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Guidance released for Vt. proms, graduations; Roster of summer programs in the works

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 4:58 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER Vt. (WCAX) - With weeks to go left in the school year, Vermont leaders are giving the green light for events like graduation and prom, and they’re also building programs for this summer.

It’s a sprint to the finish line for Vermont kids as the picture of what their summers will look like becomes clearer. “It’s nice to hear, definitely. It’s relieving, very relieving,” said Pearl Jackes, a 7th grader from Worcester.

The state has released its guidance on end-of-the-year events including field trips, proms, and graduations. Among other health protocols, schools will have the option to have attendees attest that they’re vaccinated. “This has been a long year for our staff and students and we want to make sure it ends in a safe and celebratory way,” said Vt. Education Secretary Dan French.

And the state and school districts are standing up summer enrichment programs to engage kids in the months ahead. They’ll look different depending on the community, but they’ll integrate academics, meals, and physical fitness. “In some cases, it’s focusing on extra time about math and science or reading, in other cases it’s building robots and shooting off rockets or learning about yourself,” said Holly Morehouse with Vermont Afterschool.

So far, over 400 programs will accommodate 30,000 children. But the state needs help staffing many of them. “This is open to high school or college students looking for a summer job or college credits,” said Gov. Phil Scott.

The Agency of Education wants to use some of the state’s $285 million targeted toward educational needs to help reduce the cost or make these programs free.

As the end of the year is in sight and the last of Vermont’s schools are returning from spring break, not all students are going to be back in the classroom full-time, even though the governor set April as a goal. French says that the target has changed in light of the spread of the virus and new variants, but he says districts are committed to getting students back as soon as it’s safe. “The tools are there, the conditions are improving, so we’ll see an increased effort on this in the coming weeks,” he said.

Looking ahead to the fall, students say despite having had their fill of online classes, they’re cautiously optimistic. “I think I’m ready, but I’m really nervous,” said Anneliese Scandale, a 7th grader from Montpelier.

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