The following letter was distributed Wednesday, Aug. 12 by Islesboro Central School Head of School Chuck Hamm:
Dear ICS Community,
I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones healthy and able to spend time outside, enjoying the beautiful Maine Coast. We are fortunate to live in a place with such natural beauty and diverse outdoor opportunities. As the summer weeks go by, we prepare for several contingencies this fall with an eye on attending school in person.
The ICS Reopening Committee, comprising 18 people, included parents, staff, administration, counselors, and medical personnel, were charged with researching multiple resources, identifying current best practices, and presenting recommendations to the ICS Leadership Team. Through staff and family surveys, the committee has carefully considered the needs and capacity of the Islesboro community both on and off campus.
The ICS Reopening Plan will align with the green, yellow, and red outbreak categories as outlined by Maine’s CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah. Recognizing Islesboro’s proactive focus on protecting Islesboro’s people and resources, our plan errs on the side of caution.
We expect the plan to made public as early as Thursday morning, August 13. Simultaneously, the Leadership Team is working on scheduling, determining classroom capacities, and gathering information from other school districts and states. The team is also taking into consideration CDC guidelines, DOE recommendations, and local health experts’ advice as they develop safety procedures.
No less important are the measures being taken by the Facilities Committee.
To teach and learn outside as much as possible, we’ve built an outdoor classroom/deck with sunscreen. We’ve also purchased picnic tables and tents, and will clean and revitalize our campus trail system. Signage will be installed throughout the school as
well as additional hands free hand sanitizing units.
Our air handling units are performing at maximum levels. We’re adding MoLEKULE air purifiers to every room throughout the school. PPEs and infrared thermometers have been ordered, transportation issues are being hammered out, and food service personnel are working diligently to provide the safest method of providing meals. The safety of students, staff, and their families is paramount to our preparations.
Being a K-12 school with a Magnet Program presents ICS with unique challenges. We serve students and staff from a large geographical area. We will implement all reasonable measures to mitigate exposure between grade levels and commuters across the bay. We will do everything we can to socially distance and isolate the elementary students from the middle school and high school population.
Families who live on Islesboro through the fall are welcome to enroll their children. Every child in Maine has the right to a free public education. A child may attend school in the district or town in which she/he lives. ICS welcomes newcomers and looks forward to hosting new students to our already diverse student population.
Upon reflection, we realized we needed to address aging devices for online learning. In response to family and teacher feedback, we’ve recently provided all middle school students with new iPads and high school students and teachers with new MacBook Airs. We also hired a technology Integrator with the goal of teaching classes and providing support to families, staff, and students. With these strategies in place, we’ll be prepared to return to remote learning at a moment’s notice should the need arise.
Social and emotional support will also be important in dealing with the stresses and trauma associated with the coronavirus. Crucial to our plan will be systems in place that will address the social and emotional health of our school community. The pandemic has presented a difficult path for the families we serve. It has been exhausting and unsettling for staff and students alike.
\We strive to develop plans that will safely allow us to get back to school according to the prevailing science and data available. We miss our students terribly, but remain vigilant in keeping their safety at the forefront of our reopening plans.
With great pride, I report ICS will continue to serve our students and honor our commitment to public education to the very best of our abilities throughout this pandemic.
Be thoughtful, be caring, and be kind.