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RSU 71 discusses social media page, updates snow policy

By Kendra Caruso | Nov 10, 2020
Source: File photo

Belfast — Regional School Unit 71 Board of Directors discussed a Facebook page associated with the district and passed a new social media policy for board members at its Nov. 9 meeting. It also updated its snow day policy to allow for virtual learning on those days.

It was the first meeting after Chairwoman Caitlin Hills’ sudden resignation from the board because of a Nov. 3 Facebook post where she used profanity to describe people who voted for President Trump.

The new social media policy, which passed as a first reading, had been under discussion for three weeks, board member Charlie Grey said. It prohibits board members from posting messages in anger and that reflect badly upon the board and school.

The board decided to keep the Friends of RSU 71 Facebook page, which is not an official district page, but is administered by some board members. Grey said the page was started to relay district information to the public.

He said he thinks it has turned into a forum where people share their personal views, and that is not what the board intended. He supported disabling comments on all page posts to prevent unwanted discussions.

Board member Jessica Woods, who is a page administrator, said the page has served its purpose more in positive ways than negative ways. She has had to delete only two posts since the page was created.

She said if people want to comment on a post they can take a screenshot and share their comment with the image, so she is not capable of completely controlling people’s reactions to information on the page.

“There’s no way to end people commenting on something they want to comment on,” she said. “... I feel like we can chase our tails all day long, but does the good of this page outweigh the bad?”

It is a good tool to relay information to the public, Woods said, and added that she supports keeping the page. The board took no action to delete the Facebook page.

In other business, Superintendent Mary Alice McLean discussed the district’s snow day policy, which the district is replacing with remote learning.

If school is canceled because of dangerous conditions, the district will move to remote learning so students do not miss a school day, McLean said. If the power goes out, the students will work from a prepared packet. Parents can request a Wi-Fi hotspot if they do not have internet.

Grey said he thought school should be completely canceled if the power went out. Woods said students are not as active in remote learning and was concerned that students would not get enough exercise if they were required to do remote learning for most of the day.

The new snow day policy will be implemented this year and is supported by the Department of Education, according to McLean.

 

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