Greetings Stowe Middle School Families,

When we have a snow day, our school shifts to a remote learning day. Click here to see what our snow day turned to a remote learning day schedule looks like. You’ll see our student day begins with 9 AM classes and/or attendance. I will continue to email ALL students the morning of a remote learning day with the schedule and any announcements for that particular day by 7:30AM. Essentially, if your student was scheduled to have an in-person day their learning day is synchronous with the same educators. If your student was scheduled to have a remote day their learning day is primarily asynchronous with their regularly scheduled learning opportunities.

This snow day schedule reflects multiple levels of feedback from our students, families and educators. We have offered feedback opportunities from previously modified Wednesdays on October 21st and November 18th and our fully remote learning week December 7th – 11th. If we have a snow day, I will be sending out a feedback form to parents, students and educators to tell us about their remote learning experience. Our goal is to always use after action review and feedback to make the best and most informed decisions for our students and their learning.

As such, the Stowe Middle School Leadership Team has been working hard to prepare if there is a return to more in-person learning (if allowed by state guidelines). We have been working on this since January in light of this news. The Stowe Middle School Leadership team consists of

  • Dave Smith, Grade 6 Teacher
  • Jeff Grogan, Grade 7 Teacher
  • Ian Shea, Grade 8 Teacher
  • Julia Finn, Special Educator
  • Seth Marineau, World Language
  • Andy Gagnon, Music Educator
  • Lauren Conti, School Counselor
  • David Bullis, Director of Facilities
  • Dan Morrison, Principal

Recently, our leadership team crafted an opportunity for our educators to provide feedback on schedule drafts, logistics and any needs we might pay attention to if we were to return more students for in-person learning. From that we’ve held multiple faculty meetings to construct two potential schedules to accommodate all middle level students in our school (again if state guidelines are updated to allow). Master schedules usually take two to three months to craft but here at Stowe Middle School some of our grade levels are already on their sixth and seventh master schedule of this school year!

Some common questions I am receiving and their responses related to in-person and remote learning are below.

?: Will we return to normal times or normal school this year?

A: We are unlikely to return to ‘normal’ pre-Covid school in 2020-2021. We are potentially looking at a return of more students. Health screenings, cleaning protocols, transition procedures during the day, lunch procedures, etc. are here to stay and do require extra time in the day to maintain the highest levels of safety for our students and educators.

?: When will our 7th and 8th graders return to four days a week of in-person school?

A: Here is a news article from WCAX that captures the state viewpoint in January. The reality is that we need to see changes in the guidelines from the state before we can make changes. There is a distance at 3’ for 6th graders and 6’ for 7th – 12th graders. We are unable to space our oldest students at the 6’ level in the learning environments. Additionally, we have some of the largest cohort sizes since I’ve been principal at Stowe Middle School.

?: Why can’t we have LIVE instruction on Wednesdays?

A: There’s a few factors based on feedback from each stakeholder group of students, parents and educators. One, connectivity is a challenge for our families to have students in LIVE meets. We have seen challenges with multiple students in a household or a student and a parent in household sustaining connectivity during Advisory and the few times we’ve tried live instruction. Additionally, I’ve received multiple communications around anxiety the night before and concerns for missing learning opportunities due to connectivity. A challenge for sure! The 7th and 8th grade hybrid cohorts aren’t always lined up during the week for instruction/learning until the week is completed. Between connectivity and alignment it creates a challenge in providing effective 30 minute instruction to both groups at the same time. We also have a few classes where we’d have 25+ students in a remote classroom and with connectivity issues of students coming and going it creates many distractions.

?: What are some of the features of the snow day schedule that might impact future Wednesdays?

A: In 6th Grade, we are trying a few new tech tools to see if an entire cohort of students in live instruction can be more successful than our October and November attempts. Our 6th graders have been four days a week for a while and are not impacted by the challenges of a split cohort like 7th and 8th grade. For our 7th/8th graders we will offer both synchronous and asynchronous instruction on a snow day. We are curious to see how our students on the synchronous side do with less students in a live meet, longer screen breaks, etc. We will use any feedback from a snow day to potentially try a new Wednesday schedule on March 3rd. I want to emphasize that we use feedback, state guidelines and what we think is best for our students to make the best decisions possible.

?: If I have a question, comment or positive shout out for Stowe Middle School, where can I send it?

A: You can submit a question or comment here.

Other happenings at Stowe Middle School besides preparing for a potential snow day include instruction around winter fire drills. We will be reviewing our February fire drill later this week. We go over guidelines with all students to maintain our safe and healthy expectations.

Another happening at Stowe Middle School was our winter concert last Friday! Wait…you missed it? No worries….click here! You’ll see our talented musicians and are award winning music educators in action! Extend a congratulatory shout out to Stowe Middle and High School’s Grace Chris (grace.chris@lsuu.org) as the recipient of the Vermont Music Educators’ Association Outstanding New Music Educator of the Year Award for the State of Vermont!  Grace has been an amazing colleague and champion of music education throughout her school, district, and state in the short time she has been here, and we are proud to acknowledge her accomplishments. She was recognized at the VMEA virtual conference – please join us in congratulating her.

(Below/Left: Grace Chris, winner of the VMEA’s Outstanding New Music Educator of the Year)

(Above: Examples of sixth graders winter season art!)

Thanks for reading this week’s update! Please read below to see our school’s announcements.

Best,
Dan Morrison, Principal
dan.morrison@lsuu.org

Please review our health and safety guidance below:

We recommend that all SMS students exercise the utmost care in following all health and safety guidance from the Vermont Department of Health.

  1. Do not gather outside your household except for essential purposes.  Stay home when sick.  Wear a mask, wash hands frequently, and ensure physical distancing with others. Consider how best to follow these guidelines in your home without compromising social-emotional well-being.
  2. Contact your primary care provider if you have questions about your or your student’s health, or if anyone in your household has COVID-19 symptoms.

Contact Jordan Myerson (802-585-4087) if your student or someone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 or received a positive COVID-19 test result.  Learn more about getting tested in Vermont.

Announcements and Information Below

Athletics:

*Winter Sports UPDATE:  Practices will continue as planned for the two (2) weeks following the start of High School games. Practices are permitted during winter recess – as gym times are established information will be sent to families and published. Beginning March 1st competitions within LSUU will begin against Peoples Academy.

Week of February 15th

Boys Basketball White (Coach Sherman): Monday,Tuesday, Thursday (3:00-4:00pm) @ SHS GYM (NO WED/FRI PRACTICE THIS WEEK)

Boys Basketball Green (Coach Brown): Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (4:15-5:15pm*) @ SHS Gym (NO WED/FRI PRACTICE THIS WEEK)

*Athletes who have practice at 4:15pm must leave school at regular dismissal and can arrive no earlier than 5 minutes to the start of practice. Also all athletes must use the auditorium entrance where they will be health screened upon arrival.

Girls Basketball (Coach Mastine): Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (3:00-4:00pm) @ SHS GYM (NO WED/FRI PRACTICE THIS WEEK)

Nordic Skiing:  Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (3:15-4:15pm) @ Trapps CLICK HERE for more information

Follow SMHS Athletics on Twitter @StoweAthletics for the latest updates or visit our Athletics website!

Attendance on Remote Days:

We want to remind our 7th/8th grade families the importance of required remote attendance.

On 7th and 8th grade student’s remote days either Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday, they are required to attend the remote attendance check-in with Ms. Ellie via Google Meet anytime from 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM. Here is the link: tinyurl.com/SMSAttendance2020

Community Service Update:

In recent years there was a requirement for students to have 4 hours of community service each year. This year due to COVID-19, we are not encouraging this and it is no longer a requirement. However, if you do have hours to submit, please complete the SMS Community Service Google Form

→ Stowe Middle High School Counseling Team Invites You to: Live Webinar: Transforming Stress & Building Resilience with Dave Melnick, LICSW. Click here for the details! Part II: Thursday, February 18, 2021 @ 6:45pm-8:00pm

Schoology: The Parent View in Schoology presentation is designed to help families understand and navigate Schoology.  As always if you need support please call us at 253-6913.

Important Dates

2/22/21 – 3/2/21 – No School, Winter Break

Reminders

Advisory Program on Wednesdays: Will now be 9:15 AM. Advisory is a requirement for every student and where we take attendance. Click here for Wednesday’s schedule.

Morning Screening:  It is highly encouraged that families complete their own LSUU Health Screening form prior to approaching the building, we will take your temperature when you pull up.  This speeds up the screening process as a whole.  For the safety of our screeners please wear a face covering while dropping off students in the morning.

For the Community

Racial Equity Alliance of Lamoille (REAL) has started a BIPOC Affinity Space for youth and adults to develop a sense of self while living in a predominantly white state and country.

The United Way of Lamoille County maintains a comprehensive list of resources around the area: food, mental health, housing, employment, substance misuse and recovery, domestic violence, and much more.

Everyone Eats: Lamoille County Community Meal Schedule. Meals will resume being served January 25th through February 14th.

Virtual Monthly Parent Cafe Series

The Community Restorative Justice Center’s January Newsletter

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