VDH COVID-19 Update: School and college infections remain low

Daily Update on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

September 22, 2020

New information is in red and bold.

This update is available online at healthvermont.gov/covid19

Click the “See the Latest Update” button.

Please visit the Vermont Department of Health’s COVID-19 web and data pages

Vermont schools doing well to prevent spread of COVID-19

Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD said at Tuesday’s press conference that although Vermont has seen a small number of COVID-19 cases in schools, none of the people who tested positive got the virus due to being in school.

“Based on our investigations, all had been exposed prior to classes beginning,” Dr. Levine said. “Even if they were potentially infectious for a day in school, adherence to physical distancing and masking guidance have been, and remain critical strategies for students and staff to continue adhering to.”

When there is a case in a school, we will act quickly to investigate the situation and take all appropriate steps to contain its spread, Dr. Levine said. He added a message to parents, caregivers and school personnel:

“Any cases of the virus in your school is not a failure on your part, any more than your child getting sick at home is a failure. It is the nature of this virus to be easily transmitted from person to person. We are all doing our level best to prevent its spread…. and no person or school should be singled out to be blamed or stigmatized.”

Dr. Levine also reminded caregivers to be aware of any possible symptoms that may be outside the norm for your child — a headache or cough or congestion, however mild. Keep them home, and if the symptoms persist, call your child’s pediatrician for advice. COVID-19 symptoms can include:

• Fever (100.4 F or higher)

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Chills

• Fatigue

• Muscle pain or aches

• Headache

• Sore throat

• New loss of taste or smell

• Congestion or runny nose

• Nausea or vomiting

• Diarrhea

Secretary of Education Daniel French also announced all schools will be placed in Step III of the safety and health guidance as of Saturday, Sept. 26. This will allow schools “additional flexibility” on how to implement the rules, he said. Read the guidance for more details.

Traveler Information

Unlike the suggested timeline for evaluating when winter high school sports might resume, Governor Scott today was not willing to say when he might further "turn the spigot" and open up more of the economy. Last week he increased lodging capacity to 100 percent and allowed bar seating at eating and drinking establishments.

He said the data as always will decide the timing of, say, allowing more than the 50 percent occupancy to be increased. Even with bar seating allowed, capacities at those establishments remain at 50 percent.

Places like ski resorts might be eager to know how to plan for the coming season. Many of the resorts have plans in place and are just waiting for snow.

Scott said at his press briefing today: "As a reminder: Lodging facilities are now able to rent all rooms but all other safety protocols and requirements remain in place. This will increase the number of rooms rented but does not change capacity in gathering areas like dining or event spaces.

"On the bar seating change: This change did NOT increase capacity at bars & restaurants. Capacity remains at 50% as it has since June 26. This change simply allows seating at the bar counter while complying with the capacity limit & all other safety measures in the guidance.

"The reaction to last week’s announcements (and what I expect we’ll hear after announcements today) is similar to what we’ve experienced throughout this pandemic: Some feel we’re moving way too fast and some believe we’re moving way too slow.

"We’ve been living w/ great uncertainty since March. Our lives have been turned upside down & as we await a vaccine, we don’t know how long we'll be in this position. All of this (plus the alarming trends in other parts of the country & the impact on our economy) creates fear. Fear about your health and the health of your family. Fear about your job & how you’ll put food on the table. Fear about whether you can afford to keep your business open. Fear about whether your kids are falling behind & if they'll ever catch up. I understand all of that. This is why I’ve put such an emphasis on the data, the science and the expertise of the teams at @healthvermont @VTEducation @vemvt and more.

"There are no easy answers. Every decision we make has ripple effects. We know enough about managing this disease that most activities (with safety measures) would be safe IF they were done in a vacuum. But we don’t live in a vacuum. We have to look at the big picture.

"This is why we’ve taken a methodical approach- one quarter turn at a time. So we can open the spigot a little, see what happens, then open it a little more. This approach has worked. We lead the country in so many ways when it comes to suppressing this virus.

"I know this is hard. I know many are tired of dealing with this pandemic, especially with so much going on in the world. But if we stick together, if we continue to pull in the same direction against this common enemy, we’ll get through this and we’ll be stronger for it."

Visit the Travel to Vermont web page for continually updated information and guidance, including about quarantine requirements, testing, and to sign up with Sara Alert for symptom check reminders.

Vermont’s travel map, which displays those counties from which travelers to Vermont may need to quarantine, is now updated each Tuesday.

COVID-19 Testing Data for Colleges/Universities and Schools

PreK-12 Schools: A table of School-Based COVID-19 Transmission is now available at healthvermont.gov/currentactivity.

There have been four total cases statewide at schools with no community transmission. The latest cases was confirmed over the weekend at the Williamstown Middle/High School.

Colleges/Universities: The Department of Financial Regulation’s School Reopening web page now includes links to each Vermont college and university with information about their COVID-19 testing results.

There have been 43 cases identified at Vermont's colleges with 25 at UVM. There have been over 57,000 tests, resulting in a positivity rate of 0.08 percent.

Overall, Vermont has the lowest positivity rate, the lowest per capita rate and the fewest total cases in the nation. Vermont has seen 58 deaths from COVID-19, which is the fourth fewest in the nation. There has not been a COVID-related death in Vermont in 56 days.

Case Information

Current COVID-19 Activity in Vermont

As of 12 p.m. on September 22, 2020



Total cases*


(2 new)

Currently hospitalized


Hospitalized under investigation


Total people recovered




People tested


Travelers monitored


Contacts monitored


People completed monitoring


* Includes testing conducted at the Health Department Laboratory, commercial labs and other public health labs.

+ Death occurring in persons known to have COVID-19. Death certificate may be pending.

Hospitalization data is provided by the Vermont Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Coalition and is based on hospitals updating this information.

COVID-19 Cases On The Rise in US

Also at today's press briefing DFR Commissioner Michael Pieciak issued the state's modeling and data presentation.

While Vermont's data remains relatively stable, with fewer cases last week than any weeks since early August, the US as a whole, and especially the Southeast has seen a noticeable increase in cases.

There is also been an increase in non-COVID-related cases during the pandemic, which to this point has been unexplained, but which mirrors the COVID graph.

Find more at the data dashboard: healthvermont.gov/currentactivity.

Guidance for Vermonters

Get the information you need at our Frequently Asked Questions.

If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital.

If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider.

Maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet and wear a mask when near others.

Getting Tested for COVID-19

Anyone can get tested, but not everyone needs to get tested.

Talk with your health care provider If you think you should be tested for COVID-19.

If you don’t have a provider, dial 2-1-1, or contact the nearest federally qualified health center or one of Vermont's free & referral clinics.

Visit our testing web page for more guidance and where to get tested if you do need it.

Return to School Guidance

Schools: Strong and Healthy Start: Safety and Health Guidance for Vermont Schools

Mental Health: A Strong and Healthy Start: Social, Emotional and Mental Health Supports During COVID-19

Sports: Fall Sports Programs for the 2020-2021 School Year

Child care: Health Guidance for Child Care and Out of School Care

Find additional resources on our Schools, Colleges and Child Care Programs web page.

Business Guidance

Visit the Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s website for “Work Safe” guidance.

Take Care of Your Emotional and Mental Health

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs emotional support, help is available 24/7:

Get self-help tips and connect to mental health services at COVID Support VT.

See ways for Coping with Stress.

For more information: