Students at several Lincoln County schools packed their backpacks, pocketed their lunch money, and headed back to the classroom this week for what everyone hopes will be a “normal” school year.
Most COVID-19 school re-opening plans in Lincoln County require that students and staff wear masks when inside school buildings. Social distancing, personal hand-washing, and other COVID-19 guidelines vary.
But the most important feature of the 2021-22 school year across Lincoln County is the commitment of teachers and administrators to keep kids in school.
Whitefield Elementary School opened its doors on Tuesday, Aug. 31. Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta, Bristol Consolidated School, Jefferson Village School, and Nobleboro Central School welcomed students back on Wednesday, Sept. 1.
Erin Michaud teaches physical education and health education at GSB. She observed, “It’s going to be a great school year because we are basically starting … the same as we left off last year, in reference to mask wearing and the idea that a lot of teaching will incorporate the outside classrooms.”
Chelsey Weeks school counselor at NCS is optimistic, too. “I feel very grateful to be learning in person and to be seeing their faces,” she said.
Ira Michaud, new principal at NCS, is excited to see even more than students’ faces.
Seeing their excitement is probably the greatest part of the day. People are ready again for structure. After the summer (they) like having that routine come back into their lives. All I’ve heard from parents is how amazing the learning here is for their kids and how well NCS prepares kids for continued learning – and life,” he said.
Christina Bradbury teaches first grade at BCS.
“I feel like we have that bit of hindsight and what worked last year and what didn’t; we survived being in school all year and we survived being three-feet apart, we can do this. It’s not as intimidating as it was last fall,” she said.
Lincoln Academy welcomed freshman and sophomore students to an orientation day on Sept. 1. Juniors and seniors will join them for the first regular day on Sept. 2.
Head of School Jeff Burroughs said, “It’s so nice to see the kids – even in masks they’re smiling.”
Sophomore Ade Farmer, age 16, would rather be at home, but even he said, “For learning school is better.”
Parent Sandy Kennedy agreed, “I’m glad they’re here. I think it gives them more of the social interaction that they need.”
Five-year-old Roryjean Delaney is looking forward to the social interaction of making new friends at BCS. She was walked to the door by her mother Kelly Delaney.
Roryjean said she likes everything about school. Her mom said they recently moved from Brooklyn, N.Y. and are excited to start at a new school in a new community this year.
Dresden Elementary School starts on Thursday, Sept. 2. Wiscasset, Edgecomb and Boothbay schools, as well as RSU 40 start Sept. 7.
(Reporters Evan Houk, Bisi Cameron Yee, and Nate Poole, and editor Raye S. Leonard contributed to this story.)