By Guy Page
At least seven Vermont school districts say they will hold in-person learning Monday and will not ask children if they were part of multi-household gatherings over the Thanksgiving vacation, as directed by State of Vermont Covid-19 guidelines.
The following districts will not ask children the “Thanksgiving question,” per responses to a Vermont Daily inquiry emailed Saturday night to 37 superintendents:
Grand Isle Supervisory District, serving the towns of Alburgh, Isle LaMotte, Grand Isle, North Hero, and South Hero.
Franklin Southwest, serving Fairfax, Fletcher and Georgia
Addison Northwest, serving Vergennes, Ferrisburg, and Addison
Slate Valley Unified, serving Benson, Castleton, Fair Haven, Hubbardton, and West Haven in Rutland County, and Orwell in Addison County.
Franklin Northeast, serving Bakersfield, Berkshire, Enosburg, Montgomery, Richford, and Sheldon
According to WCAX news coverage:
Mt. Anthony, serving Bennington, Pownal, Shaftesbury and Woodford
Champlain Valley, serving Charlotte, Hinesburg, St. George, Williston and Shelburne.
Several other districts – including Rutland City – plan to go to remote learning all week. Rutland Northeast (Brandon, Chittenden, Goshen, Leicester, Mendon, Pittsford, Sudbury and Whiting) surveyed parents over the weekend, will do remote learning today, and will decide today how to proceed for the rest of the week.
Almost every district said they were in compliance with Tuesday’s Scott administration directive, which they said gives discretion to the school district. They will ask parents “the question” as part of the daily health screening, and expect parents to keep children home for 7-14 days if the answer is yes.
But the seven districts draw the line at asking the children.
“The Governor’s order, and the subsequent guidance from the Agency of Education, potentially thrust our young children into adult conversations and decisions, which is not appropriate,” Georgia Elementary School principals Julie Conrad and Steve Emery wrote in a Nov. 25 letter to parents. “It also potentially sets up situations where being dishonest could take precedence over our working together to meet every student and family’s individual needs, and that is not a practice that is in keeping with the character we encourage in our students and each other.”
Addison Northwest staff won’t be asked either, Supt. Sheila Soule said: “Due to the many variable scenarios that a household may have, at this time we will not be asking our students and staff this question as part of the daily health screening.”
“We won’t be asking the question on Monday as part of our normal screening process,” Slate Valley Supt. Brooke Olsen-Farrell said. “This puts school staff in a terrible position and threatens to irreversibly harm our relationships with families.” The directive seemingly isn’t just about Thanksgiving and is likely to extend well beyond the holiday, she added.
At last Friday’s press conference, Gov. Scott acknowledged the strong grassroots pushback against asking children where and how they spent Thanksgiving, and suggested it struck a “guilt nerve” or a “resistance nerve” among Vermonters.
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.