Gov. Phil Scott has announced new guidelines for colleges to re-open next month, including mandatory testing of all students for COVID-19.
Socct said he believes Vermont colleges and universities can bring students safely back to campus in the fall. The new guidelines call for COVID-19 testing at the beginning of the school year and a health and safety contract.
The new guidelines focus on three major areas: decreasing the risk of those who have COVID-19 from entering campuses; decreasing the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff; and quickly identifying those with the virus and making sure they quarantine.
“Schools have stepped up and proposed strict procedures and mitigation strategies,” Scott said. “From quarantining and testing to facial coverings, limiting gathering sizes, to staggered dining times, and much more.”
The academic calendar will be also modified. Students will be sent home for Thanksgiving break and not be brought back to campus until later in the spring. This is to prevent students who are traveling home for the holidays from bringing the virus back to campus.
According to Dr. Richard Schneider, of the governor’s school re-start task force, face coverings should be worn by all faculty, staff, students and visitors. If a student or staff does not follow the health and safety guidelines, it could lead to the termination of an employee or dismissal for a student.
“Institutions are prepared and ready to discipline students and employees,” Schneider said. “For example, if you have an employee who says it’s my right I don’t have to wear a mask, well, then it is not your right to work at my school because you threaten the entire population by not doing that.”
The number of people in dining halls at one time will be limited, and other options will be made available for students to get food.
“Schools are going to do vast majority take-out where you pick up a bag or they will deliver them to the dorms or they will schedule class time as if you were in class but you will be in the dining hall,” he said.
The number of visitors on campus will be reduced, and on move-in day there will be special guidance about who can accompany a student to their dorm.
“It is just students in the dorm system but you can bring two guests but they have to go through all the normal processes of visiting Vermon,” said Schneider.