Vt. House lawmakers to meet with ed officials on school reopening plans

Some school administrators have criticized education officials for providing inadequate guidance
Montpelier Statehouse Generic
Montpelier Statehouse Generic(WCAX)
Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 12:25 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 1:08 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont lawmakers will meet Thursday afternoon with state education officials and other stakeholders to discuss school reopening plans. It comes as some school districts and the union representing teachers has pushed back against administration directives.

The House Education Committee is expected to hear from a wide range of education leaders including Vt. Secretary of Education Dan French, officials with the Vermont National Education Association, the Principals’ Association and the Superintendents Association. Superintendents of five supervisory unions and districts from across the state will also take part.

The meeting comes as superintendents across the state last week began releasing hybrid school reopening plans with both online and in-person classes. Some have criticized state education officials for providing inadequate guidance beyond health and safety considerations.

Harwood Unified Union School District Superintendent Brigid Nease wrote a scathing open letter last week saying school leaders were told by state officials to basically “go figure it out,” and that the guidance was “a repeat of Act 46 and Proficiency Based Learning except with even more at stake.” She predicted many employees won’t come back, making it impossible to pull off the hybrid learning model.

Gov. Phil Scott this week announced schools will open after September 8, saying says the two-week delay will give districts more time to prepare.

The Vermont-NEA Thursday released its own plan calling for an even later start. They say part one of the phased in start from late August until September 8th would only be teachers and staff meeting to prepare. Phase two would be teachers and staff to meet with students and family to assess the needs of students. This would continue until individual districts feel they are ready to move to phase three -- student instruction. They say schools would need to verify they are following multiple safety and cleanliness standards. A final phase would be a general assessment of how reopening is going.

The union also says they would like Governor Scott and the Agency of Education to reconsider a state commission for reopening and they would like more guidance for special education instructors.

The House hearing takes place online from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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