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Upper Valley parents react to school closures

Many schools across the region are already becoming overwhelmed with the rising number of COVID cases, forcing some to close.
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:56 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:48 AM EST
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BRADFORD, Vt. (WCAX) - Many schools across the region are already becoming overwhelmed with the rising number of COVID cases, forcing some to close.

Several schools in the Upper Valley have been closed for the past couple of days and more will not be opening for the rest of the week, a difficult reality that kids and parents are now once again forced to deal with.

“It is concerning -- the virus itself anyway. It is real and it does kill people and it does spread,” said Andrew Gendron. But what’s also concerning to this dad of two from Newbury is that school was canceled Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the Orange East Supervisory Union. “Vermont is really good with the vaccine and then they wear masks, so unless there is an actual crisis, I don’t see why they are not going to school.”

Closed schools include Newbury Elementary, Blue Mountain Union, Oxbow High School and nearby tech center, Bradford Elementary, Waits River, and Thetford Elementary. The district’s superintendent informed parents that more than 100 staff members were out sick Monday, which made safe operation of the schools impossible.

Operational challenges due to rising case counts also forced the Rivendell District to close its four schools Wednesday. They will not be reopening until next week.

“I’ve grown to be really flexible about these situations,” said Read Carlan of Bradford, who has Carlan has two kids in the district “The kids are going to miss out. They are going to fall behind and it is kind of the way things are going to roll for a while. So we maybe want to be thinking, in my opinion, five years from now, ok, how are we going to help these guys rally up.”

Carlan and his seventh-grade daughter, Allison, spent some of the day skating at Elizabeth Park. She is not a fan of school closures. “It sucks because it is a lot of pressure,” she said, adding that the ice helps her relax. “At the end of the day, it’s all the stress that you didn’t do and all the work that you probably forgot about.”

“I’m able to just shift on a dime like that and have my kids be home,” said Rachael Cook, a mother of three from Thetford. She says she’s glad schools are taking precautions to keep kids safe but she worries about unintended consequences. “I’m always concerned when they have to close school during really cold temperatures for the kids who don’t have insulation, or heating that is adequate in their homes, or food.”

The Rivendell District is providing bagged lunch for pick up each morning, similar to what it did at the beginning of the pandemic. Oranges East is scheduled to reopen Thursday.

But as more schools brace for a surge in cases, they are also preparing to implement the state’s new guidance for contact tracing and testing that will put the onus on parents to test unvaccinated students at home.

Related Stories:

Entire Rivendell Interstate School District closed due to COVID cases

COVID concerns close dozens of area schools

Educators, parents react to new school COVID guidance

COVID cases surge at some Vermont schools, barely register at others

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