New Covid school bus rules send parents looking for alternatives

Essex Westford School District

Under Vermont’s COVID-19 rules for school buses, all students must wear face coverings and bus windows must be left open except in unusual circumstances.

By Guy Page

The Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Education have enacted strict new rules for children waiting for and riding the bus to school. Officials also recommend parents give their kids a ride, or have them walk or bike to school.

New school bus regulations, as of Aug. 11, include:

  • Bus windows must be left open except in unusual circumstances. “Students should wear appropriate clothing in the event of cold or drizzly weather.”
  • All students must wear face coverings.
  • Assigned seating is a must.
  • Younger students will be seated near the front of the bus; older kids toward the back.
  • Students from the same household may sit together.
  • More bus stops may be created to minimize the number of students gathering in one place.

In a related issue, True North reporter Mike Bielawski yesterday asked Commissioner Mark Levine about complaints by parents that students are required to wear masks while practicing soccer outdoors. Some students appear to have trouble breathing, Bielawski said. Health Commissioner Mark Levine said the research does not yet show whether masks are a health threat or benefit for children exercising outdoors.

Commercial cannabis bill

S.54, the proposed commercial cannabis law, now faces more opposition from minority rights activists. Also, a discussion in the House tax committee Tuesday highlighted differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Etan Nasreddin-Longo, a Marboro College professor and former AIDS activist, this week was named the Vermont State Police’s new co-director of fair and impartial policing. He told the Legislature Tuesday it must consider the impact of the proposed commercial marijuana law on minority communities, according to a report in the Bennington Banner.

According to today’s Banner, “He also advised lawmakers that they need to listen to the state’s Black and minority communities when making changes to the law, and put processes into place where legislative proposals are all reviewed for how they will impact people of color. One example he cited Tuesday was the Legislature’s attempts to establish the legally taxed and regulated sale of marijuana. ‘The regulation of substances has contributed to the incarceration problem we have nationally,’ Nasreddin-Longo said.”

Justice for All, a minority rights organization led by Mark Hughes of Burlington, and Vermont organic farming groups also has panned S.54 for catering to white marijuana business owners without consideration for the financial and legal consequences to Vermont minorities, as reported Aug. 21 by Vermont Daily.

Both Senate and House have approved S.54, but their versions differ. Some differences came to light in a Sept. 1 meeting of the House Ways & Means Committee. House concerns about the Senate version of S.54 include inadequate funding for prevention, and how revenue from local taxes would be allocated. Rep. Dr. George Till (D-Jericho) said he foresees licensing and police funding needs, but the Senate bill doesn’t provide that money up front, but instead relies on sales tax revenue.

The Senate version of S.54 “puts the municipalities in the funny position of rooting for more sales, because that’s more money they will get,” Till said. He prefers the House plan to allow municipalities to spend licensing fees. He and Pat Brennan (R-Colchester) also said he hopes the House will hold firm on a House provision allowing police to pull over drivers seen to not be wearing seat belts.

Chair Janet Ancel (D-Calais) said the main differences aired in the S.54 House/Senate conference committee are the seat belt provisions, and whether towns decide on on allowing commercial cannabis by “opt out” or “opt in.” The House version would require a town to “opt in” if it wants commercial cannabis. The Senate version would automatically allow commercial cannabis unless a town “opts out.”

Homeschooling applications more than double last year

School officials announced at a press conference yesterday that homeschooling applications are expected to top 4,000. Homeschooling advocate Retta Dunlap gave Vermont Daily more specific figures yesterday: Enrollments August 2019: 2024. Enrollments as of August 27, 2020: 4,455. Of these the agency has completed processing for: 2,706.

BLM wants Burlington cop Corey Campbell fired — see body cam video of incident

Last year, Douglas Kilburn of Burlington died after taking a swing at Burlington Police Officer Corey Campbell. (Campbell fought back, putting Kilburn in the hospital with injuries.) Now the BLM protesters want him and two other police officers fired.

Did Campbell’s behavior that day in the UVMMC parking lot merit firing? Was his use of profane language a “firing” event? Could he have de-escalated the angry Kilburn? Thanks to body cam video, viewers can see the event and make up their own minds. Warning — plenty of F-bombs dropped in this 2-3 minute version, which focuses on the actual confrontation. Longer versions — which show a lengthy, patient effort by Campbell to get an unwilling Kilburn to move along in his car — also are available online.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of Essex Westford School District

5 thoughts on “New Covid school bus rules send parents looking for alternatives

  1. Things are way out of hand. What started as citizens wearing masks and locking down on their on accord, has now turned into full blown government control . Acting like timid children on the first day of school, waiting for the teacher to guide us and give us permission, we have obediently handed over our rights to a bunch of politically motivated, common sense lacking bureaucrats. Let’s demand to see the science behind the regulations imposed on our children. Let’s stand up to Black Lives Matter and demand that they become law abiding. Let’s ditch the fear and the filthy germ infested masks. Let’s open the churches and close the school bus windows. What is the matter with us? Have we all lost our minds? How much longer are we going to allow the government to play us like fools. I’m finished with this game.

  2. How to be safe with school buses? Have no students in the bus, just have the youth walk behind the bus, at 6 ft intervals.! Or maybe parents could car pool with 5 students in a Car.
    As I read these byzantine rules, students must ride in freezing windy cold, all windows open, might be covered with snow and arrive with frost-bite, and still only 1/4 of bus capacity can be utilized

    We need this “New Thinking” here ! Dear Lord!!!

  3. The saddest part of the cannibus debate is that the senate and house committee members making the decisions regarding the formulation of the legislation, sit in with their ear plugs snuggly in place while those in opposition or those with a different take then theirs, state their position and the reasoning behind it. Again, it goes back to the mantra deeply imbeded in the process, “don’t bather me with facts, my mind’s made up.”

  4. Why Home Schooling Is Suddenly Very Popular In Vermont

    Readers should listen to this enlightening program, broadcast today on VPR. The enthusiasm for homeschooling in Vermont can’t be exaggerated. Parents can choose to homeschool at any time during the year. Even if they choose to do so during the traditional school year. Further, check out Oak Meadow headquartered in Brattleboro.

    Experiential education for curious and creative learners.

    • You have the greatest guy right up there in the NEK, Ben Hewitt!
      I’m a huge fan, he writes for Yankee Magazine now.
      I read his book called “Homegrown” where he taught me about Unschooling.
      He is a tremendous resource up there!
      Unschooling is a very good thing for many people in certain areas.. for certain learners.
      It’s about learning about life FROM Life. Not reading about Life in Books.
      You live your life and work to put the lessons into what you are doing.
      Parents should read about Unschooling. It’s very good for some and another option.

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