School Dismissed as a Precaution against COVID-19

March 13, 2020

To help protect our community from undetected cases of novel coronavirus and to help stem the rise of new cases in the region, Southshire Community School has dismissed school, effective end of Friday, March 13, and will remain dismissed for a period of at least three weeks. During this time, students and teachers will transition to distance learning. The school building will remain open for teachers to plan and prepare lessons, but closed to students.

This is a precautionary decision. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Southshire Community School, there are no suspected cases, and there is no known exposure to the virus at this time.

We are closely monitoring conditions in the broader community, and we will continue to review guidance from the Vermont Department of Health and Agency of Education. If the spread of COVID-19 remains stable over the next few weeks—and does not show the dramatic case growth that has overburdened healthcare systems in other parts of the world after the initial introduction of the virus—then we will consider resuming school on-premise.

This is a proactive decision, informed by studies that show the benefits of social distancing during epidemics, and propelled by an abundance of care for the school community and our wider, shared community. The chart above helps illustrate the effect of proactive social distancing vs reactive social distancing by looking at mortality rates in two American cities during the 1918 flu epidemic.

Southshire families come from across the tri-state region, including Bennington, North Bennington, and Manchester, VT; Williamstown, MA; as well as Salem and Cambridge, NY. Many parents are active in their respective communities. Together this creates a diverse network and provides many points of possible exposure. Dismissing school now shrinks this network down immediately.

We know school dismissal will be incredibly disruptive to everyone: students, teachers, and parents alike. We remain in conversation with our families and are developing a network of communication for parents, as well as distance learning plans. We encourage parents to contact teachers directly with any questions, concerns, or ideas. Teachers are eager to find news ways to support the community during this unprecedented time. We will send more formal planning information next Wednesday, March 18.

Thank you for your patience as we navigate this stressful and disruptive moment related to COVID-19, and may everyone take care.

All media inquiries can be directed to Southshire Community School Board Member Chris Callahan,