Hours after three new cases of the coronavirus were announced in Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott ordered schools to close no later than Wednesday and to put in place “continuity of education” plans in preparation for an extended cancellation of classes.
Meanwhile, late Sunday, the Champlain Valley School District said the Shelburne Community School would close immediately after a community member with connections to the school tested positive for COVID-19.
Scott is scheduled to hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the decision to shut the schools until at least April 6. The governor has said the dismissal could last much longer.
“This is a moment of service for all of us,” Scott said. “I know that educators across Vermont will do their part to support students and families.”
Scott’s order directed school districts to develop plans to deliver food and services to children with special needs, as well as to work with the state to provide childcare options for healthcare workers and others who are considered essential to the response.
Students can attend classes Monday and Tuesday, although they will not be required if parents would prefer to keep them at home. Teachers, staff and administrators were directed to report to work as usual “to support both the State’s response to COVID-19 and the needs of children and families across Vermont.
“We must ensure children are safe, nourished, and still learning even as the traditional structure of school is disrupted,” Scott said. “The work of educators will be essential in this effort.”
Scott said each school should have in place by the end of day Tuesday a Continuity of Education Plan that includes:
- Meal service for those who need it;
- Services for children with disabilities and special needs;
- Working with the state to provide district-based options that meet the childcare needs of healthcare workers and other Vermonters essential to the response (EMS, Fire, LEO, National Guard personnel, etc.);
- Ensuring children have trackable work to do when schools are dismissed Tuesday; and
- Remote learning plan that prepares for schools to be closed for a longer period.
The Department of Health reports four confirmed Vermont cases of COVID-19, in addition to four non-Vermont residents who tested positive at the Vermont Public Health Laboratory.
Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levin said the decision to close the school is “based on the best scientific evidence available to the experts at the Vermont Department of Health.
Closing schools at the end of the day Tuesday is another important step to help keep us ahead of the curve, in terms of preventing and reducing spread of COVID-19.”