Rebecca Holcombe: COVID-19 (coronavirus) Update #4 – Proactive Leadership

Yesterday, Saturday, March 14th, two members of Governor Scott’s team spoke on the issue of school closures.

Secretary of Education Dan French said: “At this time, I recommend you plan for the possibility of the prolonged, preemptive closure of the schools in your district.” LINK to Statement Sent by Secretary French

Let’s be very clear: coordinated planning should have been done weeks ago, to minimize risks and ensure any closures are planned and orderly.

Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mark Levine, stated: “We are really concerned that the parents who in their work life act as part of the healthcare workforce will end up being home to take care of their kids.” According to VTDigger, he emphasized that the VDH recommended against school closures at this time and said that closures could impact the ability of healthcare workers to go to work. 

This is absolutely true, and is another example of why smart, coordinated planning needed to start 4-6 weeks ago, and is essential to protecting the well-being of Vermonters. 

Part of Vermont’s emergency response must be ensuring our health care workforce has access to safe, high quality, childcare for their children in the event of a school closure.

Those plans should already be in place. There are examples of this from other places that VT could learn from.

In the state of Washington, Governor Inslee asked school superintendents to provide free childcare to families of medical professionals and first responders: LINK to: Governor Inslee Announces New Rules: Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities.

San Francisco is opening emergency child and youth care centers for children of front-line workers and low-income families:

I appreciate that the Governor has finally started providing regular updates on the state’s response. This communication is critical in keeping Vermonters safe.

I call on him to ensure plans are in place so the inevitable closures don’t compromise our health care response or the well-being of individuals who are most dependent on state services.

Leadership matters.

Lastly, I thank all of the district and school leaders, parents, health care workers, community members, and students for doing what they can to ready your communities and ensure Vermonters’ shared well-being.