Home > Uncategorized > School Reopening SHOULD Hinge on Community COVID Compliance… and THAT Requires Sacrifice

School Reopening SHOULD Hinge on Community COVID Compliance… and THAT Requires Sacrifice

February 10, 2021

The USA Today article below describes how the most successful State in the country in terms of COVID incidence rates was able to navigate school openings… and it had nothing to do with schools and everything to do with community support for the health department mandates. Bibba Kahn, a middle school world language in Montpelier, and 2020 Vermont Teacher of the year and Anne Sosin, Dartmouth College’s Head of the Center for Global Health Equity, concluded that the successful and relatively uncontroversial reopening of schools took place in Vermont because the communities in that State respected the mandates put forth, even those that seemed intrusive. They suggest five steps as the best way forward for all states:

We must stop debating policies that displace risk and burden onto school staff and instead align all our public health responses to support schools to open not only safely but in an environment that honors the work of educators and fosters learning and connection. As an immediate priority, leaders can and should restrict other activities to decrease community transmission. Secondly, states should accelerate plans to vaccinate school staff. Thirdly, leaders must ensure that schools have resources to implement adequate mitigation strategies. Finally, the country should dedicate resources to meet other needs, including increased staffing and operational costs.Finally, the public health and education communities must see their mission as a shared one and partner support this process.

I realize that many readers will suggest that what works in Vermont will not work anywhere else… but I believe what works in Vermont is the same thing that is “working” everywhere else— the ethos of the State is dictating their response to a crisis. Vermont’s communities as fiercely independent. They value their local autonomy above all else when it comes to issues like school governance and setting town policies. But townspeople look out for each other and accept the advice of trusted experts— and they trust the health officials. So when health officials recommended 14-day quarantines for anyone who left the state over the Christmas Holidays and schools enforced that in various ways, parents complained but they grudgingly complied because they witnessed the successful opening of their schools while those in other states remained closed and they witnessed the very low incidence rates in their state while others skyrocketed. The communitarian ethos and respect for science and intellectualism in general is part of Vermont’s DNA. The libertarian ethos and low grade anti-intellectualism of New Hampshire contributes to their higher incidence rates— which are four times that of Vermont… and the ethos of rampant anti-intellectualism combined with fierce streaks of individualism that dominate western and southern states contributes to their adverse incidence rates.

The solution is obvious. A belief that science is real and a sense that your neighbors are counting on you will conquer COVID. If the nation would adopt the Vermont ethos, we could put COVID in the rear view mirror.


%d bloggers like this: