COVID-19: Windsor OKs indoor mask mandate; Vt. Law School requires boosters

  • Tunbridge, Vt., Town Clerk Mariah Cilley locks up the town offices following some office work on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. Cilley is working from home during the most recent COVID-19 surge and her office is only open by appointment. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/26/2022 9:37:08 PM
Modified: 1/26/2022 9:35:53 PM

WINDSOR — The Windsor Selectboard unanimously approved a temporary indoor mask mandate in places open to the public at its meeting on Tuesday.

The 5-0 vote marks a reversal from the board’s 3-2 rejection of a similar measure at a meeting last month. At that meeting, the board instead opted for a mask recommendation.

Selectboard Chairman Michael McNaughton and board members Ryan Palmer and Jeffery Johnson all switched from opposing a mandate last month to supporting one this week.

Town Manager Tom Marsh said in a Wednesday email that he thought it was “an impassioned plea” from Jill Lord, director of community health at Windsor’s Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, that made the difference.

Lord asked the board “to support a mandate at least for a few weeks to help manage the anticipated spike in cases that is being forecast in February, before the forecasted decline,” Marsh said. “All members seemed to think a short-term change was reasonable as long as there was no enforcement language and that the board would revisit the issue within 30 days.”

The board is expected to discuss the mandate again on Feb. 22.

Elsewhere, the Thetford Selectboard on Monday voted unanimously to extend the town’s mask mandate through Feb. 26, according to the board’s chairwoman.

The town requires that masks are worn in public indoor spaces, Sharon Harkay, the board’s chairwoman, wrote in a Listserv post.

The town has been supplying masks to stores, so if people forget them, they can take one from a box, she said.

Vermont Law School to require boosters

SOUTH ROYALTON — Vermont Law School will require its employees and students to receive COVID-19 boosters by Feb. 28 unless they qualify for medical or religious exemptions, according to the interim president.

The school returned to in-person learning this week, after beginning the spring semester remotely earlier this month to allow time for students and employees to be tested for COVID-19.

In her statement announcing the booster requirement, Interim President and Dean Beth McCormack credited employees’ and students’ diligence in following policies requiring masks, testing and vaccines with allowing the school to resume in-person learning in the fall. The school’s policies are based on recommendations of the Vermont Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which both now recommend boosters, she said.

The South Royalton school joins several other area institutions, including Dartmouth College and Colby-Sawyer College, in requiring boosters.

Dartmouth’s requirement goes into effect Jan. 31 and Colby-Sawyer’s Feb. 15.

Thetford Elementary reopens

THETFORD — Thetford Elementary School reopened on Wednesday after being closed Tuesday due to COVID-19-related absences in employees, according to school officials.

The school was closed Tuesday because with so few staff, school officials were left with “an inability to safely open our building,” said Randy Gawel, Orange East Supervisory Union’s assistant superintendent.

“We share your frustration with all that we are faced with as a community in recent months, but hope that the worst is now receding and that we are moving forward to better times,” Gawel wrote.

Thetford Elementary also was among the OESU schools closed for at least a couple of days earlier this month.

Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics resume

WEST LEBANON — The former JCPenney store off Route 12A will continue to serve as a COVID-19 vaccination site through February, according to the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley.

The walk-in clinic for people age 5 and older will run on Thursday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at the former store at 250 N. Plainfield Road in West Lebanon. All three authorized vaccines will be available: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. There is no residency requirement. No appointment or insurance required.

After this week, clinics at the site will continue through February on Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and Fridays from noon-6 p.m.

The clinics are being run by Dartmouth-Hitchcock in partnership with New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services and with the Lebanon and Hanover fire departments.

Long-term care outbreaks grow

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Outbreaks of COVID-19 in Twin State long-term care facilities increased over the past week.

The total number of outbreaks in Vermont had grown to 25 on Tuesday, up 10 from the week prior, according to the Vermont Department of Health. New Hampshire reported a total of 47 outbreaks on Wednesday, up from 24 last week.

In the Upper Valley, White River Junction facilities Valley Terrace and The Village at White River Junction each had six cases. Meanwhile, Springfield (Vt.) Rivers Nursing & Rehabilitation had 10 cases.

Meanwhile, Elm Wood Center in Claremont had 10 cases, including six residents and four workers, while Grafton County Nursing Home in North Haverhill had 14 cases, including two residents and 12 workers.

Weathersfield town office reopens

WEATHERSFIELD — The town office reopened on Tuesday after being closed for in-person services last week due to COVID-19 exposure, according to the town’s Facebook page.

Masks continue to be mandatory inside town buildings.

Haverhill library puts bookmark in story time

NORTH HAVERHILL — Patten-North Haverhill Library has paused its story time until further notice due the increase of COVID-19 cases in the area, according to its Facebook page.

The librarian plans to post videos to the library’s Facebook page most weeks.

The pause comes as Woodsville Elementary School was closed due to COVID-19 cases at least through Wednesday of this week.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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