AOS 91 Superintendent Dr. Marc Gousse sent the following letter , on Sunday, July 12th, to parents within the MDI Regional School System regarding the reopening of schools and the work of various subcommittees.

Good Morning,
I hope this email finds you healthy safe and well.

Last Thursday evening (July 08) we held a safe return to school advisory meeting; I am pleased to report we are making steady progress in planning for the return of students and staff to our schools this coming fall.

In addition to the work of this advisory group, subcommittees are actively meeting concurrently with the main task force and our administrative team is working throughout the summer to align preliminary recommendations and plans. As you may be aware, as of July 01st, our school year staff (administration and support staff) returned to work in our buildings and offices using social distancing, PPE and recommended health and safety protocols (CDC, MDOE). Although school buildings remain closed to the general public at this time - offices are staffed and prepared to answer any questions you may have or assist you with any requests throughout the summer. Through established safety protocols school staff are also permitted to return to buildings to retrieve personal items and begin preparing for the next school year. The MDIRSS AOS # 91 central office is open Monday through Friday (8 am -4 pm) by phone/email or by scheduling an appointment.
As we actively plan for and prepare for the safe return to our schools for our students we recognize choices will need to be made by some given potential scenarios of in person, hybrid or the possibility of remote teaching/learning as determined by health and safety data. Our primary goal and focus is to provide for, and return to, in person instruction in all MDIRSS AOS # 91 schools for the 2020-2021 academic year. That stated, there are many variables to consider and plan for as we work towards that goal. I understand the importance and necessity of providing details regarding what school may look like this coming fall however, it is important we remain mindful that any plans, recommendations or decisions that may be made are subject to change based upon data and the impact COVID-19 may have locally. I encourage everyone to consider and be prepared for any of the following possibilities to include but not limited to:
• Direct instruction in schools
• Direct instruction in schools through modified scheduling
• A hybrid model (a combination of direct and remote instruction)
• Remote instruction - if necessary

In determining the plan for our safe return to our schools we are actively networking with representatives from the Downeast COVID-19 task force, Healthy Acadia, MDI Hospital, Jackson Laboratory, MDI Bio Lab, Acadia National Park, College of the Atlantic, Maine Department of Education, Hancock County superintendents, town officials and many others. We are actively working to identify and implement resources and supports which will reduce risk and minimize exposure to all as we are aware and remain cognizant in any instance there can never be assurances to anyone of eliminating any/all potential risk associated with this Pandemic in any setting - public or private. In any of the above scenarios we remain cognizant of potential risk and as such will require the employment and use of PPE (masks) and other recommended safeguards as necessary. As we consider next steps, we must all remain flexible and open to considering and implementing multiple scenarios including modified schedules, transportation, food service and related supports. I understand the desire and need for details and specifics for planning however, any information provided at this time is speculative and premature at best. Clearly communication, collaboration and flexibility by all must remain a core component in considering any next steps and decisions.

Given many municipal playgrounds and recreational areas (including State and National Parks) have reopened throughout our county and communities, school playgrounds, the MDIHS track and tennis courts will be available for limited use beginning on Monday July 13th. Use of these facilities is subject to all current safety guidelines (social distancing, PPE). Gyms, weight rooms and school buildings remain off limits to the public at this time and information on accessing these facilities will be forthcoming as becomes available.
Our time line for reporting next steps remains on target as we work to provide preliminary recommendations and plans for the coming school year to the MDIRSS AOS # 91 School Board in August. As this work progresses I look forward to providing further updates and details as soon as possible. Students, parents and staff are reminded to monitor communications and updates for additional information as this work progresses.

Thank you for your continued support of our students as we plan for our safe return to schools. Please take care and stay safe.
Marc Edward Gousse, Ed.D.
MDIRSS AOS # 91 Superintendent of Schools

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