September 27, 2020
Dear LTS Families,
Saturday afternoon brought the exhilarating sounds of our LTS student-athletes competing in boys varsity soccer against Twin Valley. We can now offer interscholastic sports because the Agency of Education and the Department of Health have elevated the latitude afforded to Vermont schools from Step II to Step III. The agencies cited overall conditions in our State and the success of schools in carrying out health directives. In so doing, the agencies delivered a telling caution:
“In terms of school operations, Step III should not be viewed as a relaxing of the necessary mitigation strategies schools need to follow. All of the basic, critical mitigation strategies such as staying home when you are sick, completing the daily health check, wearing a facial covering, physical distancing when feasible and washing hands frequently remain in place and must be followed.”
LTS is now poised to move from A/B Days to welcoming all students who have elected in-person instruction. We will inaugurate this changeover on Tuesday, September 29. Long Trail will have a Head’s Holiday for students tomorrow when we will provide advanced technology training for our faculty.
As I discussed in my message of September 16, both academic and social-emotional learning at LTS are cooperative and socially interdependent. A full class complement makes for rich class discussions and valuable collaborative projects. These benefits will accumulate and reverberate even if we later need to pivot into a different instructional configuration. We will always invoke our best judgment in consideration of all the facts and circumstances to foster a safe, effective, and engaging learning experience for students and faculty.
To the best of our information and belief, the latest guidance from the relevant agencies and prevailing best practices support our current course of action. We note with relief that initial data compiled by Brown University shows little evidence so far of COVID-19 transferring inside K-12 school buildings. We invite you to visit Brown’s data dashboard and a nicely balanced analysis from the Washington Post.
Whether this transition succeeds is up to you. For example, all on-campus students will review and practice walking in the hallways between classes with appropriate distancing – even if we look like the Ministry of Silly Walks!
Think of driving on a road with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour. You have been going at 15 miles per hour and now increase your speed to 30 miles per hour. You are still under the speed limit and taking reasonable risks. The prospect of an accident jumped most when you left your home and started your car. There are substantial downsides, however, to staying home. But whether at 15 or 30 miles per hour, you must still wear a seatbelt, not text, and observe road and travel conditions. Similarly, all students and families who come on campus for any reason (e.g., classes, sports, events) must sign and comply with the LTS Health Pledge. Though we cannot eliminate the COVID-19 risk, we can reduce the risk if – and only if – everyone goes all in to keep our communal Health Pledge and fulfill our mutual conduct expectations.
Thank you, as always, for your continuing trust. Please let us know how we are doing at Opening2020@longtrailschool.
Stay safe, kind, and hopeful,
/s/ Seth Linfield
Head of School