As classes begin, nearly all Vermont schools are requiring masks


(AP) — Most Vermont schools will be open this week, and only one small district consisting of one school has not adopted a mask requirement, Vermont Education Secretary Dan French said Tuesday.

The state recommended that schools require masks for all students and staff for the first 10 days and continue to require them for children under age 12 in schools with low vaccination rates, French said Tuesday at Gov. Phil Scott’s weekly briefing.

“Next to vaccination, masking is one of our most important mitigation strategies. We know masks worked based on our experience with the virus last year,” French said.

Contact tracing will continue to be done in schools and could lead to times when classes or schools are closed, but hopefully for shorter periods of time than last year, French said. Vermont is adding volunteer surveillance testing of students this year. Last year, the state used surveillance testing of staff.

“This means we will identify more cases in schools, many of which would not have been found because they’re asymptomatic,” he said. “This is not a bad thing since it helps us stop the spread of the virus in our communities.”

Vermont also became this first state this past weekend to reach 75% of children ages 12 to 17 to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Scott said.

Now over 85% of eligible people in Vermont and 75% of the state’s total population have at least one vaccine dose and over 68% of Vermont’s total population is fully vaccinated, Scott said.

“As a result we’re better protected than any other state from delta and the data shows that,” he said.

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