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Maine Department of Education breaks down plans for schools to reopen

Maine DOE on back to school
Maine DOE on back to school(Owen Kingsley)
Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 5:33 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - It’s on the minds of students, parents, and teachers. What will school look like in the fall?

Maine’s Department of Education has now laid out more specific guidelines in preparation for students returning to the classroom.

Governor Mills announced the plans Friday not as mandates, but a resource for school districts around Maine to start looking at and decide what best suits them.

The decision on whether or not to bring students back into the classroom can be guided by a new three tiered system of Maine’s counties, red, yellow or green.

“The designation of red indicates the county has a high risk of COVID-19 and that in classroom learning at schools should not be conducted,” said Governor Janet Mills.

Yellow indicates a suggested hybrid of virtual and in person learning.

Green indicates in person learning with safety measures.

“If there is something going on that might potentially be restrictive to one area of the county that may not affect schooling in another part of the county, we will take that into account as we work with school districts,” said Maine CDC Director, Dr. Nirav Shah.

The tiered system can be viewed on the Maine Department of Education's website beginning July 31st.

If it's recommended a school bring students back, six key safety requirements come into play: Screening for symptoms, maintaining physical distancing, face masks for all students and staff, hand hygiene, wearing personal protective equipment indoors, and staying home if you're sick.

If a student shows symptoms of COVID-19, here is what the response might look like.

“Contact tracing, testing, making sure that children who are affected are minimizing the risk of infecting others. So we’ve got those protocols in place as well as the communication chain from the school to the department over to Maine CDC,” said Shah.

President Trump last week threatened to cut federal funding to states that do not permit classroom learning.

Governor Mills says she is not taking the President's threat into consideration.

“Decisions on how best to return our kids to in classroom schooling will be made in Maine, not in Washington D.C.” said Mills.

The Governor plans to use federal money, too, to help with the transition back to school.

“We’ll provide start up funds up to $165 million from Maine’s remaining CARES ACT fund,” said Mills.

None of the guidance presented Friday is set in stone and is expected to be modified between now and the beginning of the new school year.

The Education Department has posted the requirements for returning to in class instruction.

Copyright 2020 WABI. All rights reserved.

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