Masks will stay on in local schools

ADDISON COUNTY — All three Addison County school district superintendents confirmed that in-school mask mandates for students, staff and visitors would remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Initially, schools in the county and around the state had started the school year with a 10-day masking policy. But with several cases already cropping up in Addison Central and Addison Northwest schools, never mind the rest of the county and state, the superintendents said the districts would stay the course.

The Department of Education website as of this Tuesday reported 81 students around the state had been in schools while infectious. That total did not include several cases at Barre Town School, which announced on Tuesday it would close on Wednesday because of several new cases, according to

Gov. Phil Scott at his Wednesday press conference declined, however, to declare a state of emergency that would allow a universal mask mandate in the state’s schools.

Scott said there already exists a “near universal mask mandate” without a declaration of a state of emergency. Scott did ask that schools maintain their existing masking policies for another four weeks, through Oct. 4, regardless of their vaccination statuses.

He also announced that schools achieving high vaccination rates would be eligible for grants from a $2 million fund set aside to create incentives for schools to encourage their students and staff members to become vaccinated.


Superintendent Peter Burrows summed up local decision-making in an email last week with which Addison Northwest Superintendent Sheila Soule and Mount Abraham Superintendent Patrick Reen were copied.

“Given current conditions, we will not be moving towards unmasking at this point in time (I believe all three of our districts are aligned on this). In addition, we have heard that the state will be updating its recommendation on the 10-day window and extending it,” Burrows wrote.

Reen quickly chimed in: “Agreed. MAUSD will not be unmasking at this time.”

Soule also responded soon afterward and said ANWSD was also on board.

She expanded on the subject in a Sept. 2 memo to families and staff:

“We intend to continue the masking recommendations of health experts at all levels PK-12. We learned that the state is recommending this practice stay in place for the foreseeable future given the case counts in our region and across the state as a result of the Delta variant. Therefore, all students and staff will be required to wear masks while inside the building until further notice.”

Meanwhile, the ACSD COVID dashboard at had reported four cases as of Sept. 2. One of those cases, at Mary Hogan School, turned out to be a false positive.

On Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 three members of the “Shoreham school community” had tested positive for COVID-19, and on Sept. 7 the ACSD dashboard added another case in the Shoreham school community.

In Soule’s memo she noted that on that day ANWSD “learned of one positive COVID case in one of our schools. This case did not impact any students, and due to the vaccination status of adults who might otherwise have been impacted, we do not have anyone in quarantine as a result.”

Soule added that ANWSD would activate its COVID dashboard at No new cases were reported as of mid-day on Sept. 8.

MAUSD’s website at this point does not have a dashboard, nor did in during the 2020-2021 school year, nor are there any notifications of current or recent COVID cases in MAUSD schools.

MAUSD’s most recent post on COVID-19 came on Aug. 27. It urged staff vaccinations and promised a coordinated effort to provide student vaccination sites when shots are approved for those under the age of 12.

In a post on the ACSD site, Burrows outlined typical procedures in all the districts when cases do crop up:

“If there is an active COVID-19 case, principals will communicate directly to the school community affected. If staff or students are considered close contacts, they would have received prior direct notification from a school nurse or principal.”

In other COVID news on Wednesday, Gov. Scott also announced that all executive branch employees would have to be vaccinated or be tested weekly. VTDigger also reported that the Legislature’s Joint Rules Committee voted on Tuesday to mandate masks in the Statehouse for all members, staff and visitors.


On Wednesday, Gov. Scott announced a series of walk-in vaccination clinics that will be open at schools and other sites across Vermont this week for anyone age 12 or older. Included in that list was Mount Abraham Union High School, at 220 Airport Drive in Bristol. Just walk-in or visit to make an appointment. You can also call 1-855-722-7878, toll-free, for more information or to make an appointment.

These vaccination sites also offer additional doses for those currently eligible based on guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some primary care providers and pharmacies are also offering additional doses. Check with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

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