RSU 19 Parent Update Letter 7/31/2020

RSU 19 Families,

On Friday, July 31st the Maine CDC will begin providing a breakdown of relative community health risk levels by county which will be updated every two weeks.  We will use this tool to inform our decisions in terms of what the school year will look like this year.  We are currently planning for three different scenarios.

Plan one (RED) 100% Virtual Learning

Plan two (YELLOW) A hybrid learning plan with a combination of In-School and Virtual Learning

Plan three (GREEN) 100% In-School Learning

  • A green designation does not mean business as usual.  We will follow Maine CDC requirements for safely providing in-person instruction which may result in having to implement a hybrid plan despite a green designation.

Under any of the plans, there will be safety expectations that are clearly specified by the Department of Education and the Center for Disease Control. They are as follows:

6 Requirements for Safely Opening Schools in the Fall

  • Symptom Screening at Home Before Coming to School (for all Staff and Students) - Students (parents/caregivers) and staff members must conduct self-checks for symptoms prior to boarding buses or entering school buildings each day.    Any person showing symptoms must report their symptoms and not be present at school.  Schools must provide clear and accessible directions to parents/caregivers and students for reporting symptoms and absences.

  • Physical Distancing and Facilities - Adults must maintain 6 feet of distance from others to the extent possible. Maintaining 3 feet of distance is acceptable between and among students when combined with the other measures outlined in this list of safety requirements.  6 feet of physical distancing is required for students while eating breakfast and lunch, as students will be unable to wear masks at that time.   A “medical isolation room” (separate from the nurse’s office) must be designated for students/staff who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms during the school day. Adequate ventilation is required for classrooms, with schools having flexibility in implementation such as using properly working ventilation systems or outdoor air exchange using fans in open windows or doors. Groups in any one area, room, or classroom must not exceed the Governor’s gathering size limits.

  • Masks/Face Coverings - Adults, including educators and staff, are required to wear a mask/face covering. Students age two and above are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth.  Masks/face coverings must be worn by all students on the bus. Face shields may be an alternative for those students with medical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear masks/face coverings. The same applies to staff with medical or other health reasons for being unable to wear face coverings. Face shields worn in place of a face covering must extend below the chin and back to the ears.

  • Hand Hygiene - All students and staff in a school must receive training in proper hand hygiene. All students and staff must wash hands or use sanitizing gel upon entering the school, before and after eating, before and after donning or removing a face mask, after using the restroom, before and after use of playgrounds and shared equipment, and upon entering and exiting a school bus.

  • Personal Protective Equipment - Additional safety precautions are required for school nurses and/or any staff supporting students  in close proximity, when distance is not possible, or when students require physical assistance. These precautions must at a minimum include eye protection (e.g., face shield or goggles) and a mask/face covering. Classrooms and/or areas that have been used by an individual diagnosed with Covid-19 must be closed off until thorough cleaning and sanitization takes place. 

  • Return to School after Illness - Sick staff members and students must use home isolation until they meet criteria for returning to school.

Once a determination on return to school has been made.  We will be reaching out to individual families to gather information on their return to school plan.

Parents may choose to keep their child(ren) home and access remote learning from the district. We realize that certain conditions may be present that make this the only option available to them. We would like everyone to have the same expectations regarding our remote school option. We are working with a team of teachers and administrators to make our remote learning more rigorous than it was last spring.

Remote school is not homeschooling. If you choose homeschooling, the parent/guardian must file intent to do so with the state and then the parent becomes responsible for the content of their child’s program. There is no further connection to the school district unless specified in a homeschool plan. 

Choosing remote learning is a commitment for a specific amount of time, at least the first month or so of school and then periodic re-entry points after that.

It is important for us to set up specific learning conditions for in-school students, classes, groupings, bus runs, food service and other services that are established very clearly for student safety.

We will continue to communicate with you over the coming weeks regarding all aspects of our return to school plans. Please realize that we are doing the best that we can with the information that we have. If the number of cases climb, we will respond accordingly, by shifting to one of our other (more protective) plans.

We have been waiting to hear from the Department of Education on this monumental decision and we will do our best to support our students in their education this fall.

Thank you,

Mike Hammer, Superintendent RSU 19