Public and private schools across Lincoln County have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Initial closures range from two to six weeks. School officials say they will reevaluate as the situation develops.
Schools are taking varying approaches to issues such as distance learning, while all public schools will continue to provide meals in some form.
Announcements of school closures poured in Sunday, March 15, with the closures going into effect Monday, March 16.
AOS 93, RSU 2, RSU 12, and Wiscasset schools closed for two weeks; AOS 98 schools closed for six weeks; Lincoln Academy has closed for a week while it transitions to virtual instruction, which will continue for five weeks; and RSU 40 schools closed for five weeks.
The moves followed announcements of school closures across the state. As of press time, Lincoln County had one confirmed and one presumptive positive case of COVID-19.
Officials and statements from all of the public and private schools except AOS 93 and RSU 2 said faculty members are planning for distance learning and other alternatives during school closures.
In an email to staff on Tuesday, March 17, the AOS 93 administration explained that no replacement or remote instruction will be provided at this time, but encouraged staff to “send home suggestions and resources for healthy activities to support learning.”
The administration told teachers to stay in contact with students and their families and provide communication and support.
RSU 2 acting Superintendent Mary Paine wrote that “this is a full school closure with no expectations for remote learning.”
“Administrators and teachers will report to work on Monday as normal,” AOS 98 Superintendent Keith Laser said in a post on the district website Sunday afternoon. “We will be developing plans for remote learning opportunities and will distribute that plan as soon as we are adequately prepared. I envision that we will be in a position to offer educational services by the end of the week.”
“This is a decision I am not taking lightly,” Laser said. “I know that it will be a tremendous strain on some of our families and our employees depending on each of your personal situations. Nonetheless, we must do our part in practicing social distancing in an effort to minimize the impact of the coronavirus and keep our community as healthy as possible. … Thank you for your understanding during this modern unprecedented health emergency.”
All public schools will provide meals in some way: with curbside pickup, delivery by bus, or working with local food providers.
Lincoln County Summer Meals posted on its Facebook page that it will provide free lunches for all children under the age of 18 because of the school closures. The group will post dates, times, and locations for meal pickup on its Facebook page.
Wiscasset School Department Superintendent Terry L. Wood said in a letter that teachers will develop distance-learning experiences for students.
Wiscasset Elementary School will offer curbside pickup of breakfast and lunch for any child under age 18 from 8-10 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. The school plans to provide meals for two or three days at a time.
Lincoln Academy Head of School Jeffrey Burroughs, in an email update Tuesday, March 17, included a link to a document developed by the LA administration entitled “Virtual Learning at Lincoln Academy” as guidance for faculty, students, and their families.
“I stand firmly with the Governor, the State Health Department and our nation in support of our efforts to flatten the curve,” Burroughs wrote. “Please take these next two weeks to connect with your family, play games, take walks and find comfort in our shared purpose of slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Lincoln County and the greater community.”
Commissioner Pender Makin, of the Maine Department of Education, issued a statement Sunday, March 15 recommending “that schools cease classroom-based instruction as soon as practicable and for an indefinite period of time.”
The department held several virtual meetings with content area specialists to provide support and guidance regarding distance learning Monday, March 16.
Private schools have followed the recommendations too.
The Damariscotta Montessori School in Nobleboro is closed until further notice. Coastal Christian School in Waldoboro closed for five weeks.
The Center for Teaching and Learning, in Edgecomb, closed for two weeks and will reevaluate at the end of that time. Wiscasset Christian Academy closed for two weeks.
Chewonki Elementary and Middle School, of the Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset, closed for a week, but the foundation’s Maine Coast Semester program will delay the return of students for another two weeks.
Also at Chewonki, the Outdoor Classroom program has suspended all programming until Monday, March 23. Chewonki Waypoint has canceled all in-person programming and events until March 23. The Traveling Natural History Program has canceled public appearances for March 16-20.
The Juniper Hill School for Place-based Education, in Alna, closed for at least two weeks.
Little House School in Damariscotta is following Lincoln Academy’s lead and will not have in-person classes for six weeks.
Damariscotta-based AOS 93 has five elementary schools: Bristol Consolidated School, Great Salt Bay Community School, Jefferson Village School, Nobleboro Central School, and South Bristol School.
Boothbay Harbor-based AOS 98 consists of Boothbay Region Elementary School, Boothbay Region High School, Edgecomb Eddy School, and Southport Central School in Lincoln County, plus Georgetown Central School in Sagadahoc County.
RSU 2 includes one school in Lincoln County, Dresden Elementary School.
RSU 12 includes two schools in Lincoln County, Whitefield Elementary School and Somerville School. The district also includes Chelsea Elementary School, Palermo Consolidated School, and Windsor Elementary School.
RSU 40 includes three schools in Lincoln County: Miller School, Medomak Middle School, and Medomak Valley High School, all in Waldoboro. The Union-based district also includes Friendship Village School, Prescott Memorial School in Washington, Union Elementary School, and Warren Community School.
The Wiscasset School Department consists of Wiscasset Elementary School and Wiscasset Middle High School.