Coronavirus Updates, March 4-15

Coronavirus Updates, March 4-15

Head of School Carrie Brennan shared the following information with the TA parent, student, and employee email lists between March 4-15 …

March 15, 2020

Dear TA Students, Parents and Guardians,
Vermont Governor Phil Scott declared this afternoon that Vermont schools must close their campuses as of Wednesday 3/18 and continue educational services to students remotely. This directive is for March 18 through April 6. A link to the press release is below.*

Here are the plans as they relate to Thetford Academy:

  • Tomorrow, Monday 3/16 will be a staff planning day. Classes for students are cancelled.
  • We will hold school on Tuesday 3/17 in order to have a final prep and planning day with students. We will maintain our regular start and end times for the day and the normal bus routes will run.
  • As I understand it, Thetford Elementary School will also be in session on Tuesday 3/17 along with all other schools in the Orange East Supervisory Union, including Riverbend Technical Center.
  • In order to effectively implement remote learning at TA, we need all TA households to complete this survey regarding online resources: https://forms.gle/SHK3tUaw5fzT17x27
  • Please take a moment now to complete the above survey if your family has not yet done so.

We have decided to hold school on Tuesday, because we think it will be very helpful to hold final in-person sessions with students in classes and advisory before we all disperse and move to remote/online interactions. We recognize, however, that some families might opt to keep their children at home on that day. This is a family decision and we will honor it as such.

* Link to Governor Scott’s press release: https://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/files/documents/exe-press-release-gov-scott-to-direct-orderly-dismissal-of-schools.pdf

Thank you so much for your patience and flexibility. We are all dealing with an unprecedented situation throughout our community and society at large. As a school, we are working hard to stay informed, stay agile in response to the fast-moving nature of the health crisis and public health requirements, and communicate with families.

And our next immense challenge – which we are ready to embrace! – is to transform our school into a remote environment where rich teaching and learning experiences are happening in new ways – and not on campus together.

More to come. Stay tuned and be well.

Carrie Brennan, Head of School


March 13, 2020

Dear TA Families,

Here is the latest update regarding our actions at TA in light of the public health concerns and the impacts of the coronavirus in the New England region:

  • We will be cancelling classes at TA on Monday, March 16.
  • The school plan for next week therefore is to have no classes on Monday 3/16 and no classes on Friday 3/20 (as planned as an inservice day in the annual calendar).
  • Reducing to a 3-day week next week will give faculty, staff, and admin time to prepare for a remote learning approach should it be necessary in the coming weeks.
  • The 3-day week will also provide more time for custodial crews to work on cleaning and disinfecting processes we already have in place – and less use and reduced #s of people using the buildings.
  • We are taking this approach for next week as a cautionary and preparatory step. We are not doing it in response to any specific health concern at our school.

Additional updates for our TA community:

  • We are collaborating closely with Thetford Elementary School. We are also in communication with school leaders in Lyme and Strafford and the OESU supervisory union.
  • We are carefully tracking the rapidly evolving public health responses to the coronavirus in communities throughout the U.S., with an eye toward school activities.
  • Specifically, we are receiving guidance daily from the VT departments of health and education. We are also paying attention to NH guidance and the Upper Valley regional/bi-state context.
  • We are told that the Vermont governor will be holding a press conference this evening regarding public health concerns and actions in our state. Along with school leaders throughout the state of Vermont, we will be listening for further guidance.

What we need from you:

  • Parents and students alike – please take this survey to help us gauge family resources for remote learning. The information collected is for planning purposes only. It is ok if more than one person from your household takes the survey: https://forms.gle/tHMZq8uhdmjiPYBf6
  • Please stay connected with communications from TA and know that we will do our best to keep you informed.
  • Consult CDC and VT Dept of Health guidance on how to keep yourself and your family members healthy and the resources available in the event of illness. https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/2019-novel-coronavirus

Impacts on other school activities:

  • The multi-day student trips planned in April – to NYC and to Quebec – are postponed. The trip leaders are hoping to be able to reschedule these for later in the spring. We will keep students and families posted on updates regarding this possibility.
  • Tonight’s One Act play performance will be held in the MJR Theater. Next week’s performance is closed to the public.
  • The girls state basketball championships have been cancelled. We are all so proud of our girls’ team and share their disappointment in this abrupt end to a stellar season.
  • The winter athletics banquet is cancelled.
  • Please use the TA Today page and/or the TA app to stay updated on the status of school events: https://www.thetfordacademy.org/category/ta-today/

Prior communications and staying connected:

  • My weekly email on March 4 provided our initial communications regarding COVID-19 at TA; an excerpt of it is quoted below for your reference, as the info and resources continue to be accurate and relevant. 
  • We will also post all email messages sent to the TA community regarding the current health crisis and its impacts on the TA Today page at this link: https://www.thetfordacademy.org/2020/03/ta-updates-regarding-coronavirus/

Thank you for your careful attention to the information provided in this email and your cooperation with us as we navigate the unprecedented situation we are in. We want to do what’s best for our students and families and our entire TA community.


March 4, 2020

Dear TA Families,

We have a safety and emergency preparedness committee at TA that meets regularly during the school year. The committee includes representation from TA leadership in the areas of facilities management, student life, athletics, and the health office; committee members also include Mike Evans and Mariah Whitcomb, representing Thetford’s emergency management and police departments. This committee is taking the lead on developing TA’s plan for COVID-19 communications and preparation. 

We are also guided by resources from the Vermont Agency of Education, which is sending regular communications to schools, such as this recent memoHere is an excerpt from the memo to highlight key recommendations we can all take:

It is important to note that at this point, Vermont residents are much more likely to become sick with a cold or the flu than to be exposed to COVID-19. Many of the precautions that help prevent other respiratory diseases, like colds and the flu, can also help keep an illness like COVID-19 from spreading: 

  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve or a tissue. 
  • Throw the tissue in the trash. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

Sue Farrell as our school nurse is the point person for families regarding individual cases of illness and is also an important resource for the TA community. Look for Sue’s monthly health office newsletter with additional reminders, tips, and links for staying healthy and informed. Sue can be reached at sue.farrell@thet.net and 785-4805 x226.

Regarding the overnight school trips in April, we are monitoring the situation closely and in coordination with the various trip companies. Currently, there are no plans to cancel or postpone these trips (none of which include intercontinental travel). We will be in communication with the students and families involved to provide updates as needed. 

For questions pertaining to our school-wide efforts related to COVID-19 planning and prevention, I can be reached at carrie.brennan@thet.net, 785-4805 x211.

Thank you,

Carrie Brennan, Head of School