Vermont officials detail strategies for containing virus outbreaks in schools

Back to School 2020

Governor Phil Scott explained that going to school is important for the wellbeing of Vermont’s children. He says he worries for those children who are the most vulnerable.

“People working in grocery stores, construction jobs, and other who don’t have the time to teach their kids and struggle to pay for childcare, what happens to their kids? What are they doing to keep up,” said Scott.

State epidemiologist Dr. Patsy Kelso said the health department is working on strategies including contact tracing to contain the virus if and when it comes into classrooms or schools.

“A decision to close a school or a certain classroom for in person instruction, for example, dismissing students for a day or doing remote learning for a day, will be made with the superintendent or the head of schools, and the health department,” said Kelso.

Education Secretary Dan French also talked about changes to health guidance and screenings. He said health guidance now includes strong recommendations for in person learning for students Pre-k- grade five. Parents and students will also be able to fill out health questionnaires themselves.

Deputy Education Secretary Heather Bouchey said a working group has been formed to address the social and emotional needs of students and staff.

“We want schools and districts to adopt a long-range stance when it comes to wellbeing and mental health,” said Bouchey.

Fall sports can start practice September 8th, and sports will work with a phased in approach. New guidance requires facial coverings be worn for every sport except cross country.

Jay Nichols of the Vermont principles Association says there there will be specific guidelines around cross country looking at staggered starts.

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