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Vermont to keep universal school masking through mid-January

WPTZ Plattsburgh-Burlington logo WPTZ Plattsburgh-Burlington 10/27/2021
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A day after sharp criticism from a group of lawmakers and health workers at the Statehouse that he must do more to combat the COVID-19 virus, Gov. Phil Scott defended his current approach.

"I think we're doing everything we should," Scott said, again rejecting calls to reimpose a state of emergency order and indoor mark mandate across Vermont.

Instead, he said, "I'm more hopeful today than I have been in weeks."

Scott's optimism stems from last week's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approval of all three brands of vaccine boosters, and his expectation the government will approve the use of the Pfizer shot for kids 5-11 years old next week.

The administration promises to be ready with a rapid, coordinated rollout in schools, pharmacies and state-run vaccination clinics.

Health department data released Tuesday also provides a reason for optimism.

New COVID-19 infections which hit record daily highs in recent weeks are finally starting to wane. Vermont's seven-day average case count dropped 15% in the last week, officials said.

Education officials announced they will recommend all public schools maintain the universal mask rule for students and staff through mid-January. That will allow time to get an initial wave of children protected with the anticipated Pfizer vaccine.

"We need to manage this virus in our daily lives," Scott said. "To do so we can make simple, proactive and protective decisions, like getting tested before visiting your grandmother for a birthday party or taking a test before and after you go to a concert. This will be part of the future for quite some time."

The administration also released new winter sports guidance Tuesday afternoon. It calls for all athletes and spectators to wear a face mask when participating or watching indoor school sporting events throughout the upcoming season.

There are exceptions for activities like running, wrestling or gymnastics, or activities where you might go upside down, as masks could slip over the eyes and create a safety hazard.

Scott travels to Orleans County on Thursday to get his COVID-19 booster shot, in an effort to send a message. Orleans County continues to suffer Vermont's highest rate of new infections.

READ MORE:Vermont to keep universal school masking through mid-January

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