Despite cases, high school open; Mary J. Tanner goes to remote

Despite cases, high school open; Mary J. Tanner goes to remote
Mary J. Tanner School

The Granville Board of Education’s first meeting of the new year was held on Jan. 11 in the school library and virtual to the public.

The board sat socially distanced and discussed a wide variety of topics.

Positive COVID-19 tests

School superintendent Thomas McGurl has confirmed that the Granville school district has had four positive COVID-19 tests in the last month.

Three of the confirmed positives coming from Granville Junior Senior High School over the winter holiday break and one from Mary J. Tanner School on Jan. 14.

McGurl wrote in a statement to the district:

“The Granville CSD has been made aware of an individual in our Mary J. Tanner building that has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was in school on Jan. 12 and received a positive test result on Jan. 14. The district has contacted the Washington County Department of Health and is working in conjunction with them to assist with contact tracing.

“As a result of the exposure and an unrelated staff shortage, the Mary J. Tanner building will be switching to remote learning on Jan. 15. This will permit the Department of Health to effectively conduct contact tracing. The county will contact any individuals who will be required to quarantine due to the exposure. Those that are identified are being informed that they must quarantine through Jan. 22. Staff should report to Mary J. Tanner as normal unless otherwise informed.”

McGurl addressed the community with a Jan. 5 letter on the school’s website explaining three students had tested positive during the winter recess, but “it had no impact on school.”

“We had a couple of kids test positive while out on break,” McGurl said in a follow-up phone call on Jan. 13.

In his Jan. 5 letter to the district, McGurl expressed his relief and thankfulness to not have to close the entire school district and transition to complete remote-learning.

“I would urge everyone to continue to adhere to all health and safety protocols while in school, at home and out in the community,” McGurl wrote. “Together we can minimize the impact and help to ensure the continued safety of our students and staff.”

To read McGurl’s full statement from Jan. 14, please go to and click on the red link titled “Important COVID-19 Notice 01-14-2021”.

Vermont tuition rate

The board accepted and approved the advice given by McGurl to maintain the tuition rate of $9,371.25 for Vermont residents to attend Granville schools.

Considering the economic effects of the pandemic, McGurl said he feels it’s in the best interest of both the board and the community to “keep it static for another year.”

McGurl’s report

McGurl’s “fluid” and ever-changing schedule as superintendent has included many discussions with the members who make up the district’s COVID-19 human resources group. He is proud to still have the district open for in-person instruction.

“HR is consuming most of our days,” McGurl said. “We have remained unscathed thus far.”

McGurl did mention that in the event the district must transition to full-remote-learning, a child care framework for its staff is in the works for those parents who may not be able to attend to their children because of work and scheduling conflicts.

With the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine becoming more prevalent in surrounding counties, McGurl elaborated on some key information, and where faculty, staff and students fall into categories.

“Every county is in different places,” McGurl said.

McGurl said any faculty or staff member related to the school is in group 1B. From what he’s heard from Washington County, he said, it may be anywhere from 14 to 16 weeks until group 1B can be vaccinated.

McGurl has asked for a tally of staff members who would like the vaccination to be collected and sent to the Washington County Department of Health, so the district can provide the county with a better idea on how many vaccines to send.

McGurl later clarified that students are not eligible for the vaccine quite yet, only adult faculty and staff members. Additionally, McGurl said, he is hearing from state officials that even after becoming vaccinated, staff members will still have to abide by the safety protocols of wearing a mask and trying to stay socially distant.

Although this statement could change, McGurl said “at this moment, no one is required to get the vaccine.”

‘Good Apple Award’

Hicks Orchard owner Dan Wilson and business development manager David Garvoille’s idea to honor a junior and or a senior in the high school each month with the “Good Apple Award” was approved by the board.

Nominated by the recipient’s teachers, the student will receive a plaque that will eventually be made out of the wooden crates for apples at the orchard, cider donuts and cider as a reward for academic excellence and displaying citizenship and community service.

Garvoille said by phone to the board that Wilson is looking for ways to expand his ties in the area.

“He really wants to do more with the community,” Garvoille said.

This will be a monthly feature in future issues of the Granville Sentinel.

Jereme Randles’ report

Chief technology officer Jereme Randles said his department is preparing to distribute hotspots to students so they can access their computers from home if the transition to full-remote-learning is made.

“We’re working with the principals to deliver hotspots,” Randles said.

Board member Edward Vladyka asked Randles if there would be any interference or lagging of the online server if multiple children were on their devices in the same space.

Randles responded that the hotspots are independent of each other, but there is a possibility for a slight lag.

Board member Shirley Kunen thanked Randles, Meade, Talmadge and Morcone for their efforts in trying to provide a safe and efficient learning experience from home for students.

Staff, student recognition

Bridget Liebig was nominated by school principal Lisa Meade and assistant principal Daniel Poucher for her willingness to complete tasks thrown her way and do so with a smile on her face.

“Mrs. Liebig is the glue behind everything,” Meade said. “She will exceed expectations in anything I ask her to do.”

Dan Daigle was selected by Granville Elementary School principal Cara Talmadge for his dedication over the winter holiday replacing lights in classrooms and removing snow from the school grounds.

Kathy Burns was nominated by Mary J. Tanner School principal Paul Morcone after displaying leadership and fearlessness in teaching and administrating during the pandemic.

“She’s great on the frontlines,” Morcone said. “Kathy truly is an attribute to that.”

Karley Steiber, a senior at Granville High, was chosen to be recognized by Meade and the board for making 500 treats and ornaments for each faculty member in the high school for Thanksgiving, and replicating that for Christmas while expanding to both elementary schools.

Meade also said Steiber is taking multiple college credit courses while looking to be a role model in the community and give back.

Alexander Dworak was picked by Talmadge for his “polite digital etiquette” and “excelling” in the virtual classroom.