Letter to the editor: ACSD wrong to bring back kids

The Addison Central School District’s announcement that it will return students in grades 7-12 to full capacity, in-person instruction with 3-foot physical distancing instead of the current 6-foot rule, flies in the face of CDC guidance on school safety and endangers our community.

The CDC’s published guidance for middle and high schools is clear: in communities with a “High Transmission” risk rating, students should maintain 6-foot distancing at all times. In communities with lower risk ratings, 3-foot distancing is acceptable. This risk rating is determined based on the rate of cases in a community — anything above 100 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days is “high.”

As of this writing (April 15), Addison County has logged 116 cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days — 16% above the CDC’s cutoff for safe return to the 3-foot distancing that full capacity in-person learning will require.

The CDC’s guidance is a holistic set of recommendations, and the Vermont Agency of Education and our school board and central office staff should not be cherry-picking the parts of this guidance that fit their desired outcome.  Their decision to prematurely pack students back into classrooms at full capacity is a dangerous gamble with the health and safety of students, parents, educators, staff, and the broader community.

ACSD parents (myself included) are now left with a choice between sending their children to an unsafe learning environment, or resorting to the district's woefully substandard full-remote learning option.

Dave Silberman

Middlebury

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Addison County Independent