7/21/2020 Letter to School Families

Dear RSU #34 Schools’ Families,

Each day, we are getting closer to a recommendation regarding the return to school this fall. We will send a community letter once we have the red-yellow-green categorization of different counties across the state that the Maine Department of Education (M-DOE) intends to publish on July 31, 2020. This designation will correspond to Maine Department of Education Framework for Return to Classroom Instruction      https://www.maine.gov/doe/framework.  The decision on whether or not to bring students back into the classroom will be guided by the three tiered system for each of Maine’s sixteen counties. The designation of RED indicates the county has a high risk of COVID-19 and that in classroom learning at schools should not be conducted. YELLOW indicates a suggested hybrid of virtual and in person learning. GREEN indicates in person learning with safety measures. If there is something going on that might potentially be restrictive to one area of the county that may not affect schooling in another part of the county, that information will be taken into account in discussions with the Maine DOE and Maine CDC as we work to make the right decision for schools in RSU #34.  If the recommendation is to bring students back, six key safety requirements come into play: Screening for symptoms, maintaining physical distancing, face masks for all students and staff, hand hygiene, wearing personal protective equipment indoors, and staying home if you're sick.

Our local Collaborative Planning Team comprised of parents, teachers, staff and administrators updated the School Board on July 15th on plans being considered.  The slides used in this presentation can be viewed here: www.tinyurl.com/y75puy48  

It would be premature for us to finalize and report any specific plan before receipt of information regarding specifics of the Red/Yellow/Green system of monitoring the spread of the virus is received and taken into consideration. However, please know that we have been hard at work thinking through the different possible scenarios, ordering PPE, and cleaning and preparing our buildings. We have had a chance to reflect on the months of remote learning, as well beginning to analyze the response we are receiving to our parent/guardian survey. If you have not completed this survey, please go to our website, www.RSU34.org and do so today.  All of this has helped us to think more clearly about this fall, and while we worked hard to do a good job last spring, we will improve and do an even better job of helping your students to learn and grow in any model. We stand ready to support all our students whatever their needs while implementing best practice to protect the health of our students, their families and our staff.

Our goal is to have a specific return to school plan that will be discussed at a special virtual School Board meeting in early August. A link for that meeting will be sent to our families and posted on the district’s website so anyone can tune in to hear important details about our plan. This will also give families time to prepare and ask any questions you may have. While we wish it could be sooner, we continue to deal with information regarding the virus that changes daily.  To that end, once we have all the critical pieces of information we can gather, we will act quickly to finalize our plan and get you quality information.

We remain dedicated to establishing a safe, effective model to begin the 2020-2021 school year and are hopeful that by the time we make the turn for spring and the last quarter of the year we will see things returning to normal. Until then we will continue to be patient and move with appropriate caution keeping safety, social/emotional wellness, and learning in mind.

David A. Walker

Superintendent of Schools