Sanders discusses pandemic challenges with Vermont students

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 11:57 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2021 at 6:20 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont high-schoolers on Monday evening got to share their experiences as students learning during a pandemic with Sen. Bernie Sanders during a virtual town meeting.

The students voiced their unique experiences during the pandemic and talked about the vast negative impacts on their schooling. Sanders wanted to give students the opportunity to be heard and work with experts to address their concerns.

“You don’t get to do this kind of stuff every day, especially during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Hussein Amuri, a Winooski High School senior, who was one of nine student panelists from across Vermont sharing their thoughts and concerns.

Amuri spoke about food insecurity and lack of access to Wi-Fi that low-income students are struggling with. He said he was happy to share his perspective of a new American’s experience through COVID.

“Me being there is my way of saying, ‘We’re here, we’re Vermonters and this issue of the pandemic has not only affected you guys here but also us in many ways,’” Amuri said.

Other students, like Elly Bliss, spoke about the intense isolation that the pandemic can bring, especially after she was forced to take virtual classes due to a medical condition.

“If you’re like me and you’ve allowed your friendships to fizzle out, I want to urge you to reach out and see if you can rekindle something. You need these people and they need you,” Bliss said.

Sanders held the event to hear directly from young people and help address their needs. He spoke about access to mental health services in Vermont and its importance for students.

“The emergency bill that was passed last week will provide many, many billions of dollars specifically for mental health, for community health centers to provide mental health counseling, for the training of more psychologists and psychiatrists,” said Sanders, I-Vermont.

Another emphasis was on summer programs for students. Sanders says funding has tripled for them across the country to allow students to reconnect and gain more academic help they may have missed, even gain job opportunities.

“We are focused on really promoting summer 2021 as a summer of connection, healing and learning for all children and youth. We are working with summer programs and teen centers all across the state,” said Holly Morehouse, the executive director of Vermont Afterschool.

To help get young adults even more involved, there’s a bill headed to the Vermont House floor which could create a youth council with up to 28 members ranging from ages of 11 to 19 years old who would help advise lawmakers on the issues that impact them.

Click here to view the entire town hall meeting.

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