With the health and safety of our globally interconnected community as our guiding principle, GMVS has closed its campus classrooms and has transitioned to a remote learning model for the remainder of the spring.
Classes and ski groups are meeting via Zoom, students are competing with one another via Strava, and they are connecting with each other a well as with their coaches, their advisors, and their teachers. Teachers and coaches are being creative and innovative within the remote framework, discovering and developing new tools that will further enhance the GMVS experience far beyond the COVID landscape.
Updates From Campus
April 29, 2020
April 1, 2020
COVID-19 Communications to the Community
April 24th -- General Update & FAQs
Dear GMVS Families,
Despite its oft elusive nature (at least in Vermont), spring is a time of hope and rebirth, and a reminder of life’s resiliency. Even in the midst of the uncertainties of our current reality, I am heartened by the ingenuity, grit, and spirit demonstrated by the entire GMVS community. We too are resilient, and I look forward to the season when we can all enjoy the company and camaraderie of our vibrant community on campus once again.
As a ski academy accustomed to managing distance learning on a regular basis, we were well positioned to make a quick shift to schoolwide remote learning. Yet, the work that we’ve done (both academically and athletically) over the past six weeks has far exceeded my expectations — a testament to the creativity and flexibility of our teachers and coaches, as well as the commitment of our student-athletes. Each day we are finding silver linings in an extremely difficult situation, and we’re discovering pedagogical and operational models that will further enhance the GMVS experience going forward. It’s clear that the GMVS experience extends far beyond the walls and fields of our campus on Moulton Road.
Now that the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year is just a month away, I want to provide some updates regarding the end of this school year as well as how we’re thinking about next year and next season. Please see the FAQs below. While there is obviously uncertainty as to how the coming months will unfold, I am confident that as a community we will navigate it successfully. This is what GMVS does best.
In closing, I want to thank you for the support and care you’ve shown us over the past six weeks. That alone is a testament to the strength of the GMVS community. I know that we will confront these challenges with the grit, optimism, and compassion that has always fueled the GMVS community.
For now, be safe, stay healthy, and do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
Head of School
How Will This School Year End?
We continue to finalize plans to meaningfully celebrate the 2019-2020 school year (the 47th version of GMVS) and the Class of 2020 in a virtual setting. Academic Director Kerry Jackson and her team are putting the finishing touches on the schedule for our final week of school that will include a 2019-2020 closing assembly on Friday, May 22nd (time TBD).
What About Graduation?
We sympathize with the extreme feelings of loss felt by the Class of 2020 and we are committed to honoring the GMVS Class of 2020 while adhering to the school’s commencement traditions. As a result, we are planning to host two senior celebrations: a virtual commencement on Saturday, May 30th to publicly honor the Class of 2020 and one in-person, on-campus celebration at a later date when we can all safely and properly come together in celebration of their accomplishments.
What About Next Fall?
Our goal is to deliver the GMVS experience on campus this coming fall. Yet, we acknowledge that achieving this goal will depend on the course and the longer term effects of the pandemic. We remain attentive to emerging data on disease progression and modeling as well as federal and state recommendations to help guide us going forward, and decisions will be made with the wellbeing of students, our campus community, and the impact on public health top of mind.
At the same time, we are exploring a number of different scenarios for next year, including relatively normal on-campus operations, the continuation of remote operations, and a few hybrid models. We do know that GMVS will open the 2020-2021 school year in late August as scheduled. Regardless of how we open we’ll have learned much from our approach this spring, and the GMVS experience will be forever enhanced due to the circumstances in which we’re now operating.
We are concurrently developing plans and procedures for the opening of campus designed to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.
When Will We Ski Again?
We are hopeful that we’ll be able to kick off the 2020-2021 ski season with some out-of-season skiing before our planned Colorado camp in November. Given the current state of the world, when and where that may occur remains unpredictable. However, we’re exploring a variety of options and identifying possible venues (from Chile to the glaciers of Europe) for each month between now and November. We will remain flexible and nimble in our planning efforts, and we are prepared to adjust our summer and/or fall schedules in order to provide our student-athletes with the best available training opportunities when they become available.
It’s likely that we will have to move at a moment’s notice once we determine that we can safely and effectively run on-snow camps. In preparation for that moment, we encourage you to do everything in your power to be ready for the ski season to begin. Get fit, procure and prepare your equipment, and begin to discuss (as a family) under what circumstances you’ll feel comfortable traveling with GMVS staff and coaches.
Will Boarding Families Be Issued a Partial Refund for Room and Board?
Yes. Although the vast majority of GMVS’s cost structure is fixed, and the bulk of our annual expenses were paid prior to our campus closure, we feel it is fair and in keeping with the GMVS mission to provide families a partial room and board refund. Boarding families have three options: to receive a refund, to receive a credit on next year’s bill, or make a gift of the amount to GMVS.
In an effort to support our dedicated teachers, coaches, and staff as well as the nation’s struggling economy, GMVS has made a commitment to continue paying the vast majority of our employees for their regularly scheduled hours through the end of the school year. As we all confront the current health crisis, we want to do whatever we can to minimize the compounding financial crisis for our employees.
March 31 -- General Update
Dear GMVS Families,
As I walked across our quiet, empty campus this morning, all I could think about was what should have been happening. I imagined our final assembly of the winter – full of positive energy, anticipation, and the requisite April Fool’s jokes. I imagined small groups of students tossing around lacrosse balls on the recently melted fields, basking in the sunshine as the clouds gave way to blue skies. I imagined the collective optimism and enthusiasm that arrives on our campus each spring.
With campus prematurely empty and nobody fleeing to warmer climates for restorative two-week breaks, it’s hard for us to imagine the light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, spring will indeed come and we must remain optimistic about our future. Just as we’ve weathered Vermont’s harsh winters, we’ll weather this storm too.
Given the reality that we’ll be in a remote operational model through the end of the school year, we’ve been actively working on new ways to deliver the GMVS experience virtually. In the last two weeks, we’ve developed a better understanding of what teachers and coaches are creating and supporting, what students are being asked to do, and what is sustainable for students, faculty, and families over a longer arc of time, in an environment of uncertainty and social isolation.
In an effort to provide students and staff with a much needed opportunity for restoration and rejuvenation, we will be going on Spring Break as scheduled beginning this Saturday, April 4<sup>th</sup>; however, we will be reducing the length of break by one week, and we’ll resume remote operations on Monday, April 13<sup>th</sup>. Our 2<sup>nd</sup> iteration of “Virtual GMVS” will run from Monday, April 13<sup>th</sup> through Friday, May 22<sup>nd</sup> at which time we will end the 2019-2020 school year.
In the coming days, we’ll also be making shifts in the configuration of our daily and weekly schedule in ways that we hope will balance the need for continuity and routine in the lives of our students. While the academic schedule will remain similar to how we’ve operated in the last two weeks, we aim to add additional structure and consistency around our athletic and student life programming. Modifications to our daily and weekly schedules are being worked on now, and we should be able to share the new schedule with you by the middle of next week.
Like many colleges, universities, and other independent schools, we have considered shifting 4<sup>th</sup>quarter grades to pass/fail in lieu of our normal letter grades. After careful consideration, we have decided to continue with our grading practices as usual. We feel strongly that we’re delivering an engaging and relevant curriculum, and that we can maintain the integrity of our grades even in light of our community operating from all corners of the globe.
Many of you are interested in learning more about our year end festivities as well as when and how students will move out of the dormitories. Although it remains possible we will be able to return to campus as a community toward the end of May, the reality is that social distancing measures may continue into the early part of the summer. As a result, we are considering alternate ways to commemorate the 2019-2020 school year and are actively working with members of the senior class to reimagine their graduation. Likewise, we will put the wheels in motion for dormitory moveout once social distancing and/or stay home measures are lessened.
Today, we’re being forced to reshape the GMVS experience to meet our unprecedented circumstances, but we will never lose sight of what makes us GMVS. Even though our community may now be separated by miles of interstate highways, closed borders, or oceans, we can support one another and we can make a difference for together, we are GMVS.
As always, please let me know if you any have questions or concerns.
Head of School
March 27th -- General Update
Dear GMVS Parents,
First of all, I hope this email finds you, your children, and your loved ones safe and healthy.
As we conclude our second week of remote operations, it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has, in no uncertain terms upended life as we know it. The rapid escalation of social distancing measures throughout the world coupled with our move to remote classes left us all feeling a little unsettled. Just as we were gaining some footing in our “new normal,” yesterday the Governor directed all schools in Vermont to remain closed to in-person operations for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, further disrupting the GMVS community.
This recent directive has obviously brought a sense of finality and another wave of emotions to our students – especially for our seniors who will no longer be able to enjoy their senior spring in the ways they expected. We now know that we’ll remain in our remote operational model for the remainder of the school year.
Over the next several days, our senior leadership team will continue to work with faculty and staff to further develop a meaningful remote experience that extends beyond next week and through the remainder of the school year. We are currently working to address questions across a number of different areas including:
- potential adjustments to our school calendar, including spring break dates as well as the end of the school year;
- potential adjustments to the daily and weekly schedule as we move into “Phase 2” of our remote operational model;
- how to appropriately celebrate and honor the GMVS Class of 2020;
- how to maintain our sense of community;
- how to properly celebrate the end of the school year; and
- how and when we’ll support and facilitate procedures for dormitory move out.
We plan to solicit feedback from our seniors and to include them in any planning for year-end and graduation celebrations. Additionally, we know that several members of the senior class are acutely concerned about how they will satisfy their senior internship and community service graduation requirements. We aim to provide guidance to the seniors on those items by the middle of next week when we will meet with them “live” to discuss many of their questions and concerns.
While I know this email may not capture all of the questions you may have, I hope it leaves you with a sense that we’re working to gain some clarity as we navigate this uncharted territory.
Although our campus is far quieter than we’d like it to be in late March, the tight-knit relationships that have always defined the GMVS experience continue to define our community. Over the last two weeks your children have come together in support of one another – and our community at large – in the face of these extraordinary circumstances. I am confident that this will continue until we are able to come together in person once again.
Be well, and do your best to enjoy the weekend.
Head of School
March 18th -- Letter to Students
As I write, coaches are up on the hill taking down the last of the b-net on Inverness and Brambles. Despite the excellent coverage and conditions, Inverness and Brambles lined by trees rather than red b-netting is a visible and symbolic reminder that the season is officially over. It’s hard to believe that our world has changed so dramatically in such a short period of time.
Our community has been deeply affected not only by the sudden end of the competition season, the closure of campus, and our transition to remote operations, but also to the significant changes to life as we know it. We’re living in an unprecedented moment in time characterized by anxiety, sadness, and abbreviated hopes. At the same time, we’re living in an extraordinary moment of creativity, ingenuity, and resourcefulness. As we move to remote instructional models, your teachers and coaches are setting up synchronous classrooms, Zoom meetings of all sizes, as well as WhatsApp and Strava groups, just to name a few. Other business owners in the Valley and around the world are setting up Instagram Live art classes, Zoom workout groups, as well as virtual dance parties and lighthearted online challenges.
The GMVS Code commands us to “accept the rocks in the road and embrace the challenges they present.” While this isn’t a challenge I ever expected, we must remain positive and focused, so that we can persevere through these unexpected changes. Over the next several weeks, you’ll be hearing from Kerry as well as your teachers, coaches, and advisors on a regular basis. They’ll be reminding you to stay focused, to stay active, to stay connected, and to share how you’re doing with us.
When you’re not studying, engaged in academic coursework, or doing what you can to build your fitness, I encourage you to try something new. Pick up the ukulele that’s been sitting in the corner of your room for years. Build something. Go for a walk with your family. Cook. Bake. Read for fun.
As we move all school operations online, we’re also looking for some creative ways to engage the broader ski racing community through a new social media campaign. Take a photo or video of you doing school work, engaged in a new activity, or you doing a workout either by yourself or through live streaming and send it to us, so we can make our social media feeds as interesting and relevant as we can during this unique time period.
I do want to share a couple of important updates with you:
- As expected, the number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Vermont has increased over the last couple of days. However, there have been no confirmed cases within the immediate GMVS community.
- We are taking the recent CDC and statewide recommendations for social distancing seriously and have closed campus for the time being. If you need to access something, please let us know and we will do our best to get it to you.
- We are not offering any GMVS sanctioned workouts or gatherings at this time.
We continue to monitor the unfolding events, yet are doing so in moderation as the news can be discouraging. We will keep you updated regarding any changes to our school policies and protocols. In the meantime, please be mindful of the things we can do to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Stay home when possible, avoid social gatherings, limit physical interactions with others, and continue to practice good hygiene.
Lastly, I’ve attached a letter from Sheila to all of you in which she addresses some of the feelings you may be experiencing right now. She, and all of us, are available if you’d like to speak.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
March 12, 2020 -- General Update
Dear GMVS Families,
GMVS is a community built around character. When faced with extraordinary circumstances, we come together in support of one another and develop solutions that are in the best interest of our students and staff. The unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 and the ensuing public health crisis is one of those circumstances.
While there are currently no known cases of COVID-19 on our campus, the situation is changing rapidly. Given the increasing risks associated with COVID-19, combined with U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s recent announcement cancelling the remainder of the competition season, GMVS will end in-person classes at the end of the day tomorrow Friday, March 13th and move to remote learning beginning on Thursday, March 19th. Our G7 program will use tomorrow to wrap up their winter term.
We are asking students to leave campus by Sunday, March 15th at 5:00pm unless they have received permission to remain on campus. Students may depart prior to that after communicating with Jenny Brennan, Director of Student Life. We ask that students tidy up their rooms, pack up ski equipment, valuables, and anything they think they might need and want for the next month or so. At this point, we hope to reopen campus and resume normal operations in late-April following our scheduled spring break.
Although this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, this decision reduces the risk of contagion, protects those who are most vulnerable, and enables students to get home while options still exist. We know this is incredibly disruptive to families, and will inevitably have an emotional impact on our entire community. We understand the disappointment associated with an anticlimactic end to the ski season as well as the uncertainty of what our spring will look like.
Remote learning will begin on Thursday, March 19th. Additional details regarding how we will conduct remote learning will be forthcoming from Kerry Jackson, our Academic Director. Students who are currently traveling will race through the end of their current series (assuming they are not cancelled), and then return to campus. These students also have the opportunity to go home directly from their race series.
This is certainly not how we wanted our ski season to end. Yet, these are unprecedented circumstances and we must do what is socially responsible. GMVS is a tight-knit community, and we are about to confirm that the personal relationships that define GMVS go far beyond our campus. Faculty and staff will continue to work in support of our students.
We understand that the decision to close our campus will place hardships on all of you, and I want to thank you for your patience, understanding, and resilience as we all work through these next several weeks.
Head of School
March 10, 2020 -- General Update
Dear GMVS Families,
As championship season gets underway, we find ourselves dealing with the rapidly changing circumstances of the novel coronavirus. We are acutely aware of the spread of COVID-19, and are actively working to manage and mitigate risks associated with the disease, while simultaneously being measured in our response.
Guided by the information being provided by the Center for Disease Control, the National Association of Independent Schools, the Vermont Department of Health, and our local healthcare providers, our administrative team continues to discuss the possible impact on our community and to map out contingency plans.
While COVID-19 is a public health concern, the CDC continues to report that the immediate risk to the general public remains low at this time. Yet, the potential for infectious disease is always a concern and we are emphasizing everyday preventative measures that we can all take to remain as healthy as possible. We are emphasizing the cleaning, handwashing, social distancing, and travel recommendations provided by the CDC, and are monitoring students’ travel plans, particularly in light of the busy race schedule and upcoming spring break.
We continue to advise our community to be prudent in making travel plans, and defer any travel to a country or area that the CDC classifies as a Warning Level 3 (avoid nonessential travel) or Alert Level 2 (practice enhanced precautions). Individuals traveling from any country or area classified as a Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2 will not be allowed to return to campus until they are 14 days without symptoms from the date of arrival in the United States. Additionally, any person who has had close contact with a known or suspected case of COVID-19 will be required to remain off campus until they are 14 days without symptoms.
As we head into the last month of the season, we anticipate the possibility that race organizers, NGBs, and IGBs may cancel or alter race schedules. This situation is evolving daily and may result in some changes to our race plans. Similarly, we continue to plan for our out-of-season on-snow training camps as usual, yet we are holding off on finalizing travel arrangements (booking flights) for all 2020-2021 prep camps until we see a clear path forward.
As we prepare for Spring Break, we will be asking all students and staff to inform us of their travel plans via an online form as we approach the end of the ski season. We do anticipate that there may be international students who are unable to travel home, and we are exploring local housing options for them. If you would be willing to host any of our international students during the break, please let me know.
Because this is an evolving situation, we may be required to alter our approach and planning on short notice. We will keep you updated with any changes. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
Head of School
March 2, 2020 -- General Update
Dear GMVS Community,
I recently returned from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference in Philadelphia where the coronavirus, COVID-19, was a preeminent topic of discussion among the hundreds of school leaders in attendance. NAIS and the Vermont Agency of Education, have been very proactive in tackling the complexities associated with this new illness and the potentially wide-ranging impact on our schools.
Our aim, in situations like this, is to remain measured in our response and thoughtful in making decisions that may impact the lives of our families. The school’s administrative team has discussed the varied levels of preparedness necessary to respond to the unpredictable nature of this illness, and we are regularly monitoring the fluidity of the situation. Guiding us is the information being provided by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of State, NAIS, and the Vermont Department of Health.
Although we certainly hope our efforts will prove to be unnecessary, we are planning for extraordinary circumstances that may require substantial changes to our school operations. We are, for example, making preparations to operate classes on a distance-learning basis in the event a temporary school closure is required.
We are aware that many students and families take the opportunity to return home and/or travel internationally during spring break. We strongly encourage families to follow the guidelines and recommendations put forth by the CDC and the U.S. Department of State, to be vigilant about health protection, and to be prudent with your travel plans. As of now, we advise that travel to any country that the CDC classifies as a Warning Level 3 (avoid nonessential travel) be cancelled or deferred to a later date.
Furthermore, individuals traveling from any country (or area) that the CDC classifies as a Warning Level 3 (avoid nonessential travel) will not be allowed to return to campus until they are 14 days without symptoms from the date of arrival in the United States (or the CDC-recommended quarantine period). For anyone traveling from a country that the CDC classifies as Alert Level 2, GMVS may restrict access to campus for the CDC-recommended period of time.
While COVID-19 is a public health concern, the CDC continues to report that the immediate risk to the general public remains low at this time. Yet, the potential for infectious disease is always a concern and we are emphasizing everyday preventative measures that we can all take to remain as healthy as possible:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid sharing drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, dishes, towels, or other items. Wash these items thoroughly after use.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with a household cleaning spray or wipe.
We are deeply committed to the wellness of our school community, and will share information with you as we receive it. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us.
Thanks, as always, for your support.
Head of School