RSU 12 schools will reopen for in-person instruction this fall, but families can opt for distance learning instead, according to a July 30 letter from Superintendent Howard Tuttle.
The Maine Department of Education and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention have categorized all 16 of Maine’s counties as “green,” meaning they are at low risk for COVID-19 and can fully reopen schools. The state will update the categorizations every two weeks.
RSU 12 includes parts of Kennebec, Lincoln, and Waldo counties, and will follow the guidelines for whichever county has the highest risk level.
If the categorization changes to “yellow,” the district will split students into two groups that alternate in-person instruction days. Group 1 will go to school Monday and Tuesday, while Group 2 will go to school Thursday and Friday. All students will learn remotely on Wednesday.
If the categorization changes to “red,” all students will learn remotely.
According to the letter, there is “a high degree of likelihood” that RSU 12 schools will transition between models.
Although all counties have been categorized as “green,” families in RSU 12 will have two options for students returning to school — in-person education or online education. Families who choose the online option will have to commit to remote learning until at least Jan. 2, 2021.
Tuttle recommends that families who choose the online option have high-speed internet, a computer, and adults at home to support the student.
“Please note that RSU 12 will do their best to provide work, instruction, and feedback to students who choose Option 2, but do not expect the same quality of instruction as one would receive in Option 1,” Tuttle said in the letter.
Students and faculty members in schools will have to follow requirements from the Maine Department of Education and Maine CDC, including at-home symptom screening, physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and washing hands.
All RSU 12 parents and guardians were asked to submit an online form by midnight, Wednesday, Aug. 5 to indicate which option they expect to choose.
RSU 12 includes the towns of Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield, and Windsor.