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Vermont governor announces school leaders will ask students about being in ‘multi-family gatherings’ over Thanksgiving

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said the state’s Agency of Education is directing schools to ask students if they were part of “multi-family gatherings” during the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Unfortunately, we know some will still get together and schools have asked for help. @VTEducation will direct schools to ask students or parents if they were part of multi-family gatherings and if the answer is yes, they’ll need to go remote for 14 days or 7 days and a test,” Scott said on Twitter.

Scott also called on businesses to take a similar approach.

“We also advise businesses to consider asking employees to quarantine if they don’t adhere to gathering restrictions,” Scott said. “This isn’t a way around the ban or an excuse to get together. The more we adhere to this policy, the faster we’ll lower case counts & ease up on restrictions.”

The announcement was part of a long Twitter thread in which Scott worked to “put a name to the real consequences of the virus” by sharing the story of a family that recently lost a loved one. Scott said that virus deaths “are not just numbers,” but “people who loved their families and communities.”

“This is a tragic reminder of why we’re asking Vermonters to sacrifice to slow the spread of the virus, protect the vulnerable and keep families like Mary Pat’s whole,” Scott said. “I know many of you stepped up from the beginning and I thank you for your help, even when it’s hard.”

Scott added that people considering not complying with the state’s recommendations could cause a “domino” effect in the spread of the virus.

“There are some who want to do the right thing but don’t see the risk in getting together,” Scott said. “But with the amount of virus in our communities right now, even your trusted friends and households are at much higher risk and may not know they have the virus.”

“Maybe you just aren’t worried about getting the virus,” he continued. “You’re young/healthy, you can work remotely or you just don’t think it’s a big deal. But you never know if you’re going to be the domino that leads to a nursing home outbreak or pushes an entire school to remote learning.”

He warned that not complying could also put healthcare facilities at risk of being overburdened.

“Enough of these dominoes put our health care facilities at risk,” Scott said. “Protecting our family and friends is in our hands and we all have a role to play. So I’m asking you to help by avoiding getting together with people outside your households and not travel this week.”

He ended by thanking the majority of Vermont’s residents for adhering to safety guidelines, crediting them with helping the state achieve the “lowest number” of cases and deaths.

“We’ve spent a lot of time recently talking about those who aren’t following the guidance, so I want to recognize the many more who are doing the right thing,” the governor said. “While we’ve seen record growth, we still lead the nation in the lowest number of cases/deaths & that’s because of you.”

“I know asking you to sacrifice yet again is frustrating,” he said. “But there is light at the end of the tunnel and we’ll get there. The sacrifices we make today and in the next few weeks will ensure we get to the end faster, stronger and in a better position than any other state.”

With COVID-19 cases rising across the country, many state and local governments have imposed restrictions or guidelines related to Thanksgiving gatherings. Most of the restrictions are aimed at multi-household gatherings, reasoning that large numbers of people from separate households meeting in one place risks a greater spread of the virus.

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