As schools in Vermont, New Hampshire and the North Country gear for the return of students, education officials in the three states are still fine tuning the guidelines for conducting in-person classes in the midst of a pandemic.

This week, Local 22 and 44 will be covering stories about how students, teachers and families are preparing for a return to the classroom. Our coverage will include the safety of in-person learning, the mental health needs and well being of children and faculty, the ongoing concerns around technology for remote teaching and more.

READ: School virus protocols are top priority as kids prepare to return to the classroom

In late July, Gov. Phil Scott signed a Directive  setting Tuesday, September 8 as the universal reopening date for Vermont schools.

This start date provides schools with an extra week for faculty and staff to prepare and test the new systems, online and in-person, that has been created over the course of the past few months.

“I know none of this has been easy, and I appreciate and have faith in educators and school boards, because I know they are 100% committed to giving kids the educational opportunities and support they need,” said Gov. Scott.

In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu’s guidelines for reopening schools call for in-class instruction in most circumstances, but leave major decisions for how to resume teaching during the pandemic to local districts.  

The new guidance says masks should be required for all visitors in a school building; but, for everyone else, masks are optional.

Cloth face coverings for teachers are “strongly encouraged”. Students should only have to wear masks when they can’t maintain social distancing, for instance, at bus stops, hallways, or classroom entrances.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that based on each region’s infection rate, New York schools are permitted to open this fall.

“Parents and teachers must feel safe and secure in each school district’s plan to return to school, and those plans must adhere to the Department of Health’s guidance,” said Gov. Cuomo. “To ensure that is the case, New York’s family’s must be fully informed and part of the conversation.  And so, over the next several weeks, school districts must engage: Talking to parents and teachers and getting all parties on board.