About half of Vermont’s public schools were off this week for winter break. One of the school districts where students were still in class — the Enosburg Town School District — went to remote learning this week because of community spread of COVID-19 in the area. However, the high school’s winter sports teams are still practicing and playing scheduled games as usual.
According to Vermont Education Secretary Dan French, classes at 15% of Vermont schools were fully remote last month. Thirty percent were entirely in-person, while the other 55% were blending both modes of learning.
“January, in particular, was a very challenging month in terms of virus activity in our communities,” he said on Friday. “And in spite of these conditions, over 80% of our schools were able to maintain some degree of in-person instruction.”
Enosburg Falls Middle and High School, as well as Enosburg Elementary School, were in that group of 85% or so until Monday. The district’s Cold Hollow Career Center remains in the group; it’s operating on a hybrid schedule.
“Now, this school did choose to go remote before their vacation, mainly because of staffing needs,” Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said of the elementary school. “As I’ve said many times, schools go remote for a variety of reasons.”
When contact tracing teams visit a school, they advise administration at that school of what to do next. French said precautionary quarantines that force learning to go remote sometimes don’t affect the ability to hold practices or games.
“There have been situations where a school has shut down part of its operation due to logistical concerns — not necessarily directly related to the virus — and still held athletic competitions,” he said.
Gov. Phil Scott was asked on Friday if the Green Mountain State will allow employers and schools to require vaccinations for their employees and students.
“I think I said, probably a month or two ago at one of these media events, that this was going to be a dialogue we were going to have to have both at the state level and the national level — what this means to us — and I would just say we have to have the conversation,” the governor replied.
In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu has issued an executive order requiring K-12 schools to be open for in-person learning at least two days per week. His order takes effect on March 8th.