MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) – Vermont working parents with kids learning remotely may soon get more child care options. Governor Phil Scott Tuesday announced $12-million in federal money to expand child care options through an executive order.
Vermont schools will reopen in three weeks three weeks and the governor reiterated that in-person learning is safe based on medical professionals and science. He said health and safety protocols have been worked out and those need to be put in place at the local level.
Scott says he’s signing an executive order to expand child care capacity. “We know we need more child care capacity and we need it quickly,” Scott said, noting that child care will be a challenge for many parents as schools go to a hybrid model this fall.
The order is aimed at easing some restrictions and streamline the process for people seeking to start regulated child care programs. Scott says it will open up about 3,000 child care slots.
The state is also using $12-million in federal money to create regional child care hubs for remote learning days and that they will operate like summer camps. The 73 hubs will be set up in workplaces, municipal buildings, and schools. The administration says they will serve about 7,000 kids. They must adhere to COVID health care guidance and staff must undergo background checks.
AHS Secretary Mike Smith says they plan to have 10 councilors per hub and one site director. He said they expect to pay a premium or do signing bonuses to hire staff. They won’t require an educator to be there, but the state will invest in broadband for that hub if it needs it.
Vermont Secretary of Education Dan French says so far 46 of Vermont’s school districts are going with a hybrid learning model with some days in-person and some days remote. So far only three districts will only do remote learning. About a dozen districts are still working on plans.
As of Tuesday, Vermont health officials reported 1,530 coronavirus cases in the state and 58 deaths. A total of 114,097 tests have been conducted, 811 travelers are being monitored, 6,786 have completed monitoring and 1,347 have recovered.
In the last four days, Vermont has seen infection numbers range from three to 17. About 64% of new cases come from Chittenden, Rutland and Bennington Counties. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says the infections don’t seem to be related to University of Vermont students returning. As of Tuesday the state has determined that six UVM students, four Norwich university students, and one Vermont Technical College tested positive. He repeated that the test results show the safety protocols are working.
Smith says the state will likely not be opening longterm care facilities to traditional visitation until there is a vaccine available. Many currently have provisions to allow visitation with social-distancing and for end-of-life.
Governor Scott says he is concerned about the funding fight in Washington over the U.S Postal Service. He says the funding is necessary to make sure every vote counts when mail-in voting happens and that he defers to the Vermont Secretary of State’s office expertise in the matter.
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