Schools to quiz students, parents about Thanksgiving travel

By Guy Page

In hopes of reducing a looming increase in Covid cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday announced at his twice-weekly press conference three measures:

  • The Monday after Thanksgiving, Vermont school staff under direction from the Agency of Education will be asking returning students and parents if they traveled to other households for Thanksgiving dinner. If they answer yes, the students will be required to attend school via remote learning for at least seven days.
  • Gov. Scott said businesses will be urged to ask employees the same question. Again, if the answer is yes, they will be asked to quarantine.

Calvin Cutler of WCAX asked if it’s realistic to expect that enough people will tell the truth. “I’m just hopeful they will, for the good of everyone,” Scott said. “In the anticipation of that question, maybe you [listening Vermonters] ought to cancel some of the plans you have made.”

Guy Page

Doesn’t that put kids in the position of tattling on their parents, Wilson Ring of the Associated Press asked. Scott stood firm: “This is fair warning. If you’re planning on having gatherings outside your households, if you don’t want to have your kids in remote learning and quarantine for a seven-day period, maybe you should make other plans. I’m not sure it’s ‘tattling’ on anyone.”

Lisa Scagliotti of Waterbury Roundabout, a parent of a middle schooler, asked if parents have been notified about the plans for Monday. Secretary of Education Dan French said the information went out from his agency yesterday. The Vermont Principals’ Association is postponing indefinitely the start of school sports. The season was scheduled to begin Nov. 30. School sports “are paused until further notice,” Scott said.

Scott declined to impose further restrictions. “We think what we’re doing is working,” he said. However he freely used the “bully pulpit” of the press conference to once again reinforce the need to follow existing regulations, especially concerning the upcoming holiday.

“There are some who want to do the right thing but don’t see the risk of having lunch with a friend … or having people over for dinner,” Scott said. “Even your trusted friends and households are at much greater risk and may not even know they have the virus.”

For the young, healthy and unconcerned, Scott advised: your actions could hurt others. “You never know when you’re going to be the domino who causes a nursing home outbreak or leads an entire school to go to remote learning.”

“Being smart now means we’ll get out of this sooner and stronger,” Scott said.

Thanksgiving threat overblown? – Vermont Daily asked, “Last year over Thanksgiving, the World Cup in Killington alone drew 36,500 attendees, many from out of state. That won’t be happening this year. Is it accurate to use 2019 Thanksgiving travel numbers to project a spike in 2020 new cases and deaths?”

“The mobility data was for illustrated purposes,” Commissioner Michael Piecak said. Last year between 100,000 and 125,000 people were traveling in Vermont over the long weekend. “That event could have contributed,” but there’s still plenty of other travel to consider. Furthermore the 2020 Thanksgiving health risk assessment is based on gatherings of 10 people or more. 2019 was not the basis for that analysis,” he said.

Which vaccine is best? Asked this question, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said he lacks the data but did discuss the decision-making parameters. “We want to understand their measures of efficacy, and adverse events,” he said. Levine also wants to know how many shots are needed: “a vaccine that has only one would be nice.” Another issue is storage temperature – the Pfizer vaccine needs ultra-cold storage, and the Astrozeneca does not, he said.

Regardless, immunization will not be immediate upon vaccination. “It’s a matter of weeks” before the vaccine makes the recipient immune, Levine said.

Donoghue surprises – Reporter Mike Donoghue, a famously tenacious inquisitor of public officials over a 52-year career, surprised many listeners by passing on asking any questions. Instead, “in the spirit of Thanksgiving,” he praised Gov. Scott for his leadership and press accessibility.

“You understood that reporters act as watchdogs, not lapdogs,” Donoghue said. He lauded Scott’s transparency at an estimated 90 press conferences since the pandemic began. “I’m going to pass on questions today, and my wife and I will wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.”

Longwinded reporters warned – Citing time concerns, Scott Administration Communications Director Rebecca Kelley repeatedly has asked reporters to be succinct – often with little luck. “If we continue to have to cut short those reporters at the end of the queue, we’re going to have to reconsider the format to ensure more equal time is given across outlets,” Kelley said in an email to reporters 10 minutes before today’s call.

To emphasize her point, Kelley included a spreadsheet listing reporters’ question(s) at the last presser, and – most important – how long the exchange took. Apart from the rushed minute-or-less allotted to the final three reporters, Vermont Daily had the briefest exchange: two minutes flat. The longest was Donoghue, whose four, unsurprisingly insistent questions consumed eight minutes, 30 seconds.

Second longest was VT Digger’s Lola Duffert: four questions, eight minutes. The four VT Digger reporters on the call took 18 minutes, 15 seconds. The four reporters for WCAX needed just shy of 15 minutes combined.

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

Image courtesy of state of Vermont

18 thoughts on “Schools to quiz students, parents about Thanksgiving travel

  1. Is there anyone aware of this recent edict who still thinks Chairman Phil is not a power-hungry tyrant, other than his PR team of Gilhooly, Freitag, and Cassady?

    Happy Thanksgiving to all lovers of liberty and the Constitutions.

  2. What next Governor Scott? Locking us into our houses for Christmas? The jolly old fat man in the red suit he has several comorbidities you know. He must be protected from himself and his desire to make children and families happy. Be careful that last bit of joy isn’t sucked from peoples lives. Safety at the loss of freedom is worthless.

  3. Someone from Vermont just called this situation into the Howie Carr show.
    Howie asked the guy when these laws went through Legislation?
    Are these kids going to put under oath?
    Are they going to be jailed until they are 18 years old if found to be lying?

  4. “Objects in history may be closer than they appear” – Eeyore for Vlad

    This would be an excellent post for parents in Vermont to write their own stories about having to reeducate their children after especially intense periods of Marxist brainwashing.

    Many parents have relayed stories about how their children were told to report back to the school if, for example, the family had the wrong kinds of appliances, which would allegedly lead to ‘global-warming’ for using too much power.

    This Stalin-Orwellian treatment by schools, using children as Stasi against their own families, is becoming more the rule than the exception.

    But there would likely be catharsis for others to know they are not alone in the constant battle to instill critical thought in their children as opposed to critical theory.

    So please do. The time to really make this kind of event known is now before it is simply accepted as the new normal.

    The ship is slowly turning.

    The more hands on the helm the easier it is for each of us to steer away from the iceberg.

  5. Scott and his advisors have lost sight of the situation. It seems their goal is zero cases of Covid 19,
    no matter the cost to society. It certainly is an unobtainable goal and the cost to Vermont for Phil’s fear is astronomical. We are led to focus on number of cases and number of tests to determine success or failure in combatting this virus. Wrong. Perhaps focus should be more as outlined in the Great Barrington Declaration, of protecting those vulnerable Vermonters, reducing or eliminating current restrictions and allowing herd Immunity to develop, along with vaccination- should the Good Dr. Levine find one to his liking. This current fear- based policy of shutdowns, restrictions and “Data-driven” decisions just isn’t going to work. Yes, people are dying from this virus. Death is not to be taken lightly. We know the risk factors now- and can adjust and protect the vulnerable. The survival rate for Covid 19 is 99.5% plus, depending on age group- but your policy seems to be based on an assumption that everyone will die from this virus. Your data doesn’t tell us how many asymptomatic or mild cases there are- it only tells us how many positive tests there have been. Using children and employers to police for “Thanksgiving scofflaws” is truly over-reach on Scott’s part. The virus is going to spread, Phil. You sir, are incapable of altering that fact to any large degree- short of jailing all of us in our homes for months, collapsing society and allowing anarchy to flourish.
    It is long past the time to establish a realistic policy for your state, Phil. One that protects, not instills fear.

  6. Herr Scott’s ideas sounding more like the East German Stasi… using children to rat on the parents.. Wow, what’s next?

    • This is rotten to the core.

      Damn this virus – which has been the perfect foil for these NEW Dictatorships.

      Demanding that a 3d grader should rat out his parents is so far from American life, that it seems more like Red China Or Cuba, Venezuela! Hitler youth, brown shirts.

      It’s a Brave New World at Animal Farm. Atlas just Shrugged – and said to hell with it all!

    • If questioning the potentially incriminating whereabouts of one’s parents during Thanksgiving is fair game, just think of the future realm of possibilities for other questions to be asked of our children by their ‘educators’.

      “Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.” Orwell – 1984

      We can no longer claim innocence. ‘We have met the enemy, and it is us.’

  7. Okay folks, let’s put this in perspective again, this virus has a 99.5% rate of survival. If a person has preexisting health issues, then it is up to them to stay away from people. Locking us all down is the stupidest thing ever. I can see this happening for years to come, first it will be Covid, then the flu and maybe even a cold going around town. As a person who has experienced Covid. even with asthma, I pulled through on my own, doctors did not help at all because this was right at the beginning of the crisis. So let us people make up their own minds how we want to live our lives and quarantine the elderly and susceptible. Destroying the country and peoples’ livelihood is not worth it unless you are some leftist one world order person. Oh that would be Phil Scott, what a waste of a human he is.

  8. Re: “This is fair warning. If you’re planning on having gatherings outside your households, if you don’t want to have your kids in remote learning and quarantine for a seven-day period, maybe you should make other plans. I’m not sure it’s ‘tattling’ on anyone.”

    It’s not ‘tattling’. This is a threat. Period. It’s egregious, because Mr. Scott can’t guaranty (nor has he any evidence) that the public safety will improve as a result of his directive. That families visiting one another over Thanksgiving will double Covid cases is pure speculation. Note that neither he nor the State accepts any responsibility for the outcomes.

    Think of it. Scott and the State are threatening parents with the coercion of their children’s involvement in a political tyranny, all in the name of an outcome they can’t guaranty. Why, for example, wouldn’t Scott just tell parents, if they partake in a family gathering on Thanksgiving, they should stay out of school for 7 days? As though keeping the children out of school guarantees anything anyway.

    This can only be described as a sinister circumvention of our constitutional right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, based on the presumption that we can’t make our own reasonable judgement.
    I am reminded, yet again, as others have been recently, of a C.S. Lewis observation.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.… those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

    And this from T.S. Eliot.
    “Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them.”

    I can only hope that Mr. Scott and his statist advisers reconsider this oppression.

    • It occurs to me, after more thought, that the perpetrators of this tyranny are the teacher unions, the principal’s and superintendent associations. No, I have no proof. But since when did having proof of anything matter.

      Demand School Choice. Then we can at least save our children from this tyranny.

      • I couldn’t agree more, we need school choice. The big public education monopoly and Montpelier politicians have a cozy little arrangement.

  9. If I were a parent in this situation I would instruct my child to simply answer, “Please call my parents” and nothing more. When the school calls I would emphatically say, “Where I and my family go is NOT your Business!”
    I emphatically believe we should all wear masks in public until this thing is corralled, but this is going way to far and way, way too invasive!!

    • This thing IS Corralled!
      CASES don’t matter.
      Less than 1% of the people that get this wind up dying.

      Large amounts of dying people matter.
      Do you see that happening?

      The average age of the people that are dying is over 80 years old!
      Your fear is not all of societies problem..stay home if you are scared.
      Young people raising families need a normal society out here..they need schools, jobs, a proper education, hope for a future. Unless you want to live in an impoverished state full of dangerous people that are mentally ill or desperate.. because that is where this is going.
      If I were you, I’d be a whole lot more scared of that than catching a flu with a 99.8% recovery rate.

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