Dear Parents/Guardians

As I write this email newsletter, I am reminded that a year ago I was battling COVID and continued to do so for the next 7 weeks. I do not recommend it. I could not breathe, the fatigue was incredible, and the fear was great. I am grateful that today I am well, with few lingering effects (I still cannot smell). I am lucky.

However, our community continues to experience COVID in our schools on nearly a daily basis. I hear from parents who want to know when this will be over. I do not have that answer; no one does. Vaccinations are said to get us to a place where we can live with it. However, we are not there now. And we continue to have to close down classes or send students home for being a close contact. I know it is tiring. I know it is disruptive. I have heard from teachers who say they feel incredibly guilty when this happens, as they work hard to follow mitigation measures in the classroom. But the schools are not in a bubble. We cannot completely stop community spread inside the school walls. Over 90% of our staff are vaccinated, yet vaccinated still get sick. 

Our biggest concerns are both keeping kids in school and keeping our community safe. The two goals do not always align. When we have a positive case, we are required to identify close contacts as defined by the VT Dept of Health. This may lead to a classroom closing or students being sent home. When a child arrives at school coughing or with a headache, we call the parents and send the child home to be tested. We offer PCR tests in school on Wednesdays, and are ordering take home kits to give to parents as well. Just this week, we started Test to Stay as an option instead of quarantining and missing school.

We are doing all we can to keep kids in school and to keep our community healthy. But we need your help. We know you are frustrated and tired of this pandemic.  We are too!  Our teachers, nurses and staff are all facing the same frustrations and exhaustion this pandemic has created.  Please understand that we are all in this together and can get through it with continued compassion and support. Our choices are clear and often are mandated by the state. Please work with us and we will continue to do all we can to keep our community healthy. Information on the testing choices and the upcoming vaccination clinic at Neshobe are below. 

This email covers

  • Opportunity to Participate in Equity Audit Focus Group Dec. 6

  • Virtual Academy for 2nd Semester Enrollment Dec. 22

  • Testing Options Including Test to Stay

  • Vaccination Updates and Clinics

  • Dec and February Break Calendar Clarification

  • School Board Meetings and Board Openings

Opportunity to Participate in Equity Audit Focus Group

You are invited to participate in a focus group on December 6th at 5:00-7:00pm. The focus groups are part of a study being conducted by the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium (MAEC) to understand how RNESU can support a learning environment focused on  safety, belonging, and equitable access to high-quality instruction and supports across our district. 

The focus group with Parents/Community will be held virtually and will last approximately 90 minutes. The focus groups will be led by MAEC facilitators. MAEC will keep your feedback and thoughts strictly confidential and anonymous. If you are willing to participate, please email

Virtual Academy 2nd Semester Enrollment Deadline Dec. 22

Applications for Virtual Academy are now open for the second semester! If you are interested in having your student(s) enrolled from January-June, please visit the RNESU website to access the mandatory recordings and application. Please note that applications are due by December 22nd. This is a pilot program for the 2021-2022 school year only. 

 Testing Options Including Test to Stay

Schools are now prepared to offer Test to Stay as an option if we have capacity to meet need when a positive contact is identified in a school. This means that if a student is identified as a close contact, is unvaccinated and has no symptoms, instead of quarantining they may be able to take a rapid antigen test at school every morning for seven days with parental consent and remain in school as long as results are negative! This will help us to reduce the number of times a student must learn remotely during a quarantine. 

In order to access this program, we need to have no more than a class or two affected at one time (we are limited in capacity in how many we can test at once) AND must have parent consent for the test AND have parental agreement to either stay with their child when tested or return to pick them up if their test is positive. 

 In order to give parental consent for this program, please fill out this form. We cannot use the tests on your child without it and your child will need to quarantine as they do now. Please give consent on BOTH forms:

VT AOE COVID Response Testing Consent Form

 School Based Consent

 Please note: we can only use antigen tests for unvaccinated asymptomatic children and adults who were identified as close contacts. It will not be used on vaccinated people or those who have had COVID in the past few months, as it is not as effective and we do not have an unlimited supply. Anyone with symptoms, vaccinated or not, needs to stay home and take a PCR test.

Vaccination Updates and Clinics

Students ages 5-11 are now eligible for a vaccine. Ages 5-11 will get an age appropriate dose of the vaccine. The VT Department of Health web page is full of resources for parents about the vaccine. Local pediatricians are also ready to answer questions and help parents with their decisions and can even give the shots. 

VDH has chosen two of our schools to hold vaccination clinics, thus far: Neshobe and Leicester (OCA). Although we were first told these clinics would be closed just for our families, the state has opened registration to the public and slots are limited. Please use the state registration website VDH COVID-19 portal  to register or call the Dept of Health 855-722-7878, Mon - Fri 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Sat and Sun 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. to register and give consent or if you have problems with registration. We cannot register students ourselves as parents must give consent. 

School Clinic dates:

  • OCA at Leicester School second dose clinic scheduled for Dec 9

  • Neshobe School Dec. 14 (with the second dose scheduled for Jan. 4)


Dec and February Vacation Dates Confirmed

 Here is the link to the full district calendar as released last year.

  • Dec break begins on Dec. 23

  • The correct February vacation is the week of Feb. 21.Magnetic calendars distributed to staff at the start of the school year indicated Feb 14. That was an error. We apologize this was not caught earlier! 

School Board Meetings and Board Openings

In August, Board meetings returned to in-person meetings with a zoom option for those who wish to attend virtually. Meeting information can be found on the district calendar or on the district website,,  

Current School Board meetings are largely focused on developing the budget for next school year. Attend or watch on Peg TV!

  • RNESU Board meets Dec. 15, 5 pm at OCA/ Leicester Central School and online

  • OVUU Board meets Dec 15,  6 pm at OCA/ Leicester Central School and online

  • BUU Board meets Dec 20, 6 pm at Barstow School and online

Interested in serving on a school board? Go to the school board page on to learn what seats are open and to get a petition.

Be well. 

Jeanné Collins, Superintendent of RNESU

School Safety Hotline # (844) 723-3488 or or text to 274637, type in keyword SAFE4VT and then your tip