DECEMBER 4: Community Update - Correspondence to Families

Paul Amadio, Head of School & our VVS Leadership Team
Dear VVS Families,

I hope this correspondence finds you all healthy and safe. 

Exams are officially over, and Project Period has begun. We are heading for the homestretch. We have made it this far, while so many schools have not. While we can’t change what is, we sure can control how we respond to this adversity. We are VVS, and as I often say, at VVS, we know how to get through things with grit, determination, and resiliency. So far, so good. Knock on wood! 

Our students have gone above and beyond to comply with the protocols in place. Collectively, they brought hard work, creative problem-solving, and laughter to us all. THANK YOU, STUDENTS. One parent said to me over the weekend, “My child moaned the first three weeks about wearing a mask - I don’t hear that now - all I hear is “I went rock climbing, I played Dodgeball Dance Party, I packed meals for Weekend Meal packs for the hungry, and now I can’t wait for Project Period.” How many high school students in the country can go rock climbing or mountain biking during a pandemic? VVS students can. While our student actions are paramount to our success, it takes a talented group of adults to make it work. Our multi-talented staff has made it possible for our students to have received all that we could have imagined and more. In a world of darkness, the VVS staff shines bright. THANK YOU, STAFF. Families, I would be remiss not to offer my gratitude to all of you for your trust and partnership in us to educate and care for your child. We take that responsibility seriously. THANK YOU, FAMILIES!

While we miss seeing our day students on campus, I congratulate all of your children currently enrolled in the virtual program. We have witnessed high student engagement, and I look forward to seeing their Purpose Projects next week. I am so glad that so many local families took advantage of boarding this semester. Over half of our day students spent their first semester with us, and the rumor is many will return to campus for the second semester. A reminder that for this academic year, VVS invites all local students to board. We still have a few spaces for January. Please contact Kim Hollingsworth, Director of Enrollment Management, for more information, khollingswoth@vvsaz.org. She will be sending out a survey in the first week of January for families to indicate if they plan to participate in the temporary boarding program. The survey will go out to all day families.

As we all prepare for our break, I wanted to share our January reopening plan and schedule below. As we consider what is best for our community, we will continue to put our students’ and staffs’ health and safety first. We will provide updates and information as necessary.  But let me be clear - we plan to open our campus for students in January.

Health Center Notes
During Winter Break, we ask that you and your family work to build healthy habits before your child’s return to school. We request that students wear masks while in closed, public spaces; maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others; monitor their health and that of their family members, and wash their hands regularly. We ask that all students strictly follow these guidelines for at least 14 days before returning to campus to minimize infection risk before arrival. 

If your child is exposed or becomes ill with COVID 19 over break:
Please have your child tested and follow isolation guidelines from the CDC.  Please retain documentation of your child’s positive COVID test.  Per CDC guidelines, a person may return to school or work once symptoms have resolved and the mandatory isolation period completed.  Please reach out to Julie Pompos, Health Center Director, if your child contracts COVID-19 over the break. 

Testing before return
Students and staff must have a PCR test within five days of their return to campus.  Students and staff are expected to quarantine before their arrival on campus.   Please send a copy of these test results to Julie Pompos, our Director of Health Services, at jpompos@vvsaz.org before your child’s trip back to campus.  

Student Arrivals
We are still planning for a student arrival date of Wednesday, January 13th.  While we do not anticipate any changes to this date, as with last semester, we discourage families from purchasing non-refundable tickets in the event that we are forced to delay our start.

Observation/Quarantine
When students return to campus, they will again be required to take part in an observation period upon arrival and will attend classes virtually during this phase.  Once students have been re-tested and results have been confirmed, we will begin in-person instruction again. 

The following protocols and policies are established to support the School’s efforts to maintain a safe and healthy campus environment:

  • Physical Distancing - Maintain six feet between students and others when possible
  • Wearing masks or face coverings - While in class and public areas, community members will wear a cloth face covering or disposable surgical mask.  Buffs, gators, face shields, and valved masks are not approved facial coverings at VVS as they do not confer the same level of protection. 
  • Hand washing and sanitizing - Frequently throughout the day and upon return to living quarters
  • Testing - Students and staff will be subject to periodic COVID testing
  • Screening - Students and staff will be subject to periodic screening protocols
  • Symptom Monitoring and Reporting - Students and staff must self-monitor their health condition and report any COVID-19 symptoms
  • Isolation and Quarantine - Students who test positive for COVID-19, are symptomatic, or were in contact with those who test positive for COVID-19 may be subject to isolation and quarantine. Additionally, families or guardians may be required to travel to Verde Valley School to provide care for your child off-campus. 

Our protocols will be updated from time to time based on evolving guidance and directives from our state’s Public Health Department and the CDC. We will notify you with updates as soon as we have them. 

It is my sincere hope that all VVS families, alumni, and friends are well and healthy. As the grim COVID news continues around the country, our community is fully engaged in Project Period with 19 projects going on morning and afternoon. We are all so fortunate for this campus and its location. We can hike, bike, and enjoy the beauty around us by being outside. My heart goes out to families living in spaces and places where that is not possible. Lucky us!

This week, VVS was featured in Essential Sedona Magazine. This seasonal magazine is intended for hotels and tourist destinations in Sedona. It is a terrific article and special thanks to Vanessa Trujillo Tenbrink from the Advancement Office for making this happen.

I hope that you all stay safe and enjoy the next few weeks. While this year will be different, I’ll count my blessings that we have a community that comes together and does extraordinary things in education. The world needs VVS now more than ever, and we need all of you to help keep our campus open. VVS centers around our belief that each of our actions will impact the entire community. As you enjoy the break with your child, please remind them of that responsibility, so we can safely enjoy being together in person very soon.


Best to all of you,

Paul

Paul Amadio
Head of School 
Verde Valley School
3511 Verde Valley School Road
Sedona, AZ 86351
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Verde Valley School is a co-educational, International Baccalaureate boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12.
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