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COVID cases hit Vergennes-area school district

“I have heard from many parents expressing concern about our plan to return to full in-person learning in the weeks following the break and want to remind everyone that we will not increase the number of students in the building unless and until we feel it is safe to do so.”
— ANWSD Superintendent Sheila Soule

VERGENNES — After two COVID-19 cases at Ferrisburgh Central School led Addison Northwest School District officials to switch the elementary school to remote learning on Tuesday, three infections at Vergennes Union High School cropped up on Wednesday that have forced a number of students and staff members into quarantine.
Hardest hit was The Walden Project, the VUHS alternative education program, according to a Wednesday email sent out to families and staff members by ANWSD Superintendent Sheila Soule.
“Today we learned of three COVID positive individuals at the Vergennes Union High School. This has resulted in quarantining students and staff at The Walden Project, and several others at the school,” Soule wrote.
“These individuals will have time to test or to complete their quarantine so as to return after the school vacation (beginning next week). The school administration and COVID Coordinator Jaime Wells have worked to identify and contact everyone who is considered a close contact.”
Soule also addressed the issue of ANWSD’s plans — which mirror those around the state and county and follow Agency of Education recommendations — to return students in grades 7-12 to more in-person education.
Soule said the district plans do not call for all students to return immediately fulltime after next week’s break to VUHS, which houses both middle school and high school grades.
“I have heard from many parents expressing concern about our plan to return to full in-person learning in the weeks following the break and want to remind everyone that we will not increase the number of students in the building unless and until we feel it is safe to do so. The only change we are prepared to make after the break is to increase in-person attendance on Wednesdays by alternating between cohorts,” Soule wrote.
Currently VUHS students are split into two cohorts, each attending two days a week and learning at home the other two days.
On this past Monday and Tuesday, April 12 and 13, Soule sent out two emails, one each day, to families and staff about the situation at Ferrisburgh Central School (FCS). On Monday Soule hinted there could be more cases to come at the school.
“We believe the current data does not provide a complete picture of the projected increase in transmissions we may soon experience at FCS. Out of an abundance of caution, we feel it is best to shift to remote learning for all Ferrisburgh (Central School) students for the remainder of the week to allow us to continue to monitor data in preparation for a return to full in-person learning after the April vacation.”
On Tuesday Soule wrote about the second of the two newest COVID-19 cases:
“There are additional individuals who will be required to quarantine and test as a result, and Principal Andy Kepes has contacted those impacted. We are still on track to be able to return after the school vacation, however we will continue to monitor the situation and keep in touch with families over the break if necessary.”
The new infections at VUHS bring ANWSD’s total in this school year among students and staff to 47, 18 at that school, 18 at Ferrisburgh Central School, 10 at Vergennes Union Elementary School, and one at the Addison Wayfarers Experience at the former Addison Central School, according to the district website.
By way of comparison, the larger Addison Central School District has experienced 42 cases, according to the ACSD website.
The new cases at VUHS come as COVID-19 case counts have seen an uptick in the state and in Addison County in the past week. According to Vermont Department of Health daily statistics, the county has seen 39 new cases since last Friday, and 59 cases in the past two weeks.
 
 
 

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