Mill School, COVID-19, and Social Distancing
What is COVID-19?
(The following information is adapted from the CDC COVID-19 Website)
In COVID-19, 'CO' stands for 'corona,' 'VI' for 'virus,' and 'D' for disease. There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. The reason that everyone is being so careful about COVID-19 is that it is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Because of this, it is difficult to predict exactly how our bodies will react to this virus, although there is evidence that some people - especially those with pre-existing conditions - have had very severe reactions. This means that people with COVID-19 need to be evaluated and cared for differently than individuals with common coronavirus diagnosis and that we need to be cautious about how we all interact with each other until a safe approach to the virus is found.
Definition of Social Distancing:
Social distancing is a term applied to certain actions that are taken by Public Health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease – in this case COVID-19. Social distancing measures are taken to restrict when and where people can gather to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. Social distancing measures include limiting large groups of people coming together, keeping a safe distance from each other at all times, closing buildings and canceling events.
Applying the CDC guidelines for social distancing:
Due to concerns over widespread transmission across the United States the CDC recommends extensive community mitigation activities to support slowing the spread of respiratory virus infections. These approaches are used to minimize morbidity and mortality caused by COVID-19 and minimize social and economic impacts of COVID-19.
Our goal for using the recommended CDC mitigation strategies is to protect our staff and students and any individuals at risk for severe illness, including persons of any age with underlying health conditions including immune suppression. As educators we are considered part of the critical workforce so we need to assure that every member of our school community is safe and healthy so that we can continue to provide our students and families with the comprehensive education that they expect.
General implementation of the CDC social distancing guidelines:
We all share individual responsibility for our actions and interactions in the greater community and in our specific school community. This means that we need to make sure that we will practice personal protective measures and that we will also encourage our students and families to do the same.
Specific application of these guidelines to the Mill School community:
- All staff will remain in contact with the Program Director and Chief Knowledge Officer and follow any directives they make related to personal safety and COVID-19.
- Any individuals, staff and students included, at risk of severe illness (e.g., compromised immune systems, diabetes, heart conditions, asthma, cancer, autoimmune disease, etc.) will remain at home and out of direct contact with any member of the school community until the Vermont Department of Health determines that the risk of COVID-19 infection is resolved.
- All staff will monitor local information about COVID-19 in Vermont and follow any instructions regarding personal behaviors related to COVID-19 established by the Governor and Secretary of Education. Students and families will be encouraged to do the same via text and phone contact from school staff.
- All staff and students will interact with each other consistent with the Virtual School Program information provided on the Mill School website. This means assuring that interactions are done primarily through electronic means.
- All members of the school community will practice personal protective measures. This means:
- Staff will work from home and provide all school services from home. Students will receive educational services at home via the internet, text, and telephone.
- Staff will refrain from working in the school building. Students will not be allowed in the school building until the Vermont Secretary of Education lifts the COVID-19 school closure directive of March 18, 2020.
- Only staff who are included in the food delivery program and the Special Education teacher will be allowed in the school building. Should anyone else require access to anything in the building they will first contact the Program Director who will make arrangements to get any needed materials and make them available to the staff making the request.
- Should any of the approved staff members need to enter the building they will do so only after confirming that no one else is in the building and then they will leave the building as quickly as possible.
- Before leaving the building the staff member will wipe down all surfaces they have made contact with and then throw the disinfectant wipes used in the outdoor garbage bin.
- Should a staff member make contact with a student, guardian, or another staff person they will follow strict social distancing personal protection measures. This means:
- Staff will only deliver food bags or necessary educational equipment and services to students or family members and will not accept any materials from students or others in return
- At no time will any staff member have direct contact with another member of the school community in an enclosed space. This includes homes, public buildings, or any methods of conveyance.
- Any interaction with another member of the school community will take place in outside spaces and each individual will maintain 6 feet of separation at all times.
- After any contact with another member of the school community each individual will wash their hands as soon as possible after the contact.
Our Virtual School Plan
Students will no longer attend school in person beginning Tuesday, March 17th and will begin participating in our Virtual School on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020.
Click on items below to learn more.
Specific Virtual School services that we are making available to you:
- Access to the Internet. We have surveyed all of our students to assure that they have access to a stable internet connection. If you do not have access to the internet or Wi-Fi service at home you will be provided with a wireless hotspot device that will enable access to the internet and to our instruction and oversight.
- Internet-Enabled Chromebooks. Each student will be provided with a Mill School Chromebook with a microphone and video camera.
- Recording all Virtual classroom activities. All classes will be video and audio-taped and made available to students for review and future reference. This includes capturing images of your student, their activities while they are in the virtual classroom, and the room in which they are participating. Our purpose for recording classes is to assure that students have as much access as possible to educational materials; but please keep in mind that we will see and hear and record everything that happens in the virtual classroom.
Learning Methods used in the Virtual School:
- Asynchronous Learning. This is used to describe education, instruction, and learning that do not occur in the same place or at the same time. In our case, this means that all classes will be recorded and made available to students so they can review them at times outside of the school schedule.
- Synchronous Learning. This is used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that occur at the same time, but not in the same place. In our case, this means that we have developed a daily school schedule for students so they know when to sign-in for classes and participate in real time.
Computer applications that will be used by students and teachers:
All students will be provided with a Mill School Chromebook to take home. We will assure that each laptop and Chromebook has the following software enabled and functioning:
- Zoom. https://zoom.us/ Zoom will be used for real-time video meetings and classes for your student. The Zoom meetings will also be saved as video and shared on Google Classroom for any students who were unable to connect at the time of class or may need extra time to understand the course content. Zoom will be available free of charge to our staff and students.
- IXL. https://www.ixl.com/ IXL is a cloud-based computer program that will provide your student with a comprehensive curriculum in Math, Science, English Language Arts, and Social Studies. In addition, IXL allows for direct and synchronous monitoring by teachers of student engagement, attendance, and progress in each academic domain.
- Office 365. All Chromebooks and staff computers have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint so that any required daily documentation will be easily available to administrative and program staff.
- Google Classroom. https://classroom.google.com Google classroom is a cloud-based program that is easily accessed on all Chromebooks and computers. It is a way for school staff to organize classwork, create assignments, manage all coursework, and provide feedback to all students. In addition all staff members and students have a Gmail address that will provide an additional method of communicating and monitoring school activities.
Daily activities in place to assure your student has access to learning:
- Conducting Device Assessments. Each school day we will confirm that your student will have access to a stable Internet and an Internet-enabled device with a camera and a microphone by contacting them via text and through their Chromebook.
- Daily Morning Review of Connectivity. Each morning the school staff will participate in a Morning Meeting via Zoom to test technology, discuss issues related to meeting student needs, communicate concerns about student engagement and other issues, and review the daily plan.
- Lesson Plans. Our teachers will implement lesson plans with the same expectations as if the students were present in school.
- School Schedule. We will follow a three block academic schedule similar to the one that is currently in place. The only difference will be with student groupings; rather than several small instructional groups, all students will receive instruction in each academic area at the same time. This means we will provide single blocks of Humanities, Science and Math with all students present through their Chromebooks via Zoom. In addition, each class will be recorded via Zoom and made available to students as well. We have attached a copy of our weekly schedule to this letter.
- Attendance. Each staff member will use Zoom and IXL to take student attendance throughout the day. In addition, all non-academic interactions with the School Counselor and School Social Worker will be recorded for attendance.
Community expectations for students during the Virtual School day:
We will follow the same rules for students being ready for participation in classes that we use while in the school. If a student is not ready to participate in any given class that student will be provided feedback by the teacher or supporting staff person in the class. Should a student continue to be not ready to participate they will be removed from the class by the teacher through administrative control of Zoom (e.g., muted and video disabled but still monitored by school staff) until they demonstrate that they are ready to return to the classroom.
Communicating with staff:
All information about school activities, school schedule, and any other needed information will be sent to staff, students and families by email and text. In addition, guardians and students are encouraged to contact any staff member by phone or email to have any questions or concerns addressed as quickly as possible.
Contingency plan in the event that virtual services are unavailable:
In the event that we are unable to connect via Zoom (because it crashes or is overwhelmed and we cannot stay online) we will use asynchronous supports. This means that our teaching staff will use Google Classroom to deliver lesson plans to your student’s Google email and they will use IXL to demonstrate work attempted and completed. In addition, each day the teachers and other staff will make phone contact with your student during the scheduled class time in order to answer any questions and to address any needs.
We recognize that many of our students and families have difficulty managing the costs of meeting their daily nutritional needs. Unless you ask us not to, we will provide you with weekly food bag drop-offs that include perishable and non-perishable items sufficient to feed our student breakfast and lunch for a week. The day and time of the food delivery will be coordinated with you via text and the food bags will be left by a designed staff member at your front door.
Assuring Special Education and IEP needs are met:
- Each class will be organized and facilitated by a content area teacher who will be responsible for assuring that your student’s academic needs are met.
- An additional staff member will be present in the virtual classroom as a support to the content teachers to assure that IEP social and behavioral goals are met and to help address any individual student needs.
- Mike Miller, our Special Education Teacher will also participate in virtual classroom discussions each day to assure that academic needs are addressed and instruction is differentiated as needed. In addition, Mike will interact with each individual student several times to assure that all IEP goals are addressed as needed and will consult with teachers each day to assure IEP goals are met.
- Chris Cenci, our School Clinician and Rachel Coyle, our School Social Worker will provide required counseling supports to your student and will be present in virtual classrooms at various points of the day. In addition, either Chris or Rachel will be in contact with you each day to provide you with support as you need it.
- Mike Miller will keep a daily log of special education services provided to each student.
Additional Web-Base Resources to Help Get Us All Through this Time
Reliable Newspaper and News Sites:
These sites will help you understand what’s happening locally, nationally, and internationally. Read them and talk with us about what you’ve learned – and get credit!
VTDigger: Vermont news by Vermonters. Gives a local of perspective on all the happenings in the world in an easy to read format https://vtdigger.org
The New York Times: The “paper of record” for national and international events that impact our daily lives. https://www.nytimes.com/
The Boston Globe: The largest New England newspaper. Gives a very New England view of the goings on in the world. https://www.bostonglobe.com/
Great Podcasts Filled with Interesting Information:
Listen to any of these and talk to us about the information and themes you learned – and get credit for doing it!
America Dissected: Learn about our healthcare system and how it affects you and some great information about COVID-19 https://crooked.com/podcast-series/america-dissected/
Cautionary Tales: Stories about the best laid plans that ended up in spectacular failure! http://timharford.com/articles/cautionarytales/
History that Doesn’t Suck: Stories from the revolutionary times to the Civil War and reconstruction (with lots of stories about battles) https://www.historythatdoesntsuck.com/
Invisibilia: Great and relatable stories about what it means to be human and how people cope with all kinds of things https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510307/invisibilia
Mobituaries with Mo Rocca: Stories about people who had a big influence on history that have pretty much been forgotten, told with a sense of humor https://www.mobituaries.com/the-podcast/
Radiolab: Greatest podcast ever. Science. Psychology. Weird things. Fun. Funny. Brilliant! https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab
Revisionist History: You think you know how things happened? You’re probably wrong. http://revisionisthistory.com/
Slow Burn (especially the Tupac – Biggie Smalls story!): Stories about Watergate (a big deal in the 70’s), the Impeachment of Bill Clinton, and the beef between Biggie and Tupac. https://slate.com/podcasts/slow-burn/
Snap Judgement: Fun stories about everyday people who are often confronted with unusual circumstances. And a whole bunch of spooky stories, too! https://www.npr.org/podcasts/449018144/snap-judgment
This American Life: The second best podcast of all time! https://www.thisamericanlife.org/
The Daily: A NY Times daily podcast about the big stories happening in everyday. https://www.nytimes.com/column/the-daily
Ted Talks: You want to learn about just about anything. TedTalks has a very listenable talk for you! https://www.ted.com/podcasts
Web resources for STEM:
These sites might be useful to help you figure out what you’re supposed to be learning in Science and Math class (and if you show us your work – you get credit!)
Purple Math: https://www.purplemath.com/
Colorado Math Help https://phet.colorado.edu/
Virtual Nerd https://www.virtualnerd.com/
Dr. Jim Al-Kalili Science Documentaries: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBThhL8p7Ifk7ZvlLwiA_4eGDIylVEMac
Staff and Teacher Contact Information
|Staff Name||Job Title||School Phone#||Email Address|
|Abby Garland||Program Managerfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Amie Francoeur||Science Teacheremail@example.com|
|Chris Cenci||School Clinicianfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Hannah McDonald||Assistant Teacheremail@example.com|
|Jess Moos||Humanities Teacherfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Joe Golden||Math Teacheremail@example.com|
|Katie Dew||Transition Coord.||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Mike Miller||Special Ed Teacheremail@example.com|
|Rachel Coyle||Social Workerfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Sarah Fisher Snow||School Directoremail@example.com|
Mill School Virtual School Daily Schedule
|8:00am-8:30am||Morning Staff Meeting||Morning Staff Meeting||Morning Staff Meeting||Morning Staff Meeting||Morning Staff Meeting|
|8:30am-9:00am||Staff Prep Start Zoom Meeting and update Google Classroom||Staff Prep Start Zoom Meeting and update Google Classroom||Staff Prep Start Zoom Meeting and update Google Classroom||Staff Prep- Start Zoom Meeting and update Google Classroom||Staff Prep Start Zoom Meeting and update Google Classroom|
|9:00am-10:00am||Science Lead Teacher: Amie Special Ed Support: Abby Special Educator: Mike||Science Lead Teacher: Amie Special Ed Support: Abby||Science Lead Teacher: Amie Special Ed Support: Abby Special Educator: Mike||Science Lead Teacher: Amie Special Ed Support: Abby||Science Lead Teacher: Amie Special Ed Support: Abby|
|10:00am-11:00am||Humanities Lead Teacher: Jess Special Ed Support: Katie||Humanities Lead Teacher: Jess Special Ed Support: Katie Special Educator: Mike||Humanities Lead Teacher: Jess Special Ed Support: Katie||Humanities Lead Teacher: Jess Special Ed Support: Katie Special Educator: Mike||Humanities Lead Teacher: Jess Special Ed Support: Katie|
|11:00am-12:00pm||Math Lead Teacher: Joe Special Ed Support: Hannah Special Educator: Mike||Math Lead Teacher: Joe Special Ed Support: Hannah||Math Lead Teacher: Joe Special Ed Support: Hannah||Math Lead Teacher: Joe Special Ed Support: Hannah||Math Lead Teacher: Joe Special Ed Support: Hannah Special Educator: Mike|
|12:00pm- 1:00pm||Lunch delivered at the beginning of the week to students’ front doors||Lunch delivered at the beginning of the week to students’ front doors||Lunch delivered at the beginning of the week to students’ front doors||Lunch delivered at the beginning of the week to students’ front doors||Lunch delivered at the beginning of the week to students’ front doors|
|1:00pm-2:00pm||Staff check in with advisees to review the day||Staff check in with advisees to review the day||Staff check in with advisees to review the day||Staff check in with advisees to review the day||Staff check in with advisees to review the day|
|2:30pm-3:00pm||Afternoon Staff Meeting Advisee updates||Afternoon Staff Meeting Special Ed||Afternoon Staff Meeting Wonderment Wednesday||Afternoon Staff Meeting Pedagogy / Clinical||Afternoon Staff Meeting Planning for Next week|
|Ongoing||Chris (School Clinician) and Rachel (Social Worker) checking in with every student and caregiver on their caseload daily Sarah (School Director) checking in with staff and joining classes|