Vermont NEA says fall school reopening a heavy lift

Published: Jun. 12, 2020 at 5:27 PM EDT
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The union representing Vermont teachers says return-to school guidelines to be released next week has raised some initial concerns among members.

Governor Phil Scott confirmed this week that Vermont students will be back in school by this fall. Vermont NEA president Dan Tinney said that the guidance to be released by the Agency of Education Monday needs to be specific, but also flexible.

He says it is possible for students to return to school in the fall, but there will need to be planning across state health and education officials to figure out how to carry out procedures including social-distancing and how to stagger movement throughout the schools. He also points out criteria for a second grade classroom will have to be different than that of 11th grade or a technical center. And there must be plans for multiple scenarios including a possible second wave of the virus.

"If we have to close down immediately and return to distance learning, is the technology in place? Is the internet connectivity issues resolved? So, that is part of the need for time and effort in planning, because there are multiple things to plan for. But I do think we are going to see a combination of solutions here," Tinney said.

One possibility would be planning for a part-time in-person and part-time e-learning school environment. Tinney says he's not so sure three months is long enough to prepare, including stockpiling PPE, thermometers, and making sure furniture and desks meet requirements.

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