Students, parents weigh in on Vermont kids heading back to class

Published: Jun. 10, 2020 at 5:37 PM EDT
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The state is creating a restart plan for Vermont schools. But how do people in the community feel about it? Our Olivia Lyons found most people she asked were happy about the announcement, but many still have concerns they hope will be addressed when the state releases the full guidance.

"I think it's going to be good for things to get back to normal," said Sarah Martin, a ninth-grader.

Reporter Olivia Lyons: How do you feel about going back to school?

William Kent/Third-grader: I'm excited!

Allston Kent/Seventh-grader: Umm... neutral.

Usually, the last thing on the minds of many students at the beginning of summer vacation is going back to school. But this year, some students are looking forward to being back in the classroom after learning they prefer in-person lessons to online classes.

"I didn't really like it," Allston Kent said.

"I would love to be in the classroom for work, rather than online," William Kent said.

But there are still some coronavirus concerns.

"Some people my age haven't been staying home or staying away from people," Martin said.

James Kent is happy his kids can go back but points out we have no idea where we will be in the cycle of the virus this fall.

"Kids get some kind of germ. Plus, there is going to be several months of social distancing, not catching things, so what's that going to look like?" Kent wondered.

Paula Molaski is a substitute school nurse.

"I'm excited!" she said. "I'll go back with my mask!"

Molaski says her granddaughters expressed some worries the other day, but overall she thinks students need the in-person educational, social and emotional support.

Not everyone I spoke with is in favor of sending kids back to school. One parent I spoke with says she thinks her student won't be able to get the proper education she needs. She says the guidelines previously given out by the CDC seem too strict and her daughter won't be able to feel like she's free at school.

"This health guidance which is about to come out early next week is crucial. We need that for our planning," said Jeanne Collins, the president of the Vermont Superintendents Association.

Collins says they will then need to get cleaning supplies and facial coverings in place. The final guidance is expected next week.

"What are the restrictions going to be? What are the transportation restrictions? Feeding restrictions? Will students be able to move freely in the building or do we need to keep them in one classroom? But we can work with all that once we know it," Collins said.

The task force in charge of creating the health guidance alongside the health department had a meeting Wednesday to discuss it further.

Collins says schools are also preparing for any changes once the school year begins.

Another factor is dealing with families who don't feel it's safe to send their kids back.

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