MONTPELIER, Vt. – At a press conference Tuesday, July 28, Gov. Phil Scott addressed school reopening and announced he will issue an executive order to set Tuesday, Sept. 8 as the universal start date for student instruction.
This action gives schools an additional one to two weeks to prepare staff and test the systems they’ve built over the summer to provide the best possible start for students when they return.
“School districts, school boards, teachers, and administrators should take this extra time to make sure they, and their hybrid and online solutions, are ready and effective so we can deliver for our children and build confidence in the public education system’s ability to be flexible and responsive – because faith in the system is key to returning to in-person instruction,” said Gov. Scott.
Gov. Scott was joined by Education Secretary Dan French, Health Commissioner Mark Levine, M.D., and Rebecca Bell M.D., MPH, FAAP, pediatric critical care physician at UVM Children’s Hospital and the president of Vermont’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to discuss school reopening plans and address health considerations that inform the recommendations for in-person instruction.
The group emphasized the benefits of in-person instruction for children, especially those 10 and under, and the safety of doing so based on the state’s health guidance and Vermont’s low disease prevalence. While the governor encouraged districts to work towards expanding the number of in-person instruction days, he recognized that many are beginning with a hybrid approach, which will give those districts time to build confidence in their systems.
Commissioner Levine acknowledged the uncertainty of this virus has created concerns and questions for teachers, administrators and parents, and noted, “As health commissioner, when I weigh the health risks against the educational, developmental, social, and emotional risks for young children, I come to the same conclusion as the pediatricians and education experts: now is the right time for Vermont to restart in-person learning.”
On Friday, July 31, Gov. Scott signed the directive officially setting Tuesday, Sept. 8 as the universal reopening date for Vermont schools. The Secretary of Education will have oversight and authority in the implementation of the order and local school officials and governing bodies are required to consult with, and abide by, the direction of the Secretary of Education.