Vermonters will be able to celebrate the Fourth of July from their cars, Gov. Phil Scott announced Friday, as he acknowledged the "great, historical significance," of Juneteenth.
Scott noted that Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, hasn't been given the same level of reflection and celebration as many other holidays over the years.
"The fact is, this says a lot about how much more work we need to do to have a better understanding of what implicit bias or systemic racism even means and the inequality that still exists in America and the role each of us plays in it," Scott said. "After all, Black history is American history."
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Officials emphasized the responsibility residents have to address systemic racism, pointing to an Action and Ally-ship Guide on the state's website.
Effective June 26, restaurants along with events, arts, culture and entertainment venues can go from 25 to 50 percent capacity with a maximum of up to 75 customers or guests inside and 150 outside. People are urged to maintain 100 square feet between one another, along with other guidelines available on the state's website.
As Summer Solstice approaches this weekend, officials said questions around the Fourth of July are top of mind and announced the decision to allow drive-in events where cars can be properly distanced.
The state did report 27 new positive tests for the coronavirus, nine of which can be traced to an outbreak in the Winooski and Burlinton areas, bringing the statewide total to 1,144 and the total of the aforementioned outbreak to 101. The state has now reported a total of 56 deaths.
Forecast for the next two weeks indicate that Vermont will continue to have a low-level case count, health officials said, noting that outbreaks can and will continue to occur and potentially "skew" data from week to week.
Also this week, the Vermont Agency of Education issued new back-to-school guidance for the fall that includes mandatory face coverings for students and teachers and bus stop temperature scans.
The guidance recommends that another adult ride the bus with the driver to assist with screenings, which would be done before students board. Both adults also must wear face coverings. Students would be assigned seats on the bus.
Facial coverings may be removed during outdoor activities where students and staff can maintain physical distancing and have ready access to put them back as needed when the activities are over, according to the guidance.
With cafeterias closed, students should be offered school meals in their classrooms, and if that’s not possible, grab-and-go carts could be made available for students to collect meals in small groups, the guidance said.
Every school district and independent school “should establish a COVID-19 coordinator to establish, review and implement health and safety protocols,” the guidance says. That person “should be a school nurse or other health professional qualified to interpret guidelines and ensure they are implemented to the best standard of practice.”.