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RSU 3 committee approves two in-person, three remote days

By Fran Gonzalez | Aug 14, 2020
Source: File photo

Thorndike — After much consideration and two district-wide surveys, recommendations for the start of the new school year were approved Aug. 17 at a special Regional School Unit 3 Board of Directors meeting at the Mount View Complex.

Superintendent Charles Brown said the Return to School steering committee recommended a plan that would have K-12 students attend two full days on site and three remote days per week. In an email to The Republican Journal Aug. 14, Brown said there would be two cohorts of students, one attending two days, the other attending a different two days.

In an attempt to stagger the remote days, Brown said one cohort of students would attend school on site Monday and Wednesday, while another cohort would go Tuesday and Thursday. The three days not attending in-person classes students will have remote learning opportunities.

Brown said, “We understand that any plan we put forward that is not 100% normal return, puts families at a hardship for childcare and supporting remote learning. Our ultimate goal is to return to 100% schooling once conditions and CDC/DOE guidelines permit. Currently, our facilities and staffing do not permit a full return to school.”

The last survey sent to parents presented several options for the start of the school year, including K-12 attending four half-days per week, in either a.m. or p.m. sessions, with Friday designated as a remote learning day.

Families were also asked if they preferred to have their children solely attend school remotely.

A return to school guide, sent to parents in draft form Aug. 6, outlined several new protocols established following the recommendations from the Maine Department of Education and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

All students and staff will be required to wear face coverings, or face shields for students with medical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear a mask. Face coverings will be provided for those who need them and a health screening prior to coming to school each day will be required as well for all students and staff.

Entrance to the school building will be through assigned entry points and will be limited, with only students and staff permitted beyond the school lobby/office area.

There will be no large assemblies, field trips will not be held for the first trimester, meetings will be held remotely as much as possible and transportation by parents is highly recommended.

Many widely prescribed safety practices will be implemented, including hand-washing, sanitizing, physical distancing, face coverings, water-filling stations and reminders on coughing or sneezing into one's elbow, and not to hug or shake hands.

Following the Aug. 10 RSU 3 School Board meeting, Brown provided answers to several questions about the proposed changes.

Speaking on how students would attend the Waldo County Technical Center, Brown said students would attend on their on-site days at Mount View High School, as well as any of their remote days as time allows, and added that logistics of transportation are currently being developed.

When asked about how students will be screened for symptoms before riding the bus or entering the school, Brown said parents or caregivers would use a tool developed by the CDC/DOE to administer self-checks at home prior to coming to school.

Concerning how buses would be cleaned, Brown said a protective layer of spray OMNIShield, an antimicrobial coating approved by the CDC, will be used. Drivers will also use chemical-free ozone water to disinfect and clean high-touch points between bus runs.

Hand sanitizer will be available on every vehicle and students will be required to use it before boarding and on departure. Drivers will also have masks available, as students will not be permitted on the buses without a mask.

School bus monitors will not be on buses, based on the number of people needing to ride on a bus. Brown said since wearing a mask is a state requirement, students not wearing a mask will be disciplined accordingly. Repeat offenders will be asked to participate in remote learning.

Brown was asked, since the state has waived attendance and hour requirements, what is the basis RSU 3 is using as an expectation for attendance?

He said students will be expected to be in attendance each of their scheduled times, including remote learning, unless other arrangements have been made through the school office.

Brown said the district will work with families with limited internet access or a lack of devices,and asked the families to inform their student's school about their specific needs.

 

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