March 19, 2020

Central Vermont Adult Basic Education (CVABE), in compliance with directives and guidance from the Vermont Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control,the World Health Organization and Governor Scott, has temporarily suspended face-to-face adult education at its six learning centers in Central Vermont (Barre, Montpelier, Waterbury, Randolph, Bradford and Morrisville).

“Here at CVABE we want our students, staff and entire community to be safe and healthy.  Health officials have advised the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 (Corona Virus) is to practice ‘social distancing,’” says Carol Shults-Perkins, Executive director of CVABE. “This means that we limit our face-to-face interactions as much as possible, and stay away from places where there may be a lot of people gathered together,” Shults-Perkins continues, “In doing our part to protect our community, CVABE has made a very hard, but necessary decision: as of Monday evening, March 16, 2020, we suspended all face-to-face student interactions, we will not be doing new student intakes, and our six learning centers will be closed to the public until at least April 6th, and perhaps later.”

CVABE currently has almost 400 active students, most all of whom are from disadvantaged and at-risk populations. As a result, the organization has taken its role as “information clearinghouse” to these students very seriously, and has provided:

  • Information and guidance on how to properly wash hands
  • Appropriate cleaning supplies at every learning center
  • Written information at accessible language for low literacy, and in fonts for those with visual impairment and dyslexia
  • Direct instruction on how to find and understand info on COVID-19

“In these uncertain times,” says Shults-Perkins, “we must continue to provide adult education and literacy services to our students. We know that disruptions in learning lead to learning setbacks, at best, and student attrition, at worst. Just as importantly, many of our students have come to rely on us for helping them navigate and make sense of the wealth of information about COVID-19 that they are receiving.”

CVABE teachers are available to students by phone and/or other digital means, and the organization is geared up for distance learning, so that home-based study can happen. Students with internet access and technology can continue to “meet” with their teachers through one of the many phone and video conferencing options available.

“We recognize that not all students have the necessary technology and internet access necessary for distance learning,” says Shults-Perkins, “and we are trying to find the means to provide those in need with computers, laptops, tablets, and even internet access.”

The reopening of CVABE learning centers on April 6, 2020 is dependent on further guidance from the appropriate authorities. “CVABE will do everything that we can to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 by maintaining social distancing. At the same time we are also continuing to serve our students, and provide consistent educational opportunities through distance learning. In doing so, we can also help our students to better understand the often technical information on the virus, which will slow the spread to the entire community,” says Shults-Perkins. “We will reopen our learning centers when it is safe to do so, and until then we will continue to provide a continuity of service through digital learning. As a community, we will get through this.”