RSU 24 Michael Eastman sent out the following letter to parents and students on Friday, July 31st

Dear Parents and Students,

I hope this letter finds each of you happy and healthy and enjoying this warm summer weather.  The purpose of this letter is to provide an update regarding the return to school in the fall.   Please know that the first day of school has been moved to September 8th to accommodate the need for additional planning and preparation for our students to arrive.

We will be releasing a plan by the end of next week that describes what the beginning of our school year looks like.  Our plan will try to balance the needs of our students and staff with the needs of our parents.  There is no perfect plan as we are in uncharted territories and we will need to do our best to be flexible, understanding and patient.  It is also important to point out that we will need to be prepared to change our method of providing education at a moment's notice as will be determined by the spread (or lack thereof) of COVID-19.

Our plan will follow, to the best of our ability, the guidance provided by the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  There may be areas of operations that won’t be perfectly aligned but we will do our best to provide a safe environment for all that are involved.  The following foundational expectations will be in place to start the school year:

  1. Students (parents/caregivers) and staff members must conduct self-checks for COVID-19 symptoms prior to boarding a bus or entering school buildings each day. (see document at this LINK)
  2. Students and staff will maintain appropriate social distancing (3’-6’) while in a school vehicle and on school property.
  3. Face coverings will be worn by every person while in a school vehicle and in a school building.  Your child’s school will send home an appropriate face covering prior to the start of school.  Children may bring face coverings from home as long as the mask: fits snugly against the side of the face, completely covers the nose and mouth, is secured with ties or ear loops, includes multiple layers of fabric, and allows for breathing without restriction.
  4. Students and staff will receive guidance regarding proper hand hygiene and will expect anyone in our buildings or on our school buses to practice good hygiene.
  5. We will provide appropriate protective equipment (barriers, etc) in each of our vehicles and buildings.
  6. We will be greatly reducing and in some cases, eliminating access to our schools for anyone other than students and teachers.
  7. We expect that students and staff will remain home when ill and the school will have very specific protocols in place for students and staff returning to our buildings or riding in our vehicles.

It is important to note that the guidelines we are expected to follow present challenges regarding our ability to transport students to and from school.  We are continuing to examine the number of students, the number of bus routes, and the number of drivers needed in order to adhere to the guidelines.  There may be an impact on our operations that will be difficult to overcome.  Please note that the more parents/families that will provide transportation to and from school for their students, the better our ability will be to serve more students for in person learning.  We will keep you abreast of this situation as it develops.

We are very much interested in hearing your voice regarding needs and priorities as they pertain to the return to school plan for the Fall.  As a result, we will be offering several online opportunities for students and parents to connect with District and School leaders to collaborate and communicate together.  The intent of these sessions is not to approve or disapprove of the re-entry plan, but to provide input regarding the priority needs of and imperative systems for our students and families in the different types of scenarios that could be experienced throughout the school year (in person with COVID precautions, hybrid plan to reduce populations in each building at once, and out-of-school learning ).  The following dates are available AND the necessary Zoom links are provided for those who are interested in participating.

For parents:    Monday, August 10th, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/87596787259

Wednesday, August 12th, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/83056232207

For Students:    Monday, August 10th from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

(Grades 6-12)    https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/82961328682

If you are unable to attend but have input that you would like to provide, please feel free to email me at meastman@rsu24.org.

We have some challenging times ahead of us.  Staff, parents, and most importantly, our students will be impacted by the implications of COVID-19.  Our schools and the programming that we offer will not look or feel the same.  With that said, we are committed to doing our very best to meet the needs of our students.  We will experience frustration, anger, and sadness throughout this reentry into the school year, but I am hopeful that together, we will make the 2020-2021 school year a successful one.  We look forward to working with you.

 

Sincerely,

Michael Eastman