In March of 2020, for the first time in living memory, schools closed their doors without a clear understanding of when they’d be able to open them again. Now, in the spring of 2022, Vermonters are facing what’s next. Fueled by federal relief funds and guided by the accumulated wisdom of two pandemic years we face a new landscape shaped by the years of historic disruption behind us. Together, the Vermont Agency of Education, school districts, communities and families face the profound obligation to reverse the damage COVID-19 caused to our students’ academic success and personal wellbeing. We will recover, rebuild and reinvent.
Our primary recovery strategy and goals are centered both on addressing the specific harms caused by the COVID-19 emergency and on improving the core functions of our schools in our communities into the future.
Education recovery must focus on boosting the academic achievement of students and supporting social emotional and well-being needs for both educators and students. Our strategies for academic achievement include expanding remote academic supports for students, enhancing school-based afterschool and summer programming, and offering grants to Supervisory Unions to purchase software to report shared academic achievement metrics. See Current Funding Opportunities for more information.
Social Emotional Learning and Well-being
For social emotional learning and well-being, AOE will work with the Vermont Agency of Human Services to coordinate mental health and wellness supports. We will work with AHS to offer grants to assist Supervisory Unions and their community partners to implement universal social-emotional screening, expand school mental health services, and provide professional development on youth mental health and suicide prevention. In addition, we will update the SEL VT platform, freely available to all of you, with additional resources and curriculum materials, and provide professional learning opportunities on trauma-informed practice and social justice. See Current Funding Opportunities for more information.
The wellbeing of our educators is critically important to education recovery in Vermont. In the coming months we’ll be working with the Vermont Educator Health Insurance program to roll out staff wellness programs in addition to the recent Summer Recess Park Pass program. You all have demonstrated incredible strength and resilience over the past two years. Our goal is to acknowledge the exhaustion and burnout so many are feeling, help educators recover and renew their enthusiasm for teaching, and provide continued reminders of why Vermont is a special place to live, work and teach.
Vermont Stories of Recovery
- Rivendell Interstate School District: Raptor Camp
Over 70 students, in grades 1-6 were able to register and partake in Rivendell Interstate School District (SAU 70)'s “Raptor Summer Camp” in 2021. The district offered this camp tuition-free and to 70 students, many from low-income households. Mornings were spent on academics, afternoons on themed enrichment opportunities, and Fridays on field trips.
- Missisquoi Valley School District: Art Therapy
With the increase in mental health needs of students and stakeholder input from the district's Abenaki Parent Advisory Council, Missisquoi Valley School District provided Art Therapy to students. The district's Director of Indian Affairs raised that many Abenaki students do not respond to traditional counseling based on verbal communication; they preferred art therapy to help deal with anxiety and other effects of long-term trauma resulting from the pandemic. The program was highly successful and the district plans to expand these services next year.
- Hartford School District: Partnership for Summer Learning
Hartford School District has partnered with Immersion Montessori School and our district to run a free summer program for K-5 grade students in the district. Students explored nature, sports, art, gardening, building projects, Spanish language, a mini farm and more.
Federal education funding for COVID-19 response has been primarily directed to Local Education Agencies (LEAs, or, in Vermont, supervisory unions and supervisory districts). Supervisory unions and supervisory districts (SU/SDs) have, in turn, provided detailed reporting on the use of these funds to the AOE.
Supervisory Unions & Districts COVID-19 Federal Emergency Funds Reimbursement
For best use of accessibility features, please open Supervisory Unions & Districts COVID-19 Federal Emergency Funds Reimbursement in a new window.
Vermont Statewide COVID-19 Federal Relief Funds Initiatives
For best use of accessibility features, please open Vermont Statewide COVID-19 Federal Relief Funds Initiatives in a new window.
The AOE has specific set-aside funding of $44 million, with the remaining hundreds of millions of dollars distributed statewide. Leveraging state set-aside federal funds, the AOE will serve a catalyzing function, helping districts maximize the value of their funds by provisioning them with tools, data, information sharing and coordination of strategy and goals statewide. Our focus will be on education systems, structures shared by all SU/SDs, that can be strengthened, improved and leveraged to achieve success and continuous improvement throughout the state. Our goal is that Vermonters will be able to see where every dollar of our federal funds have been spent and will be able to understand their impact.
Safe and Healthy Schools
Vermont students deserve school facilities that are comfortable, safe and conducive to learning. As part of education recovery work, the AOE has engaged a contractor to audit school facilities and identify where upgrades are most needed.
Agency of Education School Facility Inventory Dashboard
For best use of accessibility features, please open Agency of Education School Facility Inventory Dashboard in a new window.
Education Recovery Planning
Published in 2021, the Education Recovery Framework and Toolkit webpage is designed for use by Vermont school districts when planning for and engaging in activities to address the educational impacts of COVID-19.
Education Recovery Resources
Continuity of Learning - As Vermont schools assist in the state’s overall response efforts, our collective goal is to keep students, families and educators safe as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19. This also means that schools will play new roles in the provision of essential services and have new delivery systems of education.
Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative - As an online/virtual program, VTVLC fits within the framework of Flexible Pathways as defined in Act 77. VTVLC operates as a cooperative model meaning they support partnering schools in offering online and blended flexible learning pathways to their students.
Vermont PBS - This partnership provides access to free educational programming, curricular connections, hands-on kits, and distance learning tutorials.
Vermont Public Radio - The Agency of Education partnered with VPR to provide educational broadcast programming for students during the spring of 2020.
Edmodo - Edmodo is a communication and collaboration platform that can also be used for distance and blended learning, and will enable collaboration and access to Continuity of Learning resources for continued support to all Vermont students.