Local News

K-12 and state colleges will not resume this spring

Castleton University cancels graduation

Staff report

On Thursday afternoon, March 26, Governor Phil Scott directed schools to remain dismissed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. K-12 schools will stay closed for in-person instruction and be required to implement continuity of learning plans for remote learning. This extends the governor’s previous directive dismissing preK-12 schools from March 18 to April 6.

This decision was made in consultation with the Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Education in the continued effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. To minimize disruption to students’ learning, the governor’s order directs school districts to come up with plans for distance learning by April 13.

“The education of our students and the bonding and learning experiences they have at schools are tremendously important, so I fully appreciate the impact and difficulty of this decision,” said Governor Phil Scott. “I also recognize it will be challenging for some schools to implement remote learning through the end of the year. But I’m encouraged by the creativity I’ve seen from administrators, educators and parents already, which is why I know, together, they can rise to the occasion.”

Two days prior, Vermont State College System Chancellor Jeb Spaulding wrote a letter to students, on March 24, stating that Castleton State University, Northern Vermont University and Vermont Technical College will not resume on-site classes in April, as originally planned, and will continue remote classes through the end of the spring semester.

The letter noted that the Vermont Department of Public Safety and Vermont Emergency Management have made a request of college officials that they prepare for the possibility of using residence halls and other facilities to accommodate overflow relating to COVID-19.

“To the extent we are not using our residential facilities, they can be of critical use to our neighboring communities during this crisis. They need us to help our neighboring communities see the pandemic through,” Spaulding wrote.

Spaulding said decisions were still being made about graduation, commencement ceremonies and the awarding of degrees. However, Castleton has already decided to cancel its graduation ceremony in the spring. Others are likely to follow suit.

In a message to students on March 24, Castleton University President Dr. Karen M. Scolforo wrote: “In order to keep everyone safe, we will not be holding Commencement at Castleton University this year. Seniors, your degrees will be conferred pending completion of graduation requirements. We want to celebrate your success, and we do not want you to miss out completely on this tradition. We plan to offer a separate ceremony for 2020 graduates in the spring of 2021. I am so sorry to share this news, as I recognize how important celebrating your significant accomplishment is to you and your families. I hope that you are able to find ways to mark this moment until we are able to join together in your honor.”

Scolforo letter also noted that for the spring semester, students may convert up to three undergraduate courses to a Pass/No Pass option and that pro-rated adjustments for room and board will be adjusted back to March 16, when students were asked to depart from residence halls.

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