Burlington superintendent gives update on plan to reopen schools

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BURLINGTON, Vt. – Burlington School District’s reopening plans will be finalized by August 4, but Superintendent Thomas Flanagan offered some details during a town hall event Wednesday night.

This fall, remote learning will continue in some capacity, so the district has increased their supply of laptops and tablets.

Cafeterias will remain closed, so breakfast and lunch will be brought directly to classrooms.

Schools will have health screening areas and sanitizing procedures, and the district is working to identify areas that might need physical distancing barriers.

As of now, there’s no clear-cut solution for getting students to school with city buses running at limited capacity.

“This is going to be a big issue for us that we need to come together as a community and work on, because it’s going to take a number of different pieces to make sure we’re able to get students to school,” Flanagan said. “One of those is just ensuring in any way possible that we’re using different modes of transportation, whether it’s walking, biking, personal family vehicles.”

Classes will be kept together with the same group of students and teachers every day, with spaced seating and assigned sections for outdoor recess.

In a district survey, families were relatively confident in sending their kids to school five days a week if strict guidelines are met. They were more confident when asked about using a staggered schedule where roughly half the student population would be in the building at a given time.

One parent asked if the district is offering a fully remote option in instances where someone in the family is immunocompromised or has other health concerns.

“We still have to work out some of the details of that, and some of which has to do with how many staff members we have who will be able to provide remote instruction,” Flanagan said. “That is something we’re definitely planning for right now.”

On Thursday, a second town hall will be held to give faculty members a chance to ask questions. Andrew Styles, a fifth grade teacher at Edmunds Elementary School, described what he’s been hearing from colleagues.

“There are some things that we need to be looking at in terms of structures for recess and moving around the building, but right now they’re finding things have been going well in a lot of places,” Styles said. “But, there’s still going to have to be a lot of work with teaching procedures.”

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