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Vermont schools make final preparations for opening day Tuesday

Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 4:34 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 4, 2020 at 5:19 PM EDT
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NEWPORT, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont schools are reopening on Tuesday with various hybrid learning models, and pandemic or not, Governor Phil Scott says it’s time to focus on what’s best for students and get them back on track.

“It makes sense on paper, I guess. We won’t know for sure until we open the doors on Tuesday,” said Chris Young, the principal at North Country Union High School in Newport.

At North Country, students will return at 25-percent capacity and learn through a hybrid model. Young says teachers and administrators feel as ready as they can be. “I have more confidence in the plan since they have the voice of almost our entire faculty within them,” he said.

“We know this isn’t easy for anyone. There will be bumps in the road -- maybe big ones -- and there will be cases at the schools,” said Governor Phil Scott Friday.

He says his administration is there to support schools as they reopen and eventually transition back to full-time, in-person learning, “We’re here to work with you as we take this big step forward to respond to and contain cases and adapt to changing circumstances,” Scott said.

Based on data from the health department, Scott and administration officials maintain it is the correct time to send kids back to school for in-person learning. “The low prevalence that we’re seeing in Vermont should really be to our benefit as we continue higher-ed reopening, and K-12 reopening as well,” said Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak.

Back at North Country, Young says his school has held logistical and instructional training for the past eight days. He says the extra two weeks the governor gave schools for planning were very important. “I’ve never planned eight straight days of professional development before, so it was a little bit daunting, but I am so proud of the teachers and how they dove right in,” he said.

Governor Scott also responded Friday to the Vermont NEA giving his administration a “D-plus” grade on preparedness for school reopening. He says he hopes to avoid politicization of the return to school and keep in mind what’s best for students. He says if schools are having concerns they should reach out to his office and the Agency of Education.

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