Scott administration officially advises personal choice on masking

Michael Bielawski/TNR

KIDS CAN TAKE THEM OFF: As of March 14, the state of Vermont is recommending that personal choice dictate mask policies, for schools and elsewhere, regardless of vaccination status.

The Scott administration is formally advising that Vermonters — in schools and elsewhere — resort to personal choice when it comes to wearing a face mask or not, be it indoors or outdoors.

“On March 14 our guidance around masking will be updated both in schools and for all Vermonters,” state epidemiologist Patsy Kelso said. “The decision to wear a mask will be up to each person based on their own circumstances and health needs. As Dr. Levine has already said, we all have different levels of risk and we need to navigate them in our own way at our pace.”

Other policy recommendations were updated, including if someone tests positive for the virus, the person is recommended to stay home for five days. The door was left open for future COVID regulations.

“If a new variant emerges that is cause for concern, we’ll revisit public health guidance,” Kelso said.

Secretary of Education Dan French reiterated that schools will be expected to let individuals choose their own masking policies.

“Our goal has been to eliminate separate mitigation recommendations for schools and instead have them follow the broader recommended mitigations for all Vermonters,” French said. “This idea of eliminating school-specific guidance was endorsed by the  Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and recently U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.”

He said the shift will help to refocus on students’ education needs.

“Making this shift will allow us to put a higher priority on addressing the learning and social-emotional needs of our students,” he said. “So starting March 14, we will not recommend schools follow any additional mitigations or requirements other than those that are being recommended for all Vermonters. This means masks will be optional for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status and this will apply to school buses as well.”

He added that individual school administrations can still adopt their own masking policies. He also said testing policies specific to schools would eventually be phased out as well.

In responding to a reporter, the governor weighed in on getting schools back to normal.

“I think it’s time that we get back to some kind of normal,” Gov. Phil Scott said. “For kids, in particular, [they can] see their classmates’ faces again, their facial expressions, to socially interact, and not be in a constant state of fear.”

Scott was asked about younger children who can’t be vaccinated. He responded that natural immunity may be offering more protection to unvaccinated populations than previously thought.

“I saw some percentage that was surprising in some respects because Omicron has been so transmissible and so mild that I’m not sure that we even knew that kids had it,” Scott said.

Kelso agreed on this point.

“Overall what we’ve seen with Omicron and COVID in general since 2019 is that it does not cause severe illness in the vast majority of children who are otherwise healthy,” she said. “And discussions that I’ve had with pediatric infectious disease healthcare providers … they think it’s somewhat likely that some percentage of that age group of kids will get COVID, but they are not really concerned about them having a severe illness or lots of them ending up in the hospital.”

In recent press conferences, the administration has had to repeatedly remind the public that all COVID policies since the end of the state of emergency declaration from last year have been recommendations.

“When we do make that recommendation it will be just that — a recommendation,” French said two weeks back, in regards to previous masking policies.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of The White House and Michael Bielawski/TNR

9 thoughts on “Scott administration officially advises personal choice on masking

  1. Governor Scott has received a tremendous amount of criticism from Democratic leaders and liberal press in Vermont for not taking more aggressive actions including mandates that would have required keeping us in a state of emergency. This further step towards a return to normal will likely result in more second guessing by Democrats and Progressives who have attempted at times to make this a political issue,
    Nonetheless, Governor Scott and his teams handling of the pandemic has drawn widespread support and appreciation from most Vermonters

    • Just where is that “criticism” supposedly levied by Dems? It hasn’t been in any news outlet. Perhaps it merely takes imagination.

  2. Chairman Phil is just trying to look good. While he says this, his administration is secretly urging schools, businesses, and hospitals to maintain masking.

  3. All those brains lost to permanent oxygen depletion, so little time… but, mission accomplished…for two years.
    Dumbed down by lack of oxygen.
    Do your homework on how long term deprivation affects the brain, and whether or not you EVER recover from that…mission accomplished. Permanent dumbing down of all Vermont future generations.

    But hey… let bygone be bygones. Nothing to see here folks.
    (Except a bunch of criminals trying to rewrite history).

  4. Unfortunately, I doubt this article will be a post-script on SARS-CoV-2.
    Coronaviruses have been and will be with us, forever. Now that viruses can be weaponized to suit a political agenda and goal, the fear machine will be always ready to roll out and achieve the goal.
    Perhaps just prior to November’s elections, yet another variant will emerge, to impart fear into voters.
    For now, Russian invasions and energy prices seem to have diverted the news cycle.
    Spoiler alert: If not for biden’s dismantling of US energy policy, Putin would be still trying to get the billions needed for his assault into Ukraine. The US taxpayer and energy consumer are funding this invasion.

  5. Oh, and a question for you Secretary French, one that ive asked many times…why were “vaccinated ” children excluded from test to stay protocols despite the fact they were always still able to be infected and transmit the virus? Pure data manipulation. You might be retiring, but you can still be tried and found guilty.

  6. The science has never changed. Anyone who did their own research couldve deciphered this from the very beginning. People who spoke before about what the administration now admits about the virus, transmission, vulnerability, mortality rates and natural immunity were called misinformation spreaders. Most media outlets and public health officials should feel ashamed and face accountability. The same goes for adverse reactions and deaths associated with the mrna injections. Those facts are still just beginning to trickle out in the same mainstream, many government funded news outlets. Any individuals or outlets associated with this real misinformation should be held accountable, including the cdc, fda, who, faucci, scott, Levine, wcax, wptz, npr, vpr…just to name a few. No one should trust any of these people. Its never been about health.

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