Thank you, South Burlington residents for how you have taken the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. We have continued to heed the call for social distancing, and proper face coverings and hygiene and it is working. In the past week, we went from a projection of COVID-19 cases doubling every 12 weeks to now doubling every 40 weeks. As a result, based on science and data, the incremental reopening of Vermont’s economy continues with now limited retail, professional and non profit office openings to the and to lodging for Vermonters or those who have already quarantined for 14 days.. The web site of the Agency of Commerce and Community Affairs is where you will find the most up to date guidance as it is updated regularly.
As sectors of the economy reopen and Vermonters are called back to work, the need for Vermont’s childcare system to be operational again has become a top priority. Earlier in May, there was a ‘slow opening’ of facilities in order to allow the children of essential workers to transition back to their original childcare providers. More than 30 percent of Vermont’s regulated early care programs have been providing care to 1,800 children throughout the State of Emergency. Parents and caregivers are wrestling with competing priorities of workplaces that want them back quickly and school-aged children learning from home for the remainder of the school year. By June 1, they can be fully operational.
To help prepare providers, the Child Development Division, in coordination with the VT Health Dept., have released comprehensive health guidance for the state’s childcare programs, summer camps and afterschool programs to ensure the safety of the children and youth in their care. Additionally, $6 million is available for “restart” grants for a regulated childcare facility or day camp to use flexibly in preparing for the reopening their programs.
Some providers believe that the move to reopen is premature. Many are elevated in age, falling into the primary risk category for serious illness due to Coronavirus. They are also concerned about the impossibilities of social distancing in an environment with infants and toddlers. Likewise, cleaning/disinfectant supplies and PPE are still hard to come by as supply chains take time to reestablish themselves. The Human Services Committee continues to monitor this because It is essential that we continue to address the availability of care for children over the summer and beyond so that parents can return to work knowing that their children are safely cared for.
As this gradual reopening of the economy continues, the Governor and the Department of Health continue to make clear the importance of continuing to be vigilant. We must all continue to practice social distancing, wear a facemask, and practice proper personal hygiene. In addition, sheltering in place for those over 65, and those with underlying medical conditions in order to avoid serious illness continues to be the recommendation.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought unprecedented economic, public health, and social challenges that continue to take a toll on all of us and particularly our elders and those marginalized people who call Vermont home. As we turn towards recovery, we must keep these disparate effects at the forefront of our minds and ensure that no Vermonters are left behind. This is the focus of the Legislature and the Governor going forward. While life will be different, working together we will get through this – as a community, as a region, as a state, and as a nation.
Please join me and the other members of the South Burlington legislative delegation for our monthly meeting with constituents this Monday June 1 at 6:30pm. ( The box next to this article has the details for how to join us on zoom or you can also contact me directly….whether this sentence goes in depends on whether there is a box or ad next to this column) Hope to see you on my screen if not on my walks around South Burlington.
Finally, please feel free to reach out to me if I can be of any assistance through this at all.