Gov. Phil Scott: We owe it to our kids

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Gov. Phil Scott.

Earlier this summer, my team set a goal for our state: If our positive health trends continue, let’s return to in-person instruction for our kids in the fall.

Our core principle has been to help school districts safely provide every child with an education that is as good or better than before the pandemic.

U.S. Department of State

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott

So, we’ve been listening to the experts and following the science – working with our Health Department, and Agency of Education, groups representing school administrators and teachers, and – most importantly – pediatric and infectious disease experts.

And what we continue to hear from public health and pediatric medical professionals is a strong call for in-person instruction in areas with low positivity rates, especially for kids 10 and under.

They point to Vermont’s low case counts, our proven capacity to contain clusters and outbreaks and our experience with childcare centers and summer camps, as well as studies from countries where kids are already in school. They’ve found in-person is better for our kids. In fact, the president of Vermont’s Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Rebecca Bell, observed many of our kids “are not doing okay” following months of remote learning.

But we know how unpredictable this pandemic is, and our data can change quickly. Schools need to be nimble and creative and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach because each is a bit different. So, our guidance for school reopening also included remote learning and hybrid (a mix of in-person and remote) options.

We know there is anxiety. So, while Vermont’s data and the science would allow for more in-person instruction than many schools are currently planning, I understand the need for caution and the desire for school staff, parents and children to ease into it to build confidence.

Just like we’ve turned the spigot in our economic restart, it makes sense for some schools to start with a cautious hybrid approach. It gives folks time to test the waters and work through stress and anxiety.

We also want schools to take the time to get this right so students can hit the ground running. That’s why I’ve set September 8 as a universal start date for students. This gives schools an additional week to work with staff and to test, and fine tune, the systems they’ve built.

Schools should take this extra time to make sure they — and their in-person and online solutions — are ready and effective, so we can deliver for our children, and build confidence in the public education system’s ability to be flexible and responsive.

Confidence in our ability to contain clusters when they happen is important too. That’s why we’ve worked hard to build testing and tracing systems that can surround and contain clusters and outbreaks before they become widespread. Because even though studies show transmission in schools will be low while rates in the community are low — which they are in Vermont — the reality is it’s possible there may be cases at a school. But we have an incredible and proven health team that’s ready to act quickly to contain them.

I want to be clear: I understand none of this is ideal, but it’s our reality. I know anxiety is understandably high, even while the data and experts support moving toward in-person instruction.

Fortunately, Vermont is probably in a better position to return to school than any other state — an opportunity to do what’s right for our kids and families because of how successful Vermonters have been in limiting the spread of this virus.

While this pandemic has created countless challenges, we owe it to our kids and their parents to provide them with the best possible education.

It won’t be easy. But I have faith in educators and school boards, because we know they are 100% committed to giving kids the educational opportunities and support they need.

We all have a role to play to support them in this work and in suppressing the virus. There is a big challenge ahead. But, also, a huge opportunity to teach our kids the value of flexibility, creativity, and resiliency.

Image courtesy of U.S. Department of State
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17 thoughts on “Gov. Phil Scott: We owe it to our kids

  1. You’re entitled to your opinion, Governor. But you are not entitled to circumvent our Constitutional liberty. If educators and school boards were “100% committed to giving kids the educational opportunities and support they need”, they’d agree to School Choice vouchers allowing parents to choose the programs they feel best meet the needs of their children. If you really want to “teach our kids the value of flexibility, creativity, and resiliency”, let them be flexible, creative and resilient. That doesn’t mean only letting them be the way you think they should be.

    • And many thanks to TNR for continuing to allow us the opportunity to express our opinions in real time. The tyranny that is Vermont’s other mainstream media outlets cannot be exaggerated.

      • This place should change over to the Disqus commenting system so that the people can converse in real time. The Notifications system tells you when someone has responded to you.
        If ever there was a place where people needed to talk, make plans, organize and inform eachother, it’s in Vermont RIGHT NOW.

        Disqus has its issues, but there is nothing out there like it and it’s the favorite of bloggers and commenters.

        You can learn as much in good comment sections as you do in the article.. so they should consider this to better utilize the site. It also brings in a lot of traffic.

        We have Disqus over at our NH site, with Free Speech and all, sometimes we even laugh..

        • Not a fan of Disqus and like TNR platform 😉 Use a private ad-free email provider but all can can sign up for comment replies?

          • I don’t have a social media account and have had great difficulty using private email account bc they very likely do not dispense packets of obligatory personal info some of these platforms require.

  2. Our teachers and their NEA are the problem. No matter what happens, like this pandemic that we all find ourselves in at present, they only think of themselves. However, I think this can be a great time to find alternative schooling for our children. Let the lazy propagandists sit home as long as they like and defund public schools and let the money follow our students as it should, for the betterment of our children. As for Phil Scott, he could not make up his mind if you only gave him two choices, he has proven an ineffective leader. Bad mouthing our president constantly is not the way for any leader to act, let alone the Governor of our State.

  3. Wht don’t they just come out and say they don’t want to work so parents can find
    alternative solutions like Home School, Neighbor hood mini schools or a parochial

    I assume they will be willing to take ($18,290) , we pay per student in the state and
    there kids will get a great education not the indoctrination there getting…..

    Maybe keeping the schools closed parents will see they have been getting shafted
    by the NEA and it’s puppets ……….follow the money !!

    Real ” Teachers ” turned me around, and it can happen to your kids but not what we
    have in today’s schools………..

  4. VT Governor Phil Scott missive juxtaposed to this:

    New Hampshire education commissioner doesn’t expect to need statewide remote instruction
    TNR / 2 hours ago
    By Sarah Downey | The Center Square

    Speaking before state legislators recently, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said it was unlikely remote instruction would resume on a statewide basis this fall, but some schools may need to incorporate it based on specific concerns.

    In comments published in the Concord Monitor, Edelblut said with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to evolve, it would be difficult to predict what may happen in the future.

    “But my sense today would be that we will not find ourselves again in the circumstance where statewide we have to go to remote instruction and support,” he said.

    • *This situation here in NH is evolving..
      I left a comment over under the article about it.

  5. Quite a longwinded splainer telling us what we already knew – that it will be mix of remote learning as the real children here – that is the so-called ‘educators’ – are having a huge collective hissy fit and there is no guarantee that there will be enough teachers for the classroom.

    But obviously don’t wish to forfeit the Federal funds by declaring only remote learning – which is the real plan imho, that could put NEA-protected teachers out of business by removing funds from VT DOE and paid to parents to provide own education source to the tune of $10,000 per child – hello to compass and charter schools in every town and village lol? Just as you deceptively claimed “We need to flatten the (nonexistant) curve.” Then dishonestly moving goalposts shapeshifting to whatever pique that fits just as any Tin Pot dictator.

    Ah yes – “The Experts” decide – absolving you of responsibility as you continue masquerade as Governor of VT. Lack of leadership on full display as your well-rehearsed mealy-mouthed equivocating prevarications are oh-so selfserving. Willingness to bow to every special interest by placing parents and children last on the list complete and utter disgrace that has caused great and longlasting harm to our youth as well as other most vulnerable among us.

    However fellow government officials, assorted bureaucrats, politicians and other members of VT ruling elite are clearly doing just fine as evidenced by willingness to foist your Groupthink mandate upon all others which serve to cannibalize the rest of us.

    One size ‘doesn’t fit all’ anymore? Unlike students and their parents who cannot show up for school when they feel like it – all of the above get to make it up as they go along according to own comfort level? How about anyone who doesn’t ‘feel comfortable’ teaching our youth and serving their families seek retirement or find another profession? If any other worker claimed to feel uncomfortable doing their job they would be dismissed.

    If those who feel uncomfortable going to businesses – they likewise opt for curbside or find another option?

    • Emphasis added
      “Confidence in our ability to contain clusters when they happen is important too. That’s why

      ***we’ve worked hard to build testing and tracing systems***
      that can
      ***surround and contain clusters and outbreaks before they become widespread***.

      Because even though studies show transmission in schools will be low while rates in the community are low — which they are in Vermont — the reality is it’s possible there may be cases at a school. But we have an incredible and proven health team that’s ready to act quickly to contain them.”

      You and your “proven health team” (who or what ‘proved’ them) have created a monster. Parents of my grandchildren do not feel comfortable sending 11 yo son back to school tho he craves the classroom experience and misses friends.

      If someone near him ‘tests’ positive – entire family would have to be tested – and all contacts. This could result in my daughter and their dad being isolated from work under quarantine, and refusal to ID contacts as it would harm their friends and acquaintances also.

      Their dad has two crucial positions which cannot be performed easily or well by anyone else at his skeleton-crew struggling workplace. This would be devastating financially to them and others. Could cause friends to disassociate due to risks. And if one of your jackboots , er, “contact tracers” comes to my door they will be asked to leave property immediately – it’s not optional.

      Their 13 yo daughter who was depressed but recovering nosedived after you closed the schools. She does not want to return to school or do much of anything really and displays signs of deep and ongoing depression which we all are greatly saddened by. I dare say we’re not alone.

      This places us all under specter of ongoing intervention into our lives which is completely unacceptable. While your collectivist Democrat supporters may relish in the warm and fuzzy feelgood of being ‘separate together’ some of us do not as we have things to do.

      Glib dismissal of and mention of this as foregone conclusion with coming attraction is not missed by those of us with functioning brains. Willingness to place Vermonters under your suffocating mandates a dealbreaker. May I suggest you prepare for another several thousand to continue the exodus from VT to parts unknown after this frightening fiasco you’ve created for the good ppl of VT.

      • Unfortunately, the people of Vermont are no longer represented. The Governor doesn’t hear us, the legislature doesn’t hear us and local politicians don’t hear us. My small business is basically closed, my two part-time jobs are also gone to closed businesses and the governor says it’s for the people to lock them down, behind a mask that doesn’t work and and spreads the panic to a frenzied population that reads nothing but VtDigger. Our so called representatives have been replaced by our rulers and the governor has relented any authority to the experts to remove himself from the decision making and blame.

        I refer everyone to the civil rights act of 1964 which is relevant here and now:
        “Sec. 202. All persons shall be entitled to be free, at any establishment or place, from discrimination or segregation of any kind on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin, if such discrimination or segregation is or purports to be required by any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, rule, or order of a State or any agency or political subdivision thereof.
        Sec. 203. No person shall (a) withhold, deny or attempt to withhold or deny, or deprive or attempt to deprive, any person of any right or privilege secured by section 201 or 202, or (b) intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person with the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by section 201or 202, or (c) punish or attempt to punish any person for exercising or attempting to exercise any right or privilege secured by section 201 or 202.”

        The same remedy is available to employees who can not wear a mask for any number of reasons. There is no health emergency and there is no constitutional power to forces anyone to do anything as long as they are law abiding people not breaking any laws. I can not wear a mask because I can not breathe my own exhaust.

        • Mask-mandate exceptions includes wording: …’difficulty in breathing’… and ‘cannot be asked for proof’…however any private business can require masks for service.

          Masks cause difficulty in breathing for ppl w/no respiratory illness – store clerks have remarked on this.

          • You can still file a complaint to the US Justice dept under the 1964 act. You cannot be denied service based on your belief or a medical problem because a state says you have to even in a business. The act came about due to rejection of basic services and segregation. The mask mandate is an edict and was not passed by any legislative body. And even if it was it is still unconstitutional.

          • Walpole NH Shaws sign says ‘masks must be worn’…perhaps there’s fineprint but just wanted to see what would happen if I walked thru store and made purchase – I made it whew.

            DLC was mask free and Jim Beam is on sale for $19.99 fyi as is Bacardi. VT has greatly limited what they carry – 100 proof vodka was only sold in small expensive brands.

            Checked 5 Star Discount Beverage with its towering 7’ high-piled cases of brewskies for signs of Marxist mask-mandates – nothing – and *no-one* was wearing masks not even owner/clerk nor any plexi – was exceptionally friendly and very helpful? Looks like a haven for the sane normal ppl.

            I will not go into a small private business that refuses service or fight them bc I do not wish to support Communists. They have lost my business forever.

        • I think there’s a contingency showing up at stores w/copies of your aforemention rulings. This is a disruption even under the calmest of interactions – however if accurate means stores likely fear arguments breaking out such as the Maplefields insurrection.

          Once again it’s the mask-mandaters who are causing all the trouble – they do not wish to be ID’d as the Marxists that they are and why they are demanding all fall in under their plexiglass-curtained totalitarian diktat. Each non-maskwearer serves as living proof of their seditious intent and corresponding resistance.

          • Stardust I think they have to have these signs up to make the powers that be happy; the insurance companies, bankers that rule the planet, foreign countries, politicians that get off on the power.

            I went in that same Shaw’s with no mask too and had no issue.
            I called my local Hinsdale Walmart and the Tractor Supply and they both said the same thing; “If you are not wearing a mask then we are to assume that you have a medical issue, all employees have been told to not harass anyone about this”
            They said as much at Market Basket too.

            So I would just carry on as usual- I have.

            * I had an article here that came up last night from a state rep. that said pretty much “Why the heck is everyone complying with all this? do your brains work??”
            You’ll probably like it.

            “Don’t comply with Covid Guidlines out of Ignorance”
            by NH State Rep. Dave Testerman

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