Wiscasset school committee

Graduation excitement builds; ‘big decisions’ ahead for next Wiscasset school year due to COVID-19

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 12:00pm

    From virtual marching practice to fielding parade questions and planning a fun summer break sendoff for elementary school families, Wiscasset’s school department is working toward the school year’s end; and once the state picks a plan for next fall, school districts can start work on that, Superintendent of Schools Terry Wood told the school committee May 26.

    Wiscasset Middle High School Principal Charles Lomonte said seniors’ excitement for graduation is “growing ... building and mounting,” thanks in part to the recent deliveries of the lawn signs and sweatshirts.

    Lomonte said parents are welcome to join in the June 9 and 10 virtual marching practices, where students will learn where to enter, exit, park and stand, “all those logistics” for the June 11 graduation ceremony at Wiscasset Speedway. On a question from committee member and senior parent Desiree Bailey, Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Warren Cossette said each senior’s family can decide whether or not to drive through the post-graduation car parade through town together, but he would encourage it.

    “There’s a lot of people in town that are looking forward to seeing all of those families ... and a lot of organizations have really stepped up above and beyond to try to make sure that they have the people in the streets (so families will know) the whole community is behind them 100%.”

    As for parking for the fireworks at WMHS, seniors and their families will have the prime viewing spot, the whole row along the ballfields’ edge, Cossette said. There will be enough parking in other lots for anyone who wants to be there, he said. “The fireworks are a community event to celebrate the Class of 2020.”

    In other business, Wood told committee members they should serve on the committees that will plan how to carry out the state’s guidelines for fall.

    “You’re going to be making some big decisions,” Wood said. The new committees can start work once the state sets the guidelines, possibly by county or groups of superintendents, she added. Also, Wiscasset Elementary School has formed a committee of about 17 staff who – with help from the district nurse – will plan for a possible reopening, Wood said.

    Member Michelle Blagdon asked if sports practices could start. “This thing of everybody in the house is ridiculous to me. They need to be out. They need to be running.” Wood and Cossette said the department will need to follow Maine Principals Association protocol and state guidelines.

    “We have to try very hard to adhere ... because I don’t want to be in non-compliance and have anything affect our kids,” Cossette said. “We just need to be as close to it as we can be.” That does not mean they don’t value sports and families’ interest in having them, he clarified. Officials and the school committee began planning how they will re-open the track and tennis courts for summer, including possible hours and limits on numbers. 

    Also May 26, the committee unanimously passed the $10 million, 2020-21 budget offer voters will consider. Wood was awaiting word from the state that this year departments will not need to first take the proposal to an open budget meeting.

    Seniors’ last school day is May 29; other students, June 19, Wood said. From noon to 1 p.m. at WES, a reverse parade is planned, she said. Staff will be six feet apart around the perimeter, with face masks on. “It will allow ... families to drive around the bus turn, and we will wave and kind of send the kids off for the summer, because we haven’t had a chance to really say goodbye.”

    A possible workshop day topic for staff June 22 is “how the adults are managing the stress of COVID-19,” Wood said.

    Wood said plans are under way for a “Where’s Wolfie” activity with WES’s school mascot, to help stay connected with kids, probably throughout June, with a bus to be parked at spots around town “and kids will try and go find where Wolfie is.”