OSUED Board Hears School Reopening Update

by Emmett Avery

HARDWICK – The board of the Orleans Southwest Union Elementary District (OSUED) met July 15 for a long and chaotic combined in-person/remote meeting.

Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union (OSSU) Superintendent Adam Rosenberg told the board he recently received additional guidance from the state on schools reopening. He said the new guidelines give the district flexibility to teach in a “hybrid model, where we have a combination of in-person, in-school instruction and at-home remote learning.”

Rosenberg said the administration is still working out specifics, but they are “hoping to be able to give some options and choice to families.” He said that according to state guidelines, adults and students will be required to wear masks during the school day. In response to a question from a board member about how schools will deal with truancy in the new pandemic-influenced world, Rosenberg said new state guidelines allow schools to count remote learning as attendance and that truancy “looks very different now.” The district, he said, “has certainly adapted to the situation.”

The board spent a short time working up a list of overarching goals for the next year. They included supporting the students and administration through the COVID-19 outbreak; supporting social and emotional learning growth, especially with COVID-19; and making sure all students of color feel heard, represented, and safe.

Katharine Ingram, chair of the OSUED board, said the board needed to be more specific about how it would pursue the last goal. This discussion will continue at next month’s meeting.

The board discussed its role within the school system; what it is tasked with vs. the administration’s and staff’s responsibilities, and how board members should interact. The board created a list of “norms” for how board members should behave and how meetings should be conducted, specifically dealing with issues that come up during remote meetings.

The board discussed various procedures, including how and what information board members receive before executive sessions. As part of this discussion, board member Kim Silk said, “The amount of times this OSSU has violated the Vermont Open Meeting Law is more than I have ever heard in the fifteen years.” Silk then clarified that he was talking about the OSSU more generally and that he had not seen any specific issues with the OSUED board’s compliance with open meeting law. Board member Rose Modry asked that information on open meeting law be sent around to all the board members so that everyone is on the same page.

Next month’s meeting, on August 5, will feature a discussion about campus reconfiguration, including the idea of merging the OSUED with Hazen, how the board can support children of color, and a COVID-19 and budget update.