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Vermont to lift masking advice for highly vaccinated schools

Vermont officials will recommend at the end of the month that schools with a student vaccination rate of 80% or higher need not require masks, Gov. Phil Scott announced Tuesday.

The target was developed at the start of the school year and is something that schools have had time to plan for as the Feb. 28 deadline approached, the Republican governor said at his weekly news briefing. The deadline comes after the upcoming winter break.

“Schools should know this is only the first step. In the very near future if all goes to plan, we intend to recommend lifting the mask requirement recommendation altogether,” Scott said.


Several other states have recently announced plans to lift mask requirements in schools as COVID-19′s omicron surge subsides.

States such as Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island that have announced plans “started with omicron earlier than Vermont, and they’re also exiting the omicron surge earlier than us, as well,” said Vermont Education Secretary Dan French.

“Although we remain optimism about the trends we’re seeing in Vermont, we’re not ready to jump to a recommendation of removal of masks all together, but I expect that recommendation will be coming at some point,” French said.

Schools should be removing unnecessary local mitigation practices now, such as not allowing students to talk during lunch, or requiring students to wear masks during outdoor recess or to play in small groups or pods on the playground, he said.

“None of these types of measures are necessary, and they send the wrong message to students that our schools are not safe from the virus,” French said. “Eliminating these types of measures now will help students and staff with the transition to the eventual removal of masks.”

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