VSCS Board of Trustees Discuss Omicron

The Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees executive committee met Friday to discuss the return to campus for the spring semester amid the Omicron surge of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Amy Ash Nixon)

MONTPELIER — Tthe Vermont State Colleges System (VSCS) Board of Trustees executive committee discussed the Omicron variant during their latest meeting.

Chair Lynn Dickinson asked VSCS Chancellor Sophie Zdatny to provide an update on how the state colleges system would be handling the incoming spring semester across the campuses of the system which include Northern Vermont University (NVU) with campuses in Lyndon Center and Johnson, the Vermont Technical College (VTC) with campuses in Randolph and Williston, the Community College of Vermont with statewide locations, and Castleton University.

“Generally speaking, given the Omicron variant, we had a lengthy meeting with the (college) presidents before the holiday break and the decision was made that unless and until something else changed the plan is for us to come back to campus as scheduled, return to in-person classes,” Zdatny said. “Right now we are planning on having employees upload through our HR system their vaccination status or if they are not vaccinated, they will be asked to upload every week a negative test.”

She added, “It’s exhausting, it’s incredibly time-consuming… but we’re doing the best we can to deal with the situation we have, trying to keep things as normal as we can, and trying to keep people safe as we move forward.”

Zdatny said the VSCS has a good relationship with the Vermont Department of Health and with other higher education institutions in Vermont to ensure they are aligned and working together, which has been beneficial.

Trustee David Silverman noted that as the merger of NVU, VTC and Castleton into Vermont State University in about a year and a half, that incoming classes of students may not be as well prepared due to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.

Zdatny said investing in academic supports for students and retention will be huge, saying there will be great needs for students coming up academically and on the mental health front, as well.

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