K-12 Covid numbers remain low as child-care hubs continue to expand

With continued low Covid-19 numbers in grades K-12, Vermont public schools will move from Step II to Step III in reopening. Photo by Alexandra Koch for Pixabay.

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With continuing low Vermont Covid-19 numbers — and with just one new positive case in K-12 schools this week — Vermont schools have been approved to go from a  Step II to Step III in health guidance as of Saturday, Sept. 26.

Meanwhile, the statewide child-care hub initiative continues to grow,  with 35 of the proposed 73 hubs now established, most in Chittenden County, according to WCAX TV. These hubs manage 87 locations throughout the state, serving over 5,000 children from 107 towns and 132 schools according to Holly Morehouse, executive director of Vermont Afterschool.

These facilities are operating with help from $12 million in federal aid that earmarked $7 million for grants to establish the child care hubs. Although the funds help establish the child-care facilities themselves, parents are still on the hook for their costs. For parents needing financial help, applications for the Child Care Financial Assistance Program can be found here. For anyone searching for child care facilities in their area, there are Community Child Care Support Agencies that can help.

As fr public schools, state Agency of Education Secretary Dan French said that although Step III still requires stringent health and safety measures such as daily temperature checks, social distancing and mask usage, there will be additional flexibility with schools now able to utilize gyms and cafeterias, though with smaller group sizes, staggered use and more sanitizing. The relaxation also extends to school sports, with interscholastic competition now approved starting on Saturday. For detailed information on the differences between Steps II and III, click here.

In total there have been four positive Covid cases reported in Vermont K-12 schools since the start of school on Sept. 8. This week’s new case was reported at Williamstown Middle and High School, south of Berlin, and has resulted in the school being shut down for this week for extensive cleaning. During Friday’s press conference, Dr. Mark Levine, state Department of Health commissioner, said there have been no transmission of the virus in schools, in all cases students were exposed prior to attending school.

The state is hoping to bring online 73 child-care hubs. Most of the 35 that are currently set up are in Chittenden County. Photo by Markus Spiske for Unsplash.

In higher education, only one additional positive case was reported this week at St. Michael’s College in Colchester. Levine praised college administrators for conferring immediately with experts at the health department and implementing health protocols.

Vermont K-12 school Covid tracking can be found through this link. You can track Covid activity at Vermont colleges and universities by linking to their individual dashboards, which can be found here.


Vermont continues to lead nation in low coronavirus numbers

Vermont continues to lead the nation in low coronavirus numbers with the lowest positivity rate and the lowest per capita case total in the country. Those numbers continue draw positive national attention as in this Sept. 20 article by Forbes. According to the article, “Only Vermont is in the green zone, which means fewer than one new daily case per 100,000 people. That signifies that the disease is ‘on track for containment.’”

The Department of Health reported a total of 25 new Covid-19 cases this week, down from the 38 cases reported last week, for a total of 1,731 total cases. These numbers are based on data published on the health department daily dashboard, tracking cases reported during the span from Friday, Sept. 18 to Friday, Sept. 25. The number of Covid deaths in Vermont remains at 58, a number that has not increased in 59 days.

Statewide testing of unique individuals
was consistent with last week,
with a total of 5,180 new people tests.

Statewide testing of unique individuals was consistent with last week, with a total of 5,180 new people tests. Overall testing numbers this week were up from last week, increasing from just under the 25,000 mark to almost 28,000. This larger number includes second and third tests for some people.

Chittenden County saw an increase of eight positive cases this week for a total of 835. Lamoille County saw a slight jump with six cases, up from 51 to 57. Windham County gained zero new cases for the third week in a row, remaining at 123, while Windsor County reported three new cases, totaling 86.

Hospitalized patients with Covid-19 decreased by one patient for a total of two. The “hospitalization under investigation” dropped from three to zero.

Contacts Monitored, which includes close contacts of people who have already tested positive, ticked up slightly from 32 to 36. Travelers being monitored, which includes those participating in the Sara Alert system, was also up slightly, going from 464 to 469.

The pop-up Covid-19 testing schedule for Springfield has added two Tuesday dates in October, for three testing dates available Sept. 29, Oct. 6 and Oct. 13. The testing location is at the Springfield UU Meetinghouse on Fairground Road. To schedule a test, click on this link and scroll down to the “Register for Pop-Up Testing” button. This site has recently added a link to sign up to be notified of future testing dates in the area of your choice.

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development updated Vermont’s cross-state travel information map on Tuesday, Sept. 22. This map identifies the surrounding counties throughout the Northeast that can now freely travel to Vermont without quarantine. This is a county-by-county list for those areas that have less than 400 active Covid-19 cases per million residents and is updated weekly. According to Dept. of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak, eligible travel counties remained “flat and down a bit” from last week’s 7.4 million possible travelers to Vermont. Click this link to see the latest updates to this interactive county map.

On Friday, Levine continued his campaign to encourage all Vermonters to get their flu shot this season and outlined innovative ways many places are providing shots including drive-through opportunities, coordinating with food pick-up sites and mobile vans. “This is the year to say…I’m gonna at least do something about the one virus we have a preventative for,” he said. He also said that the state has upped their normal supply of the vaccine to accommodate greater demand. For more information on flu vaccine details and availability click here.

For more state-wide details on Covid-19 information and resources, click here.

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