Superintendent: Vermont schools won’t have staff to open by late August

By Guy Page

Lack of staff will render many if not most Vermont school districts unable to open as scheduled by the last week of August, a Washington County school superintendent predicts. Teachers and staff are applying to opt out of in-person instruction, she said.

According to a July 25 letter posted on the district website by Harwood Unified Union School District Superintendent Brigid Nease, The Vermont Agency of Education on July 22 surveyed Vermont superintendents, “Would you support an executive order mandating that schools not begin any instructional operations (in-person, remote or hybrid) earlier than 9/8?” At present, Wednesday, Aug. 26 is scheduled as the first full day of instruction in most districts.

Guy Page

Only six of 49 superintendents responding answered “no.” And why aren’t school district leaders ready to open before Sept. 8? Nease explains: “Let’s not forget the big elephant in the room — having a workforce to operate. So, while I cannot provide the survey response data, I can say that out of 49 superintendents responding only 6 said no. Why? Because I am pretty certain that there is not a superintendent in this state that knows with certainty that they can staff their school.”

Given the uncertainty, Nease plans a temporary “toe-dipping” school schedule for her district — three days on, two off for students, four days on, one off for staff, while the problems of safely teaching classrooms of children during a pandemic get sorted out. But even this tentative plan seems to lack teacher/staff support:

“At the end [of a teacher/staff meeting last week attended by 150 via Zoom] I took a poll asking should we move to a 3-2 for students and a 4-1 for staff? Not a single hand was raised, and this isn’t because staff don’t want to come back to work or don’t agree that especially younger students desperately need to be in school. It is because these problems I am sharing today seem insurmountable at the local level.”

School employees seem to be voting with their feet. “Letters of resignation, requests for leaves of absence, Family Medical Leave (FMLA), Emergency Family Medical Leave (EFML),  Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL), Exemption status, and leave under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) (which provides up to 12 weeks of leave for employees unable to work because their child’s school is closed)  are coming in, Nease said.

“The truth is most school employees are scared to death they will get sick (or worse), bring the virus home to loved ones, have a student in their care become ill, or experience the death of a coworker. However, the even bigger reason for leave requests is the untenable position this state has put school employees in by creating homegrown reopening schedules that do not align. Many Vermont school employees work in districts different from those they live in. They have their own children in several grade levels in schools throughout the state.”

In addition to concerns about health and questions about how to “do school” under masking and social distancing, and hygiene requirements, childcare is looming as a major issue. “Childcare for all families and school employees is a huge problem that crosses many district geographical boundaries. This is a significant statewide problem in need of a significant statewide solution made by those that have the authority to do so, at the top of the food chain, not individual community administrators and local school boards.”

The problem of when and how to open school must be resolved at the state level by the Scott administration and the teachers’ union, the superintendent said. “This one superintendent respectfully recommends that the only way out is through, by having the Scott administration, the AOE, and the VTNEA take this bull by the horns and lean into it.”

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

Image courtesy of Harwood Unified Union School District

14 thoughts on “Superintendent: Vermont schools won’t have staff to open by late August

  1. Teachers Unions Want Wealth Taxes, Charter School Bans, and Medicare-for-all Before Schools Can Reopen

    What does this have to do with safely educating kids in the midst of a pandemic? Not much.However it’s the dream of the Marxist NEA and don’t think Vermonts teachers are different or special in their want’s or goals.

    https://reason.com/2020/07/28/teachers-unions-want-wealth-taxes-charter-school-bans-and-medicaid-for-all-before-schools-can-reopen/?utm_medium=email

  2. So Superintendent of Vermont schools won’t have staff to open by late August, why ??

    I believe they have pro rated salary, and are still receiving medical benefits until August
    so are they refusing to work in August ” Per Contract ” ??

    There is no reason why schools cannot open with Federal Guide lines ?? or is the just
    another political move ” Ploy ” for the Superintendent.

    If schools don’t open, then I want my school tax dollars back as the money will not
    be needed.

  3. Breitbart had a piece up yesterday: “Child psychiatrist says coronavirus fears “Not based on Reality”; This is Child Abuse.”

    This was Dr. Mark McDonald, a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist in West Los Angeles CA.
    He said this at the “White Coat Summit” that just took place. (Oh, to have attended that one)

    There is a huge amount of news being suppressed from the people in Vermont and I wonder if they understand this. NH is right across the river and with a different viewpoint- proven by how things are moving towards being fairly normal over here..
    Now why would that be? Maybe because we have different media over here that isn’t trying to scare us?
    The state of Vermont has gone right along with this and fueled it. And for what? The state has had 56 deaths of people largely in nursing homes. A lot of these people were older and sick people, if they didn’t pass on from this, it would have been the next thing.

    Doctors out there that are saying this is now an “Irrational Fear” that has been created.
    There are The Facts, and then there are the Politics about The Facts.
    They are two different things and how many understand this?
    If these teachers are “scared to death” and these are TEACHERS, then what does this say about the teachers in the state?
    Some are saying we are going to be dealing with a post traumatic stress situation.. and I think from reading this article and the teachers responses, someone ought to take a look at just what these people are reading to have them all so scared. Maybe it’s the VTDigger? And what responsibilty should they be forced to own for scaring the hell out of people to the degree that school cannot even start?
    How about people start holding that place accountable?

    There are going to be a lot of teachers after this that don’t belong in classrooms, they’ll be protected by the Unions too.
    Maybe we do need Red Flag Laws- For us to use For irrationally scared Teachers, to protect the kids from them.

    “Fear is a Reaction, Courage is a Decision”
    –Winston Churchill

  4. As always, the public educator monopoly can’t figure it out. “[H]ow to open school must be resolved at the State level….”.

    Now is the time for parents to “take the bull by the horns”. Consider Outschool: the marketplace of live online classes for K-12 learners where families choose their teachers and their classes based on their needs and interests. https://outschool.com/about#abkd4zh32o

  5. #DefundPublicEducation

    I’m with you Laura and with Trump on giving the money to parents to teach their kids as they see fit, not a state mandate. This would also be a blessing for the property tax which is paying fot
    the white albatross in the room, failed over bloated state sponsored indoctrination..

    Cut the cord now while they don’t want to work and we don’t have to pay them.. It would also be a big hit to D’s and P’s campaign funds to prolong the albatross…

  6. This may be a silly question, but if the schools don’t open in the fall, will the taxpayers get the educational portion of their property taxes refunded?
    The last thing I would want to see are the lackluster teachers refusing to return to school, which is their right, but demanding to be paid for staying home, which is not their right.

    • Mark you can be sure the VT-NEA will never let that happen. Rest assured you are on the hook regardless if the teachers show up this fall or not. That’s life in a state run by the unions.

  7. I’ve never understood why Teachers think they are so much more valuable or important than anyone else that is vital to our communities success.

    I was booking an appointment one time at work and trying to squeeze this lady in, she barked at me to get it done “Because I am a TEACHER You KNOW!!”
    She actually said to me. I was shocked at her arrogance and rudeness. Especially since I was already going out of my way to try and help her.

    Do they think the first responders, the medical staff in the hospital, how about the people that clean the hospital, dentists, don’t they think everyone else is concerned too? How would you like to be a Police Officer right now?
    But they are all not pitching a fit and refusing to work.

    The best think we could do at this point is give the parents the funding to follow the child and support them in what they can put together on their own.
    These schools and teachers are showing us who they really are and it’s no wonder our country is a mess now.
    I’m really disgusted with these people- and none of this right now is new, they are just more openly showing us who and what they really are.

    #DefundPublicEducation

  8. So now school employees don’t want to ‘follow the science’. If schools don’t fully open, salaries should be reduced and parents of school-aged children should receive the difference.

    Half of the Bureaucrats in the Dept of Education should be laid off. Sorry, but we have no need for deputy assistant vice principals.

  9. This is part and parcel of the Marxist based National Education Association,if the teachers do not want to teach,then find another job.
    The teachers who don’t want to teach should be fired wholesale,so they can find another line of work that suits them, this is NEA sponsored Bravo Sierra.

  10. So hold on here… we have grocery store workers going to work but teachers refuse to? You know the teachers and their elite status would be the first to complain if they went to the grocery store and it was closed because the local 911 grocery store of American union said it wasn’t safe to go to work….

    Please crocodile tears

  11. I can’t think of anything that will harm public education more than its failure to bring kids back to school. That is not necessarily a bad outcome. Most of the rioters out in the streets have been taught by their schools that our nation is evil and must be destroyed and rebuilt. If the President follows through and gives cash vouchers to parents of kids whose schools refuse to open, those schools will become ghost towns as parents seek private, religious, or charter schools that want to teach and that will teach useful subjects, not just spout propaganda.

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