Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District staff want to know if and when an indoor masking mandate will be reintroduced into the schools. Boothbay Region High School teacher Mark Gorey asked committee members and Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Superintendent Robert Kahler May 10 if there are any in-house criteria for a mandate.
Maine Center for Disease Control and Department of Education are recommending indoor masking considering Maine is the second highest in the country for COVID-19 transmission rates, Gorey said. Since Portland and Bangor high schools are returning to indoor masking, other districts in areas with high transmission rates will follow suit, he said. With Lincoln County considered a high transmission area with rising hospitalization rates and since there are notable positive cases in the CSD, administrators and the committee should be considering the implications for its schools, he said.
“We do seem to be marching towards graduation in person and there are a lot of stakeholders involved of course,” said Gorey.
Kahler said AOS 98 would be sending out a letter to parents strongly encouraging them to send their students to school with masks. At this point, there is no mask mandate or criteria for one, but administrators continue communicating with their school nurses, service providers and with neighboring districts.
“As it was before, it's a little mixed. More districts are beginning to move toward indoor masking, but I can't give you a breakdown because it's changing quite quickly … The county transmission rate has been raised to high and we have (this letter), but I wanted to make sure I chatted with the board first.”
In the meantime, custodians continue daily periodic sanitizing and staff and students continue to space apart as much as possible, Kahler said. School nurses are recommending anyone with symptoms, even if associated with allergies typical of spring, should stay home. Two at-home COVID-19 tests per student will soon be available, he said.
Kahler said he does not foresee Maine CDC or DOE reinstating their mandates, so returning to masks will likely be a board and/or administration team decision.
“The question would be – is (masking) something the board wants to vote on? … If it's an administrative and leadership team decision, that would be great to know. If it's something the board would say we absolutely want to vote on it, that would be great to know, too … As local superintendents and with different medical providers, we're reaching out and talking on a regular basis to try and determine what seems to make the most sense based on our cases and where we are.”
Committee members opted to continue administrative oversight of COVID-19 decision-making, though committee member Bruce MacDonald offered that the committee could make the decision should administrators ask for direction.
Contracts and committee elections
The committee approved Amanda Powell as a Boothbay Region Elementary School teacher, Susan Sprague for food service and a contract for Heidi Stevens as CSD food service director through 2023-2024. Kahler announced Lisa Andrews’ retirement and BRHS teacher Lauren Graham’s and BRES teacher Sara Boies’s resignations all as of Aug. 31.
BRHS Principal Tricia Campbell, BRES Principal Shawna Kurr, BRES Assistant Principal Matthew Lindemann and Director of Transportation Kyle Canada all had contracts extended to 2023-2024. Campbell received a 2.5% raise; Kurr, 3%; Lindemann, 4%; and Canada an additional $5,000 stipend.
Second year probationary teachers were approved: Donna Callahan, BRHS special education; Allison Crocker, BRES; Karen Farrington, BRES; Kristin Hanley, Gifted and Talented; Colleen Hennessy, BRES; and Ken Jackman BRES. Continuing teachers were also approved: Nancy Cole, BRES music; Gray Ferris, BRES SPED; Jessica Murray, BRES; and Tanya Thibault, BRHS SPED.
The committee chose former Vice Chair Peggy Splaine and Bruce MacDonald as its new chair and vice chair.