From one end of Vermont to the other, communities are voicing deep concerns about Act 46.
Seven Problems with Act 46 is a new V4SC paper that describes specific problems with the 2015 school consolidation law, and recommends solutions for each. At a minimum, we are asking the legislature to hit the pause button on Act 46 to give communities more time to consider what will be an irrevocable decision if they choose to abolish their school districts.
Concerns about Act 46 are mounting. Earlier this month, key legislators put the Agency of Education and State Board on notice that they’re unhappy with the implementation of the law (see coverage here). And as Election Day gets closer, Vermonters have taken strong stands against the Act 46 "preferred" model and in favor of retaining community voice, such as in this candidate commentary and this school board member commentary.
Vermonters for Schools and Community is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that believes schools are at the heart of Vermont communities. You—our members and supporters—include school board members, teachers, parents, students, and concerned citizens who are seeing first-hand the problems being created by Act 46.
We hope you’ll take a look at the Seven Problems document. If you agree, please take action:
• Contact your legislators and candidates for statewide and local office, and share your concerns. Ask them to support changes to Act 46. Feel free to forward them the Seven Problems with Act 46.
• Spread the word to neighbors, friends and family about the Seven Problems with Act 46. And send folks to www.vtschoolsrock.org to sign up for our free email list. (Don’t worry, we do not share names, so they won’t receive spam.)
• Visit www.vtschoolsrock.org for news updates, tip sheets, other helpful resources.
You are not alone in your concerns about the effects of education consolidation in Vermont. Let’s work together to keep our schools and communities strong.
Vermonters for Schools and Community Steering Committee
Science at the Hatchery: lessons in conservation and learning
By Julia Purdy CHITTENDEN—Tuesday, Sept. 20, was Conservation Field Day at the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Fish Hatchery in Chittenden for over 100 fifth- and sixth-graders from Chittenden, Leicester, Proctor, Rutland Town, Shrewsbury and Mount Holly. School buses delivered the groups and their parent-chaperones at 9 a.m. and the children spent the day in structured activities, learning about forest and stream ecology; tree identification; fish species, culture and wild habitat; soils and wetlands; and the behavior of wild streams. Colorful sleeve patches and beige shirts were a common sight as the students also learned by example about careers in natural science and biology from uniformed personnel from both the state and U.S. fish and wildlife services and the U.S. Forest Service. The day began with small-group tours of the Atlantic salmon rearing program at the hatchery, led by hatchery manager Henry Bouchard and William Olmstead of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. During lunch, students camped on the lawn and gathered to feed the landlocked salmon swarming in the open-air pool. After lunch, the student groups finished rotating through field stations spread out along Furnace Brook, which also provides the water for the Atlantic salmon rearing units. At the “Fish and Streams” stations, Shawn Good of the Vt. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife described his profession and how he became a fish biologist. He netted some small trout for students to get a good look at and quizzed them about fish species in Vermont and their habitats. Chris Alexopoulos, a fisheries and wildlife technician with the U.S. Forest Service, demonstrated “fish shocking,” showing how electroshocking is used to temporarily and harmlessly stun fish in the water, enabling them to be identified, measured and weighed. A brown trout was captured, along with bottom-feeding sculpins and insects that fish feed on. At the “Forests” station, Lars Lund, Vt. Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation, taught the group how to identify tree species, using leaves and a plant identification key that he had developed. At “Soils,” Angie Quintana of the U.S. Forest Service encouraged students to think differently about dirt, examining handfuls for iron deposits and learning how bacteria in soils have contributed to medicines. The flume table, which reproduces the behavior of streams by flowing water through a bed of plastic beads, was staffed by Shannon Pytlik, a river scientist with the ANR River Management Program. Students placed tiny houses and miniature “trees” along the “stream,” observing how fast-moving water undercut the banks and pushed the plastic beads downstream. The group leaders were friendly, accessible and informative while reinforcing listening, respect for the subject matter, and good manners. When it was time to leave, there were choruses of “Thank-you” to the instructors. Nanci McGuire, district manager of the Rutland Natural Resources Conservation District (RNRCD), conducted the pre-departure debriefing by asking for raised hands to answer two questions: “what you learned” and “what you liked.” The best-liked were the flume table (“you shouldn’t build houses on a stream”), fish shocking (noting the “special boots and clothes”), and forestry. Feeding, identifying and handling fish was also memorable. What did students remember? Fish live under fallen trees, different fish require different water temperatures, large culverts are needed to handle floods, fish need streamside trees. All too soon, the schoolbuses arrived and the students quickly lined up to board. “That age group is a great group to reach out to,” said Ethan Swift, watershed coordinator with the ANR, “to get kids away from electronic distractions and out into nature at their time in life to understand and enjoy natural resources.” Science at the Hatchery has been held twice a year since 1998. The event was cosponsored by the RNRCD, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), with the participation of the U.S. Forest Service and assistance from second-year students from Stafford Technical Center’s forestry and natural resources program, with their advisor Dan Lovell. The hatchery in Chittenden was established by the state of Vermont in 1906 and was known as the Pittsford Hatchery until 2009, when it was renamed for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had visited it. From 1995 to 2004 it raised trout for New England and lake sturgeon for the Finger Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. It now raises brook and lake trout and both landlocked and sea-run Atlantic salmon, and participates in the landlocked salmon restoration program in Lake Champlain. The hatchery is open to the public 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 365 days a year. It is located at 4 Holden Road, No. Chittenden.
Local Businesses and Individuals Offer Music Students Free Tickets to Folk & Blues Fest, Oct. 8
September 29, 2016 (LUDLOW, VT) – Thanks to the generosity of several local businesses and individuals, dozens of music students from Ludlow’s Black River High School will be enjoying a complimentary ticket to the upcoming 3rd Annual Black River Folk & Blues Fest.
The October 8th event will bring a variety of folk-and-blues-based musical acts and talented musicians to the stage at the Ludlow Town Hall auditorium. At last count, more than 20 students of Black River High School music teacher and band director Katie Herrle will be attending the show free of charge.
The event is hosted by the local, non-profit community group “FOLA” (Friends of Ludlow Auditorium). Bruce Farr, FOLA’s Program Director, said that he is excited at the prospect of hosting so many young, musically inclined students at the show. “I couldn’t be happier about it,” Farr said. “It’s the reason we founded this music fest to begin with—to try and expose local Vermonters and others to some really great American roots, jazz and blues-based musical performances.”
Farr said that when he and other FOLA members approached a handful of local individuals and businesses about the event, many of them purchased extra tickets and offered them to local young people.
Katie Herrle, Black River High’s band director, echoed Farr’s enthusiasm for the ticket giveaway. “My students and I are grateful and thrilled to have this opportunity,” she noted. “I’ve been playing my music students some selections from the groups they’ll be seeing and hearing live on October 8th, and they’re getting very excited about it.”
This year’s music fest has lined up three top-notch, New England-based musical groups for its third annual event. They include American roots folk singers and songwriters, “The Meadows Brothers”; the western Massachusetts-based alt-country trio, “The Lonesome Brothers”; and the “Becca Byram Band,” featuring legendary guitarist Michael Oakland and drummer Tim Griffin, accompanying consummate jazz and pop artist Becca Byram on keyboard.
Tickets for the event are available at a $5 discount in advance at Ludlow’s People’s Bank, the Wine & Cheese Depot and the Book Nook bookstore. They’re also available online at the FOLA website, www.fola.us. They’re also available at the door the evening of the show.
How is the stomach flu transmitted (norovirus and others)?
Answer: You catch the stomach flu when virus-infested feces, vomit, or nasal secretions get into your mouth. Norovirus can be present in saliva.
The stomach flu is highly contagious and is primarily spread through the fecal-oral route. Technically, you need to swallow the virus to get the illness. When a person has viral gastroenteritis, the viruses are present in their feces and vomit. If another person accidentally swallows a few of these viruses, they get sick. Anything that you put into your mouth that has the viruses on it, can make you sick. (Food, your fingers, pen cap, toothbrush, etc.)
Improper Hand Washing
The main reason these viruses spread like wildfire is thought to be improper hand washing. We aren’t washing our hands good enough after we go to the bathroom or change a diaper. Here are some examples of how the stomach flu can be spread by dirty hands. A person who is ill or contagious and uses the bathroom can leave some viruses on the faucet, flusher, toilet seat, or hand towel to wait for the next person. A restaurant or cafeteria worker who is contagious with a stomach virus, can start an outbreak by chopping lettuce with a microscopic fleck of feces under her fingernail. Diaper changing is another easy way to spread illnesses. Just think about all the things you touch after you change the baby's diaper BEFORE you wash your hands--especially if you have a kicking, twisting 1-year old. You touch the baby's clothes, the box of wipes, maybe a door knob, a light switch, your sleeves, and the faucet. A few of the viruses on your sleeve dry and fall onto your sandwich later that day. 48 hours later you are wondering where you went wrong. It is hard to do a perfect hand washing. So, if you or a family member actually has a stomach bug, I would recommend using a hand sanitizer that kills norovirus such as Clorox Hand Sanitizer Spray on your hands after you wash them in the sink. For more hand sanitizer suggestions, read this page. I would also recommend wearing disposable gloves to change a sick child's diaper and clean up.
Viruses are easily spread all over the house.
I know what you are thinking. The last time someone in your house got the stomach flu, you washed your hands till they bled and you still got sick. This is partly because when a person (especially a child) is sick with viral gastroenteritis, the vomit and diarrhea get a whole lot of other places besides hands. Their clothes get covered and perhaps the carpet and toys. When the viruses are all over the place like that, it is hard to prevent other people in the house from catching the illness. It is hard to clean up every microscopic spec of vomit. If the sick person is an adult who makes it to the toilet, you have a good chance of containing the virus. But when it is a child who vomits in the middle of the family room, it is very difficult. Make sure to read the page about cleaning products that kill norovirus including Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide Wipes. In addition, your clean laundry is NOT sterile. I have done experiments that show that there are still live bacteria in clean laundry even after washing on hot, with chlorine bleach, and 1.5 hours in a hot dryer. I imagine that some viruses would survive that as well. I would wash all sick laundry 2 times AND make sure to wear disposable gloves when transferring the laundry from the washer to the dryer.
Stomach flu viruses can be temporarily AIRBORNE!
Norovirus has also been shown to become temporarily airborne when a person vomits. This is most likely true for the other gastroenteritis viruses as well. In one study, a person vomited in a hotel dining room. People eating at other tables all over the room got sick which could not be explained by direct contact. People at closer tables were more likely to be sick than people whose tables were farther away1. When the virus particles settle out of the air, you have a nice light coating of virus all over the room. So, if your child vomits in the middle of the family room carpet, it is very easy for everyone to be exposed. People can breath in and swallow the temporarily airborne viruses or touch contaminated surfaces and then put their fingers in their mouth. For example, the viruses can land on the TV remote control. When you are flipping channels and eating popcorn, you may eat the virus.
It stands to reason that if virus particles can be aerosolized when a person vomits, the same phenomenon can occur when a person has explosive diarrhea. I have no scientific evidence to back me up, but I suspect that when you walk into a bathroom that smells horrid from a person having diarrhea, there may also be viruses in the air. Stinky public bathrooms are no longer just a funny joke.
Norovirus can be present in saliva, unfortunately.
Everyone else, including the CDC, will tell you that norovirus is only present in vomit and diarrhea. However, norovirus is probably present in saliva in some people. Here is a research article that checked saliva samples from a family of 6 who all had norovirus. They took saliva samples every morning for 18 days and checked them for norovirus using RT-PCR. You won't be able to read the entire article unless you buy it. I bought it. The results show that all 6 family members had norovirus present in their saliva for 9-13 days after the vomiting STOPPED from norovirus! 2 of the family members who never had vomiting (only diarrhea) still had norovirus present in their saliva for 10 and 13 days!!! That is really, really upsetting. I could only find one research article that investigated this. Hopefully, more research will be done so we can be certain of how scared we need to be. Rotavirus has also been shown to be present in nasal secretions 2,3,4. Therefore, people coughing and spitting when they talk can contribute to the spread of norovirus and rotavirus.
Contaminated Food and Water
Viral gastroenteritis is often spread through contaminated food and water. Third World countries with poor sanitation are ravaged by these illnesses. Here in the United States we generally have clean municipal water (I don’t want to think about the fact that our drinking water is not regularly tested for these viruses) but we still have an occasional problem with food6. Shellfish harvested from waters contaminated with sewage are frequently the cause of norovirus outbreaks. Fresh fruits and vegetables irrigated with water contaminated with sewage have caused outbreaks7. If a restaurant or cafeteria worker is contagious with viral gastroenteritis, they can easily contaminate your food. If several people get sick 2 days after a family reunion, it may not be that the potato salad was left in the sun too long. It may be that Aunt Frieda is getting over the stomach flu, and her potato salad was contaminated with her virus. When these viruses are transmitted through food it is called food borne illness. It is a type of food poisoning that is contagious.