There is a lot of information posted previously at my website www.laurasibiliavt.com and on my social media pages. New information and tips below – if you have questions or need help please reach out.
Bookmark these pages for updates:
- Vermont Department of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Current Status in Vermont Webpage for updates.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus Disease page
- World Health Organization Coronavirus Disease 2019 page
STATE OF VERMONT MAKES WEB-BASED FORM AVAILABLE TO HELP ENSURE CHILDCARE FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS
Montpelier, VT – The State of Vermont is helping to ensure eligible essential workers responding to the COVID-19 emergency can focus on their jobs and not worry about the care and safety of their children.
The State, with the help of Let’s Grow Kids, has developed a web form to more easily collect information to connect the families of essential workers with childcare in schools and licensed childcare programs that are operating to provide services now through April 6, 2020, while school dismissal and general childcare service closures are in effect. Families can also call 2-1-1 ext. 6 or 1-877-705-9008 to speak to a childcare referral specialist.
Eligible families can complete the form and the State, through the Agency of Education for school-aged children through grade 8, and Child Development Division for younger children, will work to connect essential workers who need childcare with options for their children.
This is a fluid situation and needs and guidance are continuously being reevaluated. The state of Vermont appreciates the help and patience of our schools, childcare providers, and families as we coordinate this unprecedented response.
- Essential workers who need help finding childcare should visit: https://webportalapp.com/webform/essentialworkers or call 2-1-1 ext. 6
- Childcare programs with questions should call or email the Child Development Division: 800-649-2642 (option 3) or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Schools with questions should contact the Agency of Education: 802-828-1130
A list of essential positions that qualify for services can be found at: https://vem.vermont.gov/essentialpersons
Town of Dover Resource Page
The town has launched a resource page and asked folks to call with questions or for help
Town Office Business
- We ask that you do not visit the Town Offices in person. Please call ahead 802-464-5100 or email the appropriate department for assistance.
- Assessor Office: currently closed to the public. Contact Linda Sherman at email@example.com with your needs.
- Economic Development: closed to the public. Contact Shannon Wheeler at firstname.lastname@example.org with your needs.
- Zoning: please contact Tabi Freedman at email@example.com with your needs.
- Treasurer: please contact Marco Tallini at firstname.lastname@example.org with your needs.
- Town Clerk: call 802-464-5100 with your needs to see what the right course of action is for you.
Remote Conferencing and Video Meetings – a review
Yesterday I shared my newfound relationship with Zoom for work meetings. Today I asked my fellow school board member Marc if he could provide a high level overview of a couple of other different types of conferencing services available for those now considering online meetings.
I’d like to give a brief high level overview of two remote conference/meeting services, both of which I have used pretty extensively over the last 15 years. Either of these services would allow municipalities and other boards governed by Vermont’s Open Meeting Laws, to utilize the internet and traditional phones for their meetings. BUT, currently Open Meeting Laws do require a physical site be open to the public with at least one person there. I’m not a lawyer, so please refer to the laws themselves and check with your entities attorney for advice.
Both of these services are offering some level of free services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UberConference (https://www.uberconference.com/) is geared towards small businesses. They have upgraded their free offering, which is a great service in and of itself, from 10 participants to 50 participants for the next two months. UberConference is a very easy to use platform for holding meetings and conference calls in any combination of participants using video, computer/mobile device app, and traditional telephones. Their free plan allows meetings up to 5 hours long, recording of the meeting for later playback/review, screen sharing for training purposes, sharing of documents and other forms of collaboration. At the end of the two months, their free level will return to a maximum of 10 participants and the maximum length of call will be reduced, I believe, to 2 hours.
GoToMeeting (https://www.gotomeeting.com/,) was one of the first services to offer an online meeting platform. GoToMeeting is a very mature platform capable of handling meetings anywhere from 2 to thousands of participants. They are geared towards small, medium and enterprise size organizations. The service scales quite well, so small organizations won’t feel overwhelmed by a platform created for enterprises and enterprises won’t feel hamstrung by a platform meant for smaller organizations. Unlike UberConference, they do not offer a free service level, but they do offer a free 14-day trial.
In addition, during this pandemic, GoToMeetings parent company, LogMeIn is offering 3 months free of many of their products, including GoToMeeting, through their Emergency Remote Work Kits. They have extended this offer to healthcare providers, educational institutions, municipalities, and non-profit organizations as well as any current LogMeIn customer. See this link for details:https://www.gotomeeting.com/work-remote. My personal opinion is that for Vermont town select boards, school boards and other organizations subject to the open meeting laws, GoToMeeting is well suited for deployment now and continued use post-pandemic.
GoToMeeting can accommodate participants via a dial in number, video conferencing, and local participation (webcam on site and/or speakerphone would be necessary.) Meetings can be recorded either locally on the GoToMeeting cloud service. There is a transcription option available to automatically transcribe what is said. The meeting organizer has substantial control over the meeting. They can mute/unmute participants. Give a participant the ability to share their screen, take over control of the mouse and keyboard, and control their use of webcams. The organizer can keep track of people who dial in by changing their visible name to make identification easy. Alert tones can be sounded when participants enter and/or leave the meeting. There is also a text chat feature so muted participants can in essence raise their hand to speak or the organizer can take questions via the chat box, read them out load so they can be answered.
When it comes to moving your meetings online, both UberConference and GoToMeeting are great options. UberConference is easier to use, has a few fewer features, and is less expensive. GoToMeeting has all the features needed to comply with open meeting laws, does have a slight learning curve to become an effective meeting organizer, but has lots of powerful features for all size organizations.
There are many other services out there, including Zoom, which is in the midst of a very well run advertising campaign. I’d suggest that when it comes to online meetings, the newest isn’t necessarily the best. Both UberConference and GoToMeeting have been around for many years, UberConference about 10 years and GoToMeeting for longer than that. They have already gone through their growing pains and both have refined interfaces and complimentary applications. I’d give them a strong once over before selecting Zoom or any of the newer players in the market. Full disclosure, I have no affiliation with either of these companies, never have, and do not benefit in anyway if you choose to use them.
Marc Bernard Schauber
Vermonters with questions can call 211 for more assistance. Vermonters in my district who need added assistance can also contact me at 802-384-0233.