done so yet. The survey deadline is 12/28. We welcome your feedback and input.
School Staff Surveillance Testing: More good news to share on this front. We had approximately 40 TA employees participate in the first two rounds of Vermont’s statewide school staff COVID testing initiative in Nov and Dec., with zero positive cases reported.
We wish everyone the opportunity to enjoy some of their treasured holiday traditions and the discovery of new ones that can fill the gaps of what we are missing this season.
Merry Christmas Eve,
Carrie Brennan, Head of School