Long Trail School restricts parade attendance after hearing from Dorset residents

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DORSET — Long Trail School in Dorset has revised its plans for a parade to honor its graduating seniors after hearing from some town residents.

The parade, which will still be held Friday afternoon, will now only run from the school down Paul's Way, where teachers will be sitting in their cars and blowing their horns.

The original plans were for graduating seniors to parade in their cars from the LTS campus into the Dorset village to the Dorset Playhouse where additional activities at a ceremony were planned. People were originally asked to line the route while socially distancing to cheer on the Class of 2020.

In a Wednesday email, LTS Head of School Seth Linfield, in reply to a query about the changes, said, "we are no longer inviting anyone outside of their vehicles on the parade route, except for limited exceptions on our campus."

Word spread that the school was being asked to limit its celebration but a representative from Gov. Phil Scott's office and Town Manager Rob Gaiotti said it wasn't them.

Rebecca Kelley the governor's communications director, said the governor and Secretary of Education Dan French had made it clear that they were willing to work with groups who wanted to offer creative celebrations and stay within the bounds of the governor's emergency orders.

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Kelley said French had worked with several schools in organizing special events and said lining the parade route fit in with the governor's orders as long as people socially distanced.

"They’ve been trying to work with folks," Kelley said. "The governor has asked the agency [of Education] to allow for creativity."

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In Dorset, Gaiotti said the parade was allowed in response to a query Wednesday.

"The parade is allowed and LTS plans to follow State guidelines," Gaiotti said in an email. "Seth confirmed that is their plan."

Still, changes were made after hearing from residents in Dorset.

In an email Thursday morning to the school community, Linfield said the school had made changes after hearing from concerned residents.

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"It is important to stay fluid and to pay attention to others as we emerge from the stay home-stay safe order. After yesterday’s amendments to the Commencement Parade, town residents raised concerns regarding the safety of our celebratory parade," Linfield wrote. "Of course, we wish to be good neighbors.

LTS made adjustments, including eliminating the Dorset Playhouse as the end of the parade route, changing the route to only include Paul's Way, "as we send the graduates on to their futures," Linfield wrote. And attendance at the commencement parade is limited to the Class of 2020, their families, LTS faculty and those who are assisting in the event.

"Every attendee MUST be inside a vehicle except for staff conducting the ceremony," Linfield wrote.

Editor's Note: The writer has kids attending Long Trail School.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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