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Support system for remote learning grows

Associated Press
Published: 9/25/2020 9:51:56 PM
Modified: 9/25/2020 9:51:45 PM

A system to provide child care to Vermont children during the COVID-19 pandemic so parents can return to work on days their children aren’t in school is continuing to expand, officials said Friday.

Speaking at Gov. Phil Scott’s virus briefing Friday, Holly Morehouse of the organization Vermont Afterschool says that in one month, they have established 35 hubs in 87 locations serving more than 5,000 children from almost 110 towns and more than 130 schools.

The system was designed by officials at afterschool programs, parks and recreation departments, child care centers and others working with state officials.

“We knew that after months of being out of school children needed access to programming, opportunities to play and learn with others in safe, caring spaces,” Morehouse said. “We also knew that parents and family members needed to be able to return to work.”

The state is using $12 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to increase the capacity of the school-age child care system in Vermont for children and youth in grades K-6 who need a safe place during remote school learning days. The money includes almost $7 million for the hubs and almost $5 million is for expanding the Child Care Financial Assistance Program. All the programs follow the state’s COVID-19 health and safety guidance.

Schools

Low levels of the virus that causes COVID-19 in Vermont are allowing the state’s schools to use more school facilities, such as cafeterias, and more mixing of students. The phase begins on Saturday, a date designed to allow for the resumption of interscholastic sports. Education Secretary Daniel French said schools must continue to use basic mitigation strategies for the virus, such as the wearing of masks and proper distancing.

While the state is moving to Step 3 of its virus plan, there is no Step 4, although he said officials would be regularly looking at the details of the mitigation plans, French said.

“We will probably be in this extended period with mitigation strategies for some time,” French said.

Flu shots

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said the health department had ordered extra doses of the flu vaccine for the upcoming flu season and he urged everyone aged 6 months and older to get one.

He said officials don’t know how common it could become to catch both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

“I think we’d all agree we don’t really want to get both,” Levine said. “We also don’t know whether a surge in cases of COVID and the flu could happen at the same time, the so-called twindemic, that could realistically overwhelm anybody’s health care system and put people at risk.”

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NUMBERS

On Friday the Vermont Health Department reported seven new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to more than 1,730.

Of the new cases, three were reported in Chittenden County, two in Windsor County and one each in Bennington and Franklin counties.

It has been 59 days since Vermont reported its last COVID-19 fatality. The number remains at 58.




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