School Guidance and Travel Clarifications: April 15, 2021

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Dear Families,

We want to highlight the COVID protocol updates that we have provided in recent newsletters. We are sending this separately in hopes of having more families take note. This is also a reminder that we do communicate critical things in the newsletter and encourage all parents to read it consistently. 

We have noted the unfortunate irony that we have a case at our school, and case numbers are higher, just as school restrictions have been lessened

The guidelines and the science increasingly point to sharing air inside being the bigger concern, over touching surfaces. As such, the requirements for sanitizing have been reduced and we have further prioritized our efforts on the measures that have been shown to be more protective. We are continuing our use of our upgraded HVAC system, along with air filters in each classroom, strict masking inside, not having students/teachers spend long periods near the same student, and spending as much time as possible outside.

Many of us, staff and parents, are concerned about the upcoming Spring break and travel and/or gatherings that may be planned. The truth is that while we (as a school that has students using public funds) must follow the new Vermont Department of Health travel guidelines, we are uncomfortable that the new guidance excludes the need for quarantine for travel within the US. It does, however, require that students who have traveled get a COVID test within 3 days of returning to Vermont. 

For International Travel, guidance references the CDC International Travel guidelines, which require “a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND to stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel. Even if you test negative, [you must] stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.”


New Changes, in Effect for HMS on Monday, April 12

  • We will no longer take temperatures of students or staff upon arrival to campus. Instead, “All students, their families and staff must comply with and ensure daily monitoring of COVID19 exposure and COVID-19 symptoms.” Staff will continue to complete a symptom and exposure screening upon arrival to school each morning.
  • “All students and staff will be excluded from in-person school and sports activities, if they:
    • Show symptoms of COVID-19 
    • Have a fever (temperature greater than 100.4°F)
    • Are currently in isolation due to testing positive for COVID-19.”
    • Have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid and are quarantining accordingly. 
  • “The use of fogging, fumigation, electrostatic or wide area spraying on hard surfaces is not recommended,” and therefore we will be discontinuing use of our disinfectant sprayer.
  • “All students must be spaced a minimum of 3 feet apart to the extent possible,” whereas previously it had been 6 feet for children grade 5 and up. Adults will continue to remain 6 feet away from students and each other as much as possible.  

Guidelines That Will Stay the Same

  • Adults doing drop-off and pick-up must wear facial coverings. 
  • For ease of drop off and pick up, we ask that adults continue to remain in their vehicles during that time.
  • Morning health checks (excluding temperature checks).
  • Routine hand washing, distancing, and masking.

In Regards to Travel Guideline Changes

New state travel guidelines 

  • Unvaccinated Vermonters who have traveled outside the state must be tested within 3 days of returning to Vermont. Learn more.
  • Unvaccinated people planning to visit Vermont must have a COVID-19 test within 3 days before arriving in Vermont. Learn more.
  • Rules for international travel are different and do require a 7 day quarantine. Learn more.

The three day testing does not feel appropriately protective to us. We encourage families: 

  • not to have unvaccinated individuals travel (including children who are all unvaccinated), 
  • to limit travel to “essential” travel in order to be as protective as possible, 
  • and if a student travels or has other socializing that feels risky, to continue to stay out of school for 7 days followed by a negative test result before returning to school.

While we will continue to follow all current VTDH and AOE guidelines, we must encourage that families continue to remain diligent in their efforts to keep our communities safe, and only travel for essential purposes and in as safe a way as possible. You can also find frequently asked questions on the Vermont Department of Health website here

Please feel free to reach out to Zoe, Covid Coordinator, or Tamara, if you have any questions.