Return to School 2020-21: Interim Update for Families
In the interest of ongoing communications with our families, I wanted to give you an interim update on our planning for the return to school.
As the parent and staff surveys we conducted over the last two months indicate, the RSU is planning for three possible scenarios. The excerpts, copied below, from the Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction developed by the Maine Department of Education provide a general sense of the three scenarios and help you see that our planning is aligned with state guidance:
- All Maine schools/SAUs should have three plans for the fall: returning to in-person instruction (with health and safety guidelines in place) for all students where there is low risk of the Covid-19; a “hybrid” instruction plan; and a remote instruction plan. The goal of a hybrid education model is to reduce the numbers of students and staff in one place at the same time when there is a moderate risk of transmission of Covid-19. The goal of a fully remote plan is to mitigate the impact when community health metrics indicate a high level of risk.
- When a school or SAU lacks the capacity to meet the health and safety guidelines required for a “green” or “low risk” designation based on local public health metrics, or when a school/SAU receives a “yellow” or “moderate risk” designation based on local public health metrics, a hybrid model may be used to reduce group size and increase capacity for physical distancing.
In preparing multiple educational models for close to 2000 students, across 10 schools, in response to conditions that could change rapidly, and in alignment with emerging guidance, the RSU has been grateful for the insights and perspectives we received in response to our surveys. One clear conclusion we can draw from the data is that a majority of parents and staff who responded believe that children learn and grow best--and belong-- in school; while at the same time, they have real concerns about health and safety. It is with these overarching priorities in mind that we work on our plans.
To date, the RSU 2 COVID-19 Response Team has met regularly for the past several weeks for hours at a stretch on the details of the three plans we must have in place. This is not easy going, and I am proud of our team’s tenacity in confronting difficulties, their willingness to check and adjust, and their consideration of multiple perspectives. Of course, such care takes time, and we are mindful that parents, students, employees, and the community at large are anxious about next year and want to be informed. In the coming days, we plan to release three overview charts that map out the details of each of the three scenarios. In addition to the information provided by the DOE in the excerpts above, the charts will include the implications and safety measures associated with each scenario so that parents and students will be able to begin preparing mentally and practically for the fall. It will be on the basis of these district-level documents that school-based teams will plan for local implementation in each school community.
Please look for further updates in the near future.
Thank you for your attention, your support, and your patience.
KIDS RSU 2
7 Reed St.
Hallowell, ME 04347