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Governor Scott’s weekly briefing includes update on school COVID testing program

Vermont Statehouse
WAMC/Pat Bradley
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The Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier

Vermont Governor Phil Scott and members of his administration provided a wide-ranging update during his weekly briefing this morning.

For the past few weeks Vermont’s weekly briefing has focused on the new school year and how educators are working to keep students’ in-person return to classes safe in the midst of the pandemic. Education Secretary Dan French said the agency’s current focus is the rollout of the Test To Stay program in schools across the state.

“Test To Stay will be a promising solution to try to minimize the spread in schools while at the same time doing a better job at keeping our students in school. That being said there’s still a lot of moving parts for implementing Test To Stay," said French. "I met with the leadership of the School Nurses’ Association last week and it was one of the points they wanted me to emphasize. It will take some time to implement Test To Stay. Not all districts will be able to move forward as quickly as others and parents and students should be patient as we work through the logistical issues to implement the program.”

Governor Phil Scott joined the briefing after he wrapped up his biweekly call with the White House and National Governors Association. Scott echoed calls from the CDC director urging people get vaccinations for both COVID-19 and the flu.

“They expect this to be a more severe flu season. After a mild one last year people don’t have the antibodies necessary to ward this off. And she reiterated as well that it’s safe to have a flu shot and a booster at the same time.”

While Canada opened its land border to U.S. travelers in August, the U.S has not reciprocated and the border remains closed to Canadians until at least October 21st. Governor Scott said during the call Washington State Democratic Governor Jay Inslee asked about allowing Canadians to travel into the U.S. Scott said northern border governors were frustrated that the White House simply said they are working on it.

“They’re actually better protected at this point than we are in the states in Canada. So I fail to see where this would be an issue. You know you can fly in from another country as well as from Canada. But that’s not what we need," Scott said. "We need to open the border up to allow for safe travel into our bordering states because they’re part of our economy as well.”

There have been at least three incidents at school athletic events in which racial slurs and taunting have occurred. Last week referees stopped a Burlington girls’ volleyball game because of the vitriol from the stands. Governor Scott said a uniform statewide response is needed to confront the growing racial and homophobic incidents during scholastic sports.

“We can’t tolerate this. This isn’t something that kids should be subjected to and we should stop it in its tracks when it happens." Scott continued, "Having said that I just want to make sure that we’re not encouraging that type of behavior to throw a game so to speak. I mean we just have to be careful on how we implement this and make sure it’s the right solution.”

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