At Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s COVID-19 briefing today, the key topics were the state’s plan to create an education hub program and a new coronavirus outbreak that the health department is investigating.
Vermont K-12 schools begin classes next Tuesday with most planning a hybrid schedule. Both access to broadband and child care for working families have surfaced as potential problems so the state has been working to create the Vermont Remote Education Hub Program. Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith says the state is essentially creating a new, temporary child care and remote education system to fill a need during the COVID crisis. “The hubs are responsible for connecting children to their education. The educational services will be delivered by the school system. Hub sites must have access to wifi and will support children connecting to their classes. This is in addition to providing children a safe enriching environment to spend their day on remote learning days.”
So far hubs have been set up in eight counties and more may come on line after the first day of school September 8th.
A second issue covered Tuesday is an outbreak of COVID-19 associated with people who attended a private party in Killington on August 19th. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine: “To date we have identified 14 cases among people who were at the party and among their close contacts which means the virus has spread to people who were not at the party. Our expert contact tracing team has been working to reach the more than 40 people who were at the party.”
Dr. Levine said contact tracers are attempting to reach both Vermonters and out of state individuals who attended the party. “We know the names that we want to address and because the venue was so good at keeping the records that we asked them to, and then more recently we’ve gotten information from the hosts of the party, we have phone numbers that we can rely on no matter where the person’s located.”
When Gov. Scott began limited reopening of restaurants and bars in May, the requirements included operators must “… maintain a log of customers and their contact information for 30 days in the event contact tracing is required….”. Scott says Summit Lodge, where the party was held, is an example why it’s important to follow the state protocols. “I wanted to compliment the lodge in Killington for being forthright, for being helpful, doing what they were supposed to do, providing the names of those who participated. I think it does highlight for those establishments that are tiring of writing down all the names and keeping track this is exactly why we need that to happen. Because it can not only help protect the families of those who have been part of the experience in one of these establishments but also helping other states when they go back home. We want to protect them as well. So it’s just a good idea and it’s proved itself to be essential.”
A COVID-19 testing clinic is scheduled Wednesday in Rutland City. Registration is required. Additional testing is being arranged.