Sacrifices. That is what the state is urging as cases continue to increase.
On Friday, the Scott Administration reiterated guidance around traveling and gathering. They highly recommend that Vermonters avoid both for many reasons. First, to prevent the spread and, second, to keep kids in the classroom.
“We need people to limit their contact with others,” said Governor Phil Scott.
This guidance comes as Vermont records an average of 112 new cases every day this week. Fortunately, however, Secretary Dan French with the Agency of Education says schools are still operating safely.
“We continue to see that schools are not the main driver of transmission,” said French.
And the Green Mountain State is working hard to maintain in-person instruction.
“To help remind everyone what we’re all working towards, I’ve invited a couple students here today, said Governor Scott.
These were high schoolers Sabina Brochu and Angelita Pena, who serve as student representatives on the Board of Education. Today, they shared the results of a survey they sent to their fellow students across the state.
“We wanted to be able to get a diverse perspective of students’ opinions and hear from them,” said Champlain Valley Union junior Sabina Brochu.
And they got over 1,000 responses, which detailed students’ feelings about their learning, safety, and support. Over 50% indicated feeling protected against COVID-19 while at school.
“I think we asked some pretty amazing questions to get to where we are to understand what we know,” said Mount Abraham Union sophomore Angelita Pena.
Both students said school is more than just a place to learn but receive necessary resources and emotional support. And the students aren’t the only ones who value in-person instruction.
“It is so much better to be in person with our students and I know that’s a delicate balance in terms of the risk that we’re all taking,” said social studies teacher Lacey Richards from Champlain Valley Union High School.
Lacey has been a teacher in Vermont’s largest school district since 2007. On Mondays and Tuesdays, she’ll teach half of her class. All 26 will attend class remotely on Wednesdays. On Thursdays and Fridays, she meets with the other half of students.
“It’s hard to be working so hard and never quite feel like you’re doing a good job at any of it because it’s just so new and different.”
But Richards says she’s determined to give her students the guidance and support needed to succeed. Like her, Sabina Brochu hopes schools across the state can continue offering in-person instruction.
“I think when people start to realize how important schools are in communities and in children’s lives that we need to find a way to mitigate the spread and bring numbers down because we need it to be safe for kids to go to school and be able to access extremely important resources,” said Brochu.