Wiscasset Middle High School’s Facebook page announced Sunday afternoon: “Students in Wiscasset schools will not have school starting on Monday, March 16 and schools will stay closed until March 27.” Superintendent of Schools Terry Wood emailed local newspapers the following letter:
“Dear School Community,
“We have continued to monitor and evaluate the COVID-19 situation closely this weekend. I have gathered information from many sources, heard from many of you, and paid attention to the updates. It is absolutely clear to me that the only responsible decision I can make to help prevent and slow the spread of the virus is to close our schools. Students will not have school starting on Monday, March 16, and we will stay closed for two weeks, through March 27. I know that many of you have been waiting for this decision and I appreciate your patience. It is not an easy one to come to when the Maine CDC is not recommending school closures. It is also not an easy one to come to knowing that the decision comes with its own set of other hardships for people in our community.
All staff will report to work on Monday, March 16. We will discuss the expectations for all staff members during these two weeks. Teachers will be developing distance learning experiences for students. We are hopeful that these plans will maintain a level of instructional enrichment for students, but we realize that there is no substitute for classroom instruction. We will attempt to provide educational opportunities but recognize that there will be limitations. Staff will be available during these two weeks to communicate with students and families via email, class dojo, and Google classroom.
“We care very much about the impact of a school closing on our community and want to work together to find creative ways to support the community at large. I know that we as a community can come together and make sure that we all pitch in to help the community as a whole to take care of our collective needs. We are in the process of coordinating a feeding program that will be open for all students – more details will be available soon.
“We also ask that your children continue social distancing guidelines. It is counterproductive to a school closure if large groups of students are gathering for play dates or parties. Keep groups small. Continue handwashing. Adhere to travel guidelines. Please, our community depends on you, too.
“We understand that students may need to get things from school – something they left in a locker, a band instrument, books, or an ipad. That is fine. Students and/or their parents can come to school anytime during normal hours and get what is needed this week.
Wood recommended the following articles about parenting during this time: https://parenting.nytimes.com/preschooler/coronavirus-schools-lessons?action=click&module=series-recirc&rank=3 and https://hbr.org/2020/03/how-working-parents-can-prepare-for-coronavirus-closures?utm_campaign=803af0281a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_13_12_15&utm_term=0_3e3724a19a-803af0281a-386741781&mc_cid=803af0281a&mc_eid=9919a97477&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=84722747&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_TXMKWrrninNBQWyus3cytspbUqtWD30SwZijcv72qOwZCpqdt5WvTHMYdcho-GyiiiWjsGGcNadhmyqywHixkalC-OO_Vf4pP0_TAoZRfh0lHCFg&_hsmi=84722747
Original post: Wiscasset School Department is increasing custodians’ hours and disinfecting classrooms, locker fronts, hand railings, bathrooms and all other public areas daily, according to a Saturday, March 14 letter from Superintendent of Schools Terry Wood. The letter, posted on wiscassetschools.org Saturday, adds: “Appropriate cleaners are being used for disinfection.”
The letter is Wood’s second in about a week to parents on the coronavirus; the letter reiterates a March 6 one’s prevention tips and it updates parents on the department’s efforts.
“We are receiving updates as the Maine Department of Education is working directly with Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor this evolving situation,” Wood writes. “We will continue to provide new information to the community as things change.”
The department website’s live feed on Saturday said to check frequently for updates “as this is a continually changing situation.”
School Committee Chair Michael Dunn agreed Saturday night. “This is a very fluid situation, subject to change at any moment. No matter what we do someone will have an objection. Terry has been working diligently with state and DOE officials to respond appropriately based on the situation, but even today's response could change tomorrow. Stay tuned,” Dunn wrote in a text reply to questions.
Asked if a possible shutdown had been discussed, Dunn answered: “It is certainly a possibility being seriously considered, and ongoing events and conversations are continuing to effect the outcome.”