The following letter was distributed Aug. 28 by RSU 71 Superintendent Mary Alice McLean.
Dear RSU # 71 Students, Families, Staff, School Board and Community Members,
This message is to update our community about 1) the state of our preparedness to return to in-person instruction 2) start dates for in-person and remote instruction 3) time-spans for K-12 in-person and remote learning plans 4) the importance of following the non-negotiable safety protocols required by the Maine CDC, which necessarily apply to all students and all staff coming into schools 5) our plans for remote learning 6) our plans-to-date for fall sports and 7) our bus transportation protocols.
We are very excited to be at this point in time, poised to welcome back our beloved RSU # 71 students beginning next week!!
1) Preparedness - We have been hard at work preparing for students to return to in-person instruction. There have been many deliveries of box fans, picnic tables, tents, outdoor furniture, and pallets of additional PPE. Siemens is hard at work on our HVAC and O2 Prime Systems. We have demarcated hallways, and stairways with blue and gold arrows and paw prints to allow for safe passage between locations following all safety protocols required by Maine CDC. We have created the isolation rooms required by the Maine CDC to use in the event anyone manifests COVID-19 symptoms. There are HYGIENE stations throughout our buildings. Staff members are feeling cautiously optimistic and well-supported. We are very nearly ready!
2) Start Dates of In-Person Instruction and Remote Learning - On Monday and Tuesday of next week, there are orientations, open houses, and parent information sessions planned in schools. On Wednesday, September 2, students will return to in-person instruction, with the exception of East Belfast and Kermit Nickerson Schools; these schools will welcome students back three school days later than the other schools, with the first day being on Tuesday, September 8. After launching in-person instruction in most schools next week, we will be ready to launch Remote Learning Plans the following week. Beginning September 8 remote teachers will be in touch with students and their families. (Please see the Remote Learning Plan below.)
3) Time-Span for In-Person and Remote Learning Plans - A HUGE amount of work has gone into creating personalized plans for our students returning in person and for our students staying in remote learning. For this reason, K-8 students will need to stick with the identified plans for the entire first trimester; high school students will be asked to stick with their plans for the entire first semester.
4) Safety Protocols - A necessary precondition of learning and working in person is a willingness to follow all safety protocols required by the Maine CDC. These include a) wearing masks b) observing all social distancing protocols c) observing hand-hygiene protocols and d) screening for COVID-10 symptoms before school every day. Gators, bandanas, face shields, and venting masks generally do not qualify as acceptable face coverings because they are too porous. (If you can blow out a candle or fog up a mirror when you breathe out then the face covering is too porous to be effective.) If you have a fever of 100 degrees or higher or any of the symptoms outlined in our screening protocols you should not come to school.
6) Fall Sports -
Belfast Area High School - AT BAHS fall teams are currently practicing under MPA Phase IV guidelines and will continue to follow those guidelines next week. Tryouts are scheduled for Tuesday, September 8th. We expect to receive updated guidelines for each sport before tryouts begin. State agencies are currently reviewing the MPA fall sports recommendations. Our plan is to review these recommendations and consider them as we determine to what degree we offer options for athletics.
7) Transportation Protocols - Parents who are able to are encouraged to transport their children to school or to walk or bicycle with their children to school. Students with drivers' licenses and cars are encouraged to drive to school and to WCTC. The RSU 71 transportation department will be following all CDC and DOE requirements for the 2020/21 school year. These requirements include:
- All students and drivers must wear masks while on the bus.
- All students will sanitize (mounted on the bus) upon entering and exiting the bus.
- Social distancing will occur to the best of our ability with 1 or 2 students per seat.
I am grateful to all staff members who have done an outstanding job getting ready for back-to-school this week.
As always please feel free to be in touch with principals, directors, and me to ask questions, seek clarification, and share feedback and ideas.
Sincerely, Gratefully and Optimistically Yours,