The RSU 12 Board of Directors adopted the district’s school reopening plan and school calendar Thursday, Aug. 13.
The 16-page plan expands on a July 30 letter from Superintendent Howard Tuttle, which stated that RSU 12 schools would reopen for in-person instruction, although families could opt for distance learning.
The Maine Department of Education and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention have categorized all 16 Maine counties as “green,” meaning they have low risk for COVID-19 transmission and schools can reopen for in-person instruction. The state will update the categorizations every two weeks.
According to RSU 12’s plan, the district will continue to offer transportation, but encourages families to provide their own whenever possible. Everyone on the bus must wear masks. Students will be spread out when possible. Hand sanitizer will be provided, windows will be open when possible, and bus routes may be reconfigured to maximize space on buses.
Outside organizations will not be allowed to use school buildings, with possible exemptions for municipal functions, like voting.
The reopening plan also provides guidance for the social and emotional well-being of students and staff. School staff will undergo training to increase awareness of the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The district will implement the Restorative Practices approach to help students feel comfortable in their new learning environment. For more information about the approach, see centerforrestorativeprocess.com.
Tuttle said at the meeting that he knows the process will be difficult for students, staff, and families.
“We’re asking teachers to teach two groups of students. We’re asking them to teach students in class and remotely at the same time,” he said.
The board also approved the 2020-2021 school calendar. The school day for all RSU 12 schools will be 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“The schedule has been altered in order for educators to prepare and communicate with remote learners,” the plan states.
No early arrivals or congregating outside schools will be allowed, and students will be required to stay in their vehicles until school starts.
Additionally, the district is working with RSU 40 on a plan to combine adult education programs for the upcoming school year. According to Tuttle, the plan could cut RSU 12’s adult ed budget by 50%. He hopes to have a draft document ready in September.
RSU 12 includes the towns of Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield, and Windsor.