Last school year while Vermont was under a state of emergency, volunteers were not allowed in schools throughout the state. This disrupted many programs and activities that require community volunteers and prevented parents and family members from staying involved with schooling in the ways they typically would. This year, with the state of emergency lifted, it was up to school districts to decide their policies on guests and community members coming into schools. The Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) is allowing parents, visitors and volunteers in school buildings with the following restrictions:
- Visitors can be allowed, with administrative approval, if their visit is essential to educational purposes. All parents/guardians, visitors and volunteers must present evidence of COVID-19 vaccination.
- Anyone entering HUUSD buildings must comply with all HUUSD COVID-19 mitigation strategies.
- Contracted service providers, student interns and students from other HUUSD schools traveling for educational purposes are allowed.
- Schools must keep a record of visitors in the building, including where they plan to be and the duration of their visit.
“To keep our schools as COVID safe as possible, we continue to restrict individuals in our school buildings to those who need to be there to support educational purposes,” said Waitsfield Elementary principal and HUUSD building-based COVID coordinator Kaiya Korb. “As such, family members are not coming into the schools on a daily basis. The presence of our volunteers is thus all the more appreciated, as in addition to the direct support to students provided, these volunteers are also a key connection to our broader community.”
Programs like Everybody Wins!, in which local volunteers come to schools to read to young children, are up and running again. While visitors remain limited, the presence of volunteers has contributed to reestablishing a sense of normalcy in local schools.
“It is clear that volunteers returning to our schools are met with joy from all,” Korb said. “From community volunteers conducting mock interviews at our high school to Everybody Wins! volunteers reading with students during their lunch, our volunteers support our students in myriad ways and we are happy to have them supporting the essential work of our schools.”