Scott closes child care centers to most starting Wednesday, COVID positives up to 17 Urges private centers, orders others to care for children of 'essential persons'

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

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It was a seemingly quiet day on the Vermont coronavirus beat with scarcely a peep from the any of the authorities involved in containing the pandemic. Until 6:57 p.m. when the Health Department sent out its daily update with numbers but no statement that the state had five new cases today, the biggest jump in cases in Vermont to date.

Then just before 7:30 p.m., Gov. Phil Scott issued a directive saying that “all state regulated child care programs shall be closed no later than Wednesday, March 18, 2020 through April 6, 2020,”  ordering schools under the authority of the Agency of Education and state licensed child care centers to “provide services for the children of essential persons.” Scott asked private childcare centers and schools to do the same.

“Teachers, childcare providers and school support staff are going to be as critical to our response as our doctors, nurses and healthcare support staff,” Scott said in the press release. “That’s why, even as we ask the public to step back to help slow the spread of this virus, we are asking others, including our educators and child care providers, to step in and provide a critical service so those who are on the frontlines of our response can continue to care for the sick, protect the public and manage this evolving challenge. I am incredibly proud of the selflessness of these public servants at this time of need.”

According to the press release, essential persons are defined as:

  • Providers of health care including, but not limited to, workers at clinics, hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, nursing homes, long-term care and post-acute care facilities, respite houses, VNAs, designated agencies and emergency medical services;
  • Criminal justice personnel including those in law enforcement, courts, and correctional services; 
  • Public health employees
  • Firefighters
  • Vermont National Guard personnel called to duty for this response; 
  • Other first responders and state employees determined to be essential for response to this crisis under the State Emergency Operations Center; and 
  • Staff and providers of child care and education services (including custodial and kitchen staff and other support staff) for children of other “essential persons.”

This new guidance outlines the protocols educators and childcare providers should follow as they develop plans to care for children of “essential persons.” It also addresses facility and class/group size limits, hygiene and cleaning protocols, social distance practices, as well as communications and plans for emergency notifications.

 The release goes on to say that the directive provides for “continuity of funding for schools and providers” to “help preserve these important services for Vermonters post-response.” and to “identify and address funding gaps in order to allow for these emergency services for children of “essential persons.”

Three out of five new cases are non-residents

In a daily update, the Vermont Health Department departed from its custom of identifying the gender, age and county of residents of newly confirmed COVID-19 sufferers and did not mention that there were five new positives since yesterday. Instead, the chart, which has become familiar to those following the pandemic, listed “Vermont cases of COVID-19” and “Additional cases testing positive in Vermont.” These were 10 and 7 respectively for a total of 17. Yesterday those numbers were 8 and 4 but the second category was labeled “Non-residents cases testing positive in Vermont.”

So it appears – but it is not spelled out – that there were two new “Vermont” cases and three new “Non-resident” cases.

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Filed Under: Cases reportedCovid 19 CoverageEducation NewsFeaturedMandated shutdowns

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