With all 16 counties OK’d July 31 for a full return to school, many school districts are now awaiting local decision-making. The Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District has been working all along on a variety of plans including the “yellow” or “red” classification alternatives – hybrid in-person and distance learning and absolute distance learning – Maine Department of Education outlined July 17.
Principals Tricia Campbell of Boothbay Region High School and Shawna Kurr of Boothbay Region Elementary School are among the handful of administrators in the CSD who have been planning for the scenarios. On the eve of the decision from Augusta, Campbell said she and Kurr presented to the CSD Re-opening Advisory Committee on the afternoon of July 30.
Said Campbell, “As we consider the if and when we will return to the classrooms this fall, we will follow the framework released by the Maine Department of Education in conjunction with the CDC. There are some details that we still need to work out in all scenarios; however at this point, we feel prepared for any scenario.”
Six requirements from MDOE will guide a return to school: daily screening for symptoms for students and staff, strict physical distancing in school facilities, use of masks or face coverings, regular hand hygiene practice, upkeep of personal protective equipment (PPE) and measures outlined for return to school after an illness.
A green classification may mean schools can return to pre-COVID-19 standards of education within those six requirements; however, the July 31 release said that does not preclude districts from developing plans which may better meet their students’ needs. Campbell said any decision from MDOE means the CSD will need to weigh the number of returning staff and students, determine bus arrival and dismissal procedures and decide on an instructional model.
Said Campbell, “As soon as our Advisory Committee has approved the draft plans, we will then take them to the entire staff and board for review. Once the board gives us approval, we will share our work and planning with families and the community.”
The July 31 release said since circumstances can change before the official starts of the school year, data will be updated bi-weekly for school administration and district leaders to use for decision-making.
The next CSD meeting is at 5 p.m. Aug. 12.