Vermont to ask for masks at beginning of school year
The state of Vermont is going to recommend that all students and staff begin the upcoming school year wearing masks, officials said Tuesday.
During the regular weekly coronavirus update, Education Secretary Daniel French said the guidance for schools that will be conducting full, in-person instruction this fall will be provided to schools is being finalized. He expects it to be released this week.
French says the guidance this year will be two pages. Last year it was about 40.
While there will be a recommendation of a masking requirement to begin the school year, there will be no distancing requirements between people and once 80% of the students in a particular school have been vaccinated the school will be free to drop the use of masks for those who have been vaccinated. Students and staff who are unvaccinated should continue to wear masks, French said.
“The game changer this year, of course, are vaccinations,” French said.
As of Tuesday, 84.1% of Vermonters aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.
French said that since the state of emergency that was in place for much of past year has been lifted, the state will not be able to require schools to comply and ultimately it will be up to the local school districts to decide whether to follow the guidance.
The number of new cases of people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 went from 171 last week to 282 cases this week. The majority of the new cases are among people who are unvaccinated, said Vermont Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak, who has been following COVID-19 statistics for the state during the pandemic.
Even though the number of cases is going up, the number of hospitalizations remains low. The median age of people with new cases is 30 — an age when people are less likely to suffer the more extreme effects of COVID-19.
There have been so-called breakthrough cases of people who have been vaccinated getting COVID-19, but those who are vaccinated are 25 times less likely to require hospitalization than people who are unvaccinated.
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said that of 52 positive cases that were tested, 46 were the more transmissible delta variant.
People are still continuing to get vaccinated in Vermont and the number of people eligible to be vaccinated who have not done so fell below 90,000.
Vaccine clinics are continuing to be held across the state.
On Tuesday the Vermont Department of Health reported 34 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to nearly 25,100.
Three people were hospitalized Tuesday with COVID-19, including one in intensive care.
The number of deaths from COVID-19 remains at 260.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 12.86 new cases per day on July 18 to 41.43 new cases per day on Aug. 1.
The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.