LMH school board delegates health decisions to administration

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Looking to a Sept. 7 opening of its schools as a highly transmissible variant of the Covid 19 coronavirus is increasing infections across the United States, the board of the Ludlow Mount Holly Unified Union School District voted last Wednesday to once again delegate decisions regarding health protocols for students and staff to Lauren Fierman, superintendent of the Two Rivers Supervisory Union, and her administration.

Superintendent Lauren Fierman explains her position on health and safety for students and employees Courtesy Okemo Valley TV

While it’s within the purview of the board to make those decisions, during the state of emergency in the spring of 2020, both LMH and the Green Mountain Unified School delegated that authority to the administration of then superintendent Meg Powden who closed the schools to in-person classes shortly before the state of Vermont ordered the same action.

Beginning in July 2020, Fierman and a working group of administrators, educators and the SU’s nursing staff put together a hybrid reopening strategy for that fall. Fierman held multiple forums with parents via Zoom as the state mandated opening of Sept. 8, 2020 approached. The hybrid schooling took the form of four days at school (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) with Wednesday conducted remotely via Zoom. There was also a remote learning option available to students in all grades.

Fierman also closed the schools to in-person classes during the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year holidays, reasoning that families who travel to areas where there was more transmission (or who had guests from such places) could cause a spike in infections at the schools.

But with this spring and summer’s lower infection counts and Gov. Phil Scott’s lifting his state of emergency, schools seemed on track to return in September 2021 with fewer restrictions. However, the rise of the delta variant has shaken things up and the Centers for Disease Control, the Vermont Department of Health and the state Agency of Education are urging the use of masks much to the chagrin of parents who oppose their use.

Chair Paul Orzechowski restates his opposition to mask mandates for children.

At this month’s TRSU board meeting, Paul Orzechowski, chair of the SU and LMH boards, forcefully pushed back on the idea of mandating masks and there appeared to be some question about how the LMH board would vote. At its meeting, Fierman outlined that she would do what the state has suggested (100 percent masks in all schools for the first 10 days, then masks optional when the student population of a school reached 80 percent vaccinated) and inform the boards of any changes.

While Orzechowski repeated his objections to mask mandates, he and the other board members voted unanimously to delegate the authority. That same question will be on the Green Mountain board’s agenda on Thursday Aug. 19.




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