Vermont schools to close on Wednesday due to coronavirus; ACSD closed Tuesday

“No student is required to be in school this Monday or Tuesday if their parents or guardians would prefer to keep them home.”
— ACSD Superintendent Peter Burrows

UPDATED: Addison Central School District officials late Monday announed that the Middlebury-area schools would close to students on Tuesday, a day earlier than previously planned.
ADDISON COUNTY — During a Friday evening press conference Gov. Phil Scott said he was declining to close Vermont schools because the threat of coronavirus was not yet widespread in the Green Mountain State, which only had two confirmed cases at that time.
But, after three more cases hit the state, Scott on Sunday announced that schools across Vermont must cancel all activities no later than Wednesday. Schools will remain closed until at least April 6, but he said in a release that the closures “may very well be extended for a longer period.”
In a similar vein, Addison Northwest Superintendent Sheil Soule alerted Vergennes-area families that school would be closed as of Wednesday but “student attendance at school on Monday and Tuesday is a family decision. 
“For these two days, ANWSD district attendance procedures will be waived, and no student will be penalized for not attending,” Soule said. “We do however ask that you report absences as per our usual procedures so we can account for students as a matter of safety.” 
Addison Central School District Superintendent Peter Burrows said in a message to the Middlebury-area schools that Tuesday would be the last day of classes, but “No student is required to be in school this Monday or Tuesday if their parents or guardians would prefer to keep them home.”
Superintendents around the county and across the state have been working on plans for how education will continue to be delivered and how schools will provide other services, like meals and learning supports. Those plans were not finalized as of Sunday evening. 
Gov. Scott’s directive will task local districts with three key components to support the state response:
-Food and special needs services for children;
-Collaborating with the state to provide childcare options for healthcare workers and others essential to the response; and
-Systems for ensuring maintenance of education during the initial dismissal; and a continuing education plan if schools are dismissed for an extended period.
Scott said that educators should report to work as scheduled.
Districts are directed to follow workplace hygiene guidance issued by the Vermont Department of Health.In order to build more resources and support in the ACSD community, the district created a form where questions, concerns, and ideas can be shared. School officials will use this data to construct Question-and-Answer websites and coordinate their response as educators head into this uncharted territory of prolonged school closure.
The ACSD’s online form is here:
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said the school closure is based on the best scientific evidence available to the experts at the Vermont Department of Health.
“Closing schools at the end of the day Tuesday is another important step to help keep us ahead of the curve, in terms of preventing and reducing spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Levine said.
Gov. Scott said the orderly dismissal of schools is essential to support both the state’s response to COVID-19 and the needs of children and families across Vermont. 
“We must ensure children are safe, nourished, and still learning even as the traditional structure of school is disrupted. The work of educators will be essential in this effort,” Gov. Scott said. “This is a moment of service for all of us. I know that educators across Vermont will do their part to support students and families. I’ve asked the Agency of Education to work with superintendents and local districts to ensure every child continues to receive the services they need from their schools, as well as assignments to take home to continue their academic studies.”
Governor Scott said, to prepare for the potential for an extended dismissal, each district must have a Continuity of Education Plan that includes:
-Meal service for those who need it;
-Services for children with disabilities and special needs;
-Working with the state to provide district-based options that meet the childcare needs of healthcare workers and other Vermonters essential to the response (EMS, Fire, LEO, National Guard personnel, etc.);
-Ensuring children have trackable work to do when schools are dismissed Tuesday; and
-Remote learning plan that prepares for schools to be closed for a longer period.
School districts that have Continuity of Education Plans in place that meet these directives may elect to close before Wednesday. All schools should be closed for instruction at the end of the school day on Tuesday.
Under the Governor’s directive, schools will remain operational for administrators, teachers and staff to sustain essential services and to plan and implement continuity of education through remote learning. The Vermont Department of Health has provided “social distancing” guidance that districts should use to ensure a healthy workplace.
Gov. Scott also added that the state understands there will be many unique challenges around specific students or specific programs, and that every district is going to have a different localized approach. 
“We need local government – and especially our schools and educators – to lend their capable hands and their enormous hearts in this effort,” Scott said. “It is very important to the overall response.”
ANWSD Superintendent Soule thanked the community for its patience.
“We have found ourselves in a rapidly changing, uncharted situation,” she said in her letter to the community. “We are grateful for the guidance and support that we have received from the Vermont Department of Health, the Vermont Agency of Education, and the Governor’s Office.”

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