Gov. Phil Scott said Friday that regulated daycare centers and summer day camps in Vermont can reopen beginning June 1 under strict health and safety guidelines.
The announcment came with the promise of $6 million in ‘restart’ grants to help the programs, some of which have already announced plans to cancel, rehire and train staff in safety protocols and make preparations to reopen.
Scott said the decision dovetails with changes to his stay-at-home order that allow more employees to return to work. He acknowledged lingering “apprehension” over the virus, which has infected more than 900 people in Vermont and been linked to more than 50 deaths.
But, he said, “I think it’s important to make the transition for the good of our providers, for their families, their kids, as well as we prepare for what will be normal for a while.”
Scott’s announcment came after Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, presented data from the state’s modeling that showed the spread of the virus continues to slow in the state. Pieciak said the data show trends that are outperforming even the best-case scenario envisioned by officials and that Vermonters continue to adhere to social distancing measures aimed at preventing outbreaks.
In anticipation of the reopening of day care programs, the governor said that all childcare workers are now eligible to be tested for COVID-19 under an expanded testing program outlined by the state last week. The state says it will open nearly a dozen new testing sites around the state for health care providers, first responders and other frontline workers.
Scott said additional guidance will be provided by the Department of Health to help child care businesses and summer camps prepare for operations while meeting the health and safety guidelines.
“We know how hard this has been and all business owners that do this important work and for you staff as well,” Scott said. “I want you all to know that your sacrifices are appreciated and your work to care for our kids is so important to all of us and our future.”