WHY ARE THE SCHOOLS RE-OPENING?
We have heard from several parents who are pleased we have re-opened the schools and several who are quite unhappy with that decision. We decided to reopen schools to in-classroom instruction because both the Maine CDC and the Maine DOE have advised us that schools remain a safe place for both students and staff. Schools have a much lower rate of COVID transmission than the general community. Schools make sure that everyone remains masked and socially-distanced. Schools are also required to assure that any staff member or student with a diagnosis of COVID does not return to school until the CDC provides a letter of clearance. We felt it was wiser to have the kids here, receiving in-person instruction, then continuing with remote instruction given the safe environment in the schools.
WHAT ABOUT STAFF OR STUDENTS THAT HAVE TESTED POSITIVE?
Our school nurse works with the diagnosed person and the Maine CDC to assure that all safety protocols are followed. No one can be in our school buildings unless they have received a CDC clearance after a diagnosis. We also require anyone with close contact of a diagnosed COVID individual, for 15 minutes or more, to quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. Please remember that we cannot force anyone to have a COVID test, but we can exclude entrance to our schools from anyone diagnosed who has not had a clearance. All of us want the schools to be the safest place to be. Please know that we CANNOT, under any circumstances, reveal any personal medical information about anyone. So far, there are only 3 known cases among students and staff within our three schools and all three cases are being followed closely. Under no circumstance can any diagnosed individual return to school without clearance.
WHY DON’T WE OFFER BOTH REMOTE AND IN-CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION? WHAT DO WE OFFER FOR STUDENTS REMAINING AT HOME?
Quite simply, we’re just too small a school district for that to happen. Our teachers teach one (or more) grades and do not have back-up. In the bigger schools, it may be that there are three fifth grade teachers, two who can do in-classroom and one that could do remote. We do not have that luxury here. It’s great having such small class sizes, but the downside during this pandemic is that there are no “spare” teachers for both remote and in-class instruction at the same time. The schools are providing all assignments on Google Classroom for students who remain at home. Assignments that are complete and turned in will receive a grade as usual. For students in Pre-K through grade 3, schools are also offering work packets that parents can pick up at the school.
The schools will be constantly monitoring the situation with respect to COVID cases. We feel fortunate right now that the numbers diagnosed with COVID are small and well controlled through quarantine and CDC clearance procedures. If we detect an increased transmission of COVID among students or staff, we will consult with the school nurse and the Maine CDC to reevaluate our method of instruction.