Vermont Gov. Phil Scott will issue an executive order later this week setting Sept. 8 as a universal start date for students to return back to school in the fall.
Scott said that he and Health Department Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine set a goal seven weeks ago to return to in-person instruction in the fall.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Levine said he is confident in opening schools.
“We have achieved a stage of viral suppression that will allow us to open schools comfortably,” Levine said.
The health commissioner said that if he were in Arizona, Texas, Florida or any other state facing high outbreaks of positive coronavirus cases, they would not be having the conversation about opening schools.
Levine cited studies carried out around the world showing no significant transmission of Covid-19 within schools, that younger children are less likely to transmit Covid-19 and that adults in a family are more likely to “be the index case in the affected family.”
“It is the youngest children up to age 9, who are not only at lowest risk, but stand to reap the most benefit from the in-person learning environment,” Levine said. He emphasized that there is not a clear cut one-size-fits-all approach to how schools plan to open and explained that each schools will be customizing solutions to fit their specific classroom and student body needs.
In conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, Levine issued a statement on Monday calling on schools in the state to prioritize in-person attendance for students in preschool through fifth grade.