COVID-19: Vermont’s students will continue remote learning for remainder of the school year

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Vermont’s students won’t be returning to school this year — at least not in person. 

Gov. Phil Scott announced Thursday he was closing all schools for in-person instruction for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year in another measure to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19. Students will continue learning remotely for the remainder of the year. 

Scott’s directive extends his previous order closing schools, which was supposed to last until April 6.

School districts will be tasked with coming up with a plan for distance learning by April 13. 

“While we are disappointed and saddened, we understand the fierce urgency of maintaining the health and safety of all our students, educators, school administrators, parents, and all Vermonters,” said Don Tinney, a high school English teacher who serves as president of the Vermont-NEA, the teachers’ union. 

Scott will hold a news conference Friday at 11 a.m. to discuss this latest measure.

“The education of our students and the bonding and learning experiences they have at schools are tremendously important, so I fully appreciate the impact and difficulty of this decision,” Scott said in a statement.

The Agency of Education will provide guidance to districts by the end of the week on how to implement continuity of learning plans. These plans will specifically address issues such as equitable access to learning opportunities, education for students with disabilities, continuation of school meals and school attendance.

Tinney said the teachers’ union is prioritizing three things: the health and safety of students, families, and the school community; continuing food distribution to students who need it; and ensuring employees do not miss paychecks. 

“There are many questions that need to be tackled as we prepare for the orderly closure of our schools, and rest assured there is no fiercer advocate for students – and educators – than the members of Vermont-NEA,” Tinney wrote in his statement.

Contact Elizabeth Murray at 802-651-4835 or emurray@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizMurrayBFP.

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