Thank you to everyone who has been in touch to share your thoughts, questions, and concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. Both Rep. Houghton and I have been busy sharing your feedback with the Administration in an attempt to keep them updated on the pressing needs of our community. We know this is a difficult time, and we appreciate everyone who has reached out.
This week brought a number of new developments in the State’s response to slow the spread of COVID-19. On Tuesday, the Governor issued a shelter in place directive that orders Vermonters to limit their travel and daily activities to essential functions, like grocery shopping. A second order was issued Thursday evening, announcing the closure of schools for the remainder of the academic year. These are unprecedented actions, and the House is closely monitoring them to understand their impact on our communities.
The extended closure of school buildings will require creativity and action by our educators and families. In recent weeks, the Essex Westford School District has had to adapt its systems to meet state requirements for “continuity of education.” EWSD, like other school districts, is now entering a new phase to support “continuity of learning.” The House Education Committee held hearings Friday to learn about how our schools are navigating the COVID-19 crisis. Distance learning has its share of challenges and, as some shared in testimony, opportunities. My focus is to make sure our local schools, educators, and parents have supports to ensure a quality education for all our kids.
You may be wondering how the House Education Committee was able to hold a hearing if the State House building is closed? We have transitioned many of our meetings to a remote setting. You can now watch the Education Committee hearings on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/
Earlier this week, the House met to pass two bills (H.681 and H.742) to address pressing COVID-19 challenges. These measures will strengthen our health care system, address unemployment insurance needs, and temporarily change our election and open meeting laws to reflect the realities of remote work. With House Committees resuming regular hearings, we will be focusing our attention on next steps to address the COVID-19 emergency.
Please reach out and let me know if you have any questions, comments, or feedback you’d like to share. I am available at [email protected].
Rep. Dylan Giambatista