Vermont Will Lift School Masking Guidance on March 14 | Off Message

Vermont Will Lift School Masking Guidance on March 14


Education Secretary Dan French - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Education Secretary Dan French
Updated 6:51 p.m.

As of March 14, Vermont will no longer recommend that students and staff of all ages and vaccination status wear masks in K-12 schools, officials said on Thursday. That will align schools with the state's guidance — or lack thereof — for all Vermonters.

While the state is eliminating its mask guidance, officials said that individual school districts can ultimately impose their own rules. And in districts that do away with masks, students have the right to wear face coverings — with "no stigma surrounding that" — if they choose to, Gov. Phil Scott said at his weekly press conference on Thursday.

"We need to remember, a person who wears a mask has their own good reason to do so, and respect that," said Patsy Kelso, the state epidemiologist, who stood in Thursday for Health Commissioner Mark Levine.

The decision also applies to school buses, according to Education Secretary Dan French, "since masks are no longer required on school buses as a result of a recent change in federal regulation."

On March 14, the state will also update its isolation guidance. Someone who tests positive for COVID-19 should isolate for five days, Kelso said. Previously, the state encouraged infected people to mask for 10 days and test negative before leaving isolation.

Officials justified the decisions by noting Vermont's decreasing number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and people in the intensive care units as the Omicron variant-fueled surge continues to wane.

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