Students and others wait outside Virtue Field House last week in a rehearsal of Middlebury College’s testing for arriving students, which is due to begin this week. Photo courtesy of Middlebury College
MIDDLEBURY — As Middlebury College welcomes more than 2,000 students back to campus this month, criticism of its fall reopening plans has also mounted. Students, faculty and local community members have all expressed concerns about the risk they believe the college is taking by reopening its campus in the middle of a deadly pandemic. At the same time, college officials say they are taking unprecedented precautions to keep students and the broader community safe from a COVID-19 outbreak. And they are joined by others in asserting that a careful return of students to campus is better than the...
MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott on Friday, Aug. 14, announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency has been extended to Sept. 15, 2020, as well as additional local discretion for gathering size limits and liquor sales. “We’ve made tremendous progress since this pandemic started and have suppressed the virus even as we’ve reopened much of the economy,” Scott said in a press release. “We should be proud of what we’ve done but given what the rest of the country is facing, every one of us must stay vigilant to protect the gains we’ve made. This means wearing a mask when around those you don’t live...
Returning to School, To Town   Across the way, a new pod of tents behind the field house. And a gaggle of orange traffic cones. Set out by Buildings and Grounds   to direct the returning students where to go, where to line-up to be tested without their parents. Downtown, all summer, workers,   masked, have been rebuilding the crumbling bridge, graveling the new railroad tracks. Not as bad as everyone expected   having to drive around for awhile, walk a different path. To take you where you’re going. Of course things can’t be the same   as they were. Russ Reilly, our football announcer, used...

Willowell Foundation land in Monkton.
MONKTON — With the limited in-person schooling this fall due to fears around coronavirus, The Willowell Foundation is rolling out a new interdisciplinary, outdoor, multi-aged option. The program will provide activities for students on days when they are not in school. The foundation is collaborating with a group of licensed teachers, artists, theatre majors, and craftspeople to run an educational camp at the Willowell Foundation land in Monkton. The program will be completely outdoors, open air, and will follow state health safety guidelines. This program will run from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.,...
ADDISON COUNTY — Due to COVID-19 and related factors, Addison County River Watch Collaborative (ACRWC) almost put the lid on all monitoring activities this year. Once Gov. Scott “opened the spigot” a bit in June, however, the organization decided to do at least minimal monitoring of E.coli in Lewis Creek, Middlebury River, and the New Haven River. Funding for the planning of this effort came from the Otter Creek Natural Resources Conservation District and funding for the lab work came from towns and private donors. “Even as we had major concerns about involving our usual thirty or so...

Editor’s note: Middlebury College President Laurie Patton has issued this statement reaffirming the return-to-campus decision in response to an Aug. 13 letter in the Independent from 60 current and former college employees and/or Middlebury residents who were not satisfied with the college’s reopening plans in light of COVID-19. ————— There is no perfect solution to the COVID-19 reopening dilemma. In our view, we will get farther if we try not to polarize on this topic. There is an ethics of closing and an ethics of reopening. At Middlebury we know residential education reduces inequities for...

LINCOLN TOWN CLERK Sally Ober bangs the gavel at 7 p.m. to close voting at the town’s outdoor polling place, while volunteer J’Amy Allen looks on.
ADDISON COUNTY — A record number of Vermonters voted in Tuesday’s primary, and the majority of them voted early by absentee ballot. As of Wednesday afternoon, with all but one state district recorded, the Secretary of State’s office reported that 159,701 ballots had been cast in Vermont — 33% more than in the 2016 primary and 48% more than in 2018. Late Tuesday night, the Secretary of State’s Jim Condos and his staff were ebullient. “With 95% of districts in, it appears Vermont voters have shattered the previous primary turnout record AND our amazing election officials have reported results...
ADDISON COUNTY — Local candidates vying for state and county offices this fall are off to a slow start in fundraising this year, and it’s pretty obvious why.  The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically curtailed conventional campaigning — including door-to-door stumping and fundraising socials. And it’s also extended the 2020 legislative session, and several incumbents have pledged not to actively ask for cash until the final gavel falls on the state’s business in Montpelier. Candidates for statewide, legislative and local office who spend or raise $500 or more in an election cycle must...
In three months, we will celebrate our most uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving. I hope that we will find ourselves thankful for having weathered the worst of the coronavirus storm together, anticipating a number of vaccines, and seeing our economy slowly come back to life. Yet if we choose to ignore the experts and listen to those who would put their own self-interest ahead of the public good, Thanksgiving could be a grim symbol of our folly. Dr. Osterholm (director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota) and Mr. Kashkari (president of the...
As current and former local residents and employees of Middlebury College with deep concern about the health of our community, we listened carefully to the presentation by college officials to the selectboard about plans to reopen the campus. We’ve concluded that although these plans were the result of serious work by many individuals, they do not offer sufficient assurance that the college can safely reopen next month without risking a COVID-19 outbreak in Addison County. The announced plans have several troubling components, three of which are 1. failure to provide for ongoing weekly...


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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100