On Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott said if any state is ready to go back to school with in-person instruction, it’s Vermont. However, the start of school is being pushed back two weeks.
“Districts, school boards, teachers and administrators should take this extra time to make sure they and their hybrid and online solutions are ready and effective”, said Scott.
Governor Phil Scott will sign an executive order later this week to change the school start date to September 8th. He explained that this will give schools one or two additional weeks to work with staff and test out the reopening plans or fine tune them. Scott said he is also working with the legislature to change the requirements with the school calendar.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said there is currently no concerning outbreak data and the trends he is seeing makes it safe to open schools this fall.
“This is the right time to open schools. We have achieved a state of viral suppression that will allow us to open schools comfortably,” said Dr. Levine.
Dr. Rebecca Bell, a Pediatric Doctor and President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter joined the governor at his press conference on Tuesday. She said student’s pre-k through grade five as well as students with special needs should have top priority for in-person learning.
“Kids are less likely to contract, get seriously sick from, and transmit the virus than adults, younger kids even more so than adolescents. And this is the same population that benefits most from in person learning,” Dr. Bell.
Education Secretary Dan French said despite health measures and reopening plans, its possible schools could still close during the school year due to staffing.
“Schools or certain grades in schools might have to close for lack of staff such as teachers, bus drivers, or paraeducators,” said Secretary French.
Throughout the week educators have addressed concerns with reopening plans calling for more statewide solutions. The Governor said most things will be up to individual districts. School districts can choose a hybrid mode, a complete remote model, or a complete in-person model. Officials say all districts will need to be flexible as they continue to monitor science and data.