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Parents worry over “unknowns” of school reopening

With a little over a month left to go before school starts back -- state education leaders are still finalizing plans for what that will look like. This has many parents concerned.
With a little over a month left to go before school starts back -- state education leaders are still finalizing plans for what that will look like. This has many parents concerned.(WCJB)
Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 3:53 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - As local schools continue to work out the details of returning to school in the fall, many parents are beginning to worry.

From work, to childcare to the unknown, there are a lot of concerns.

“We’re literally four or five weeks away and we still don’t know,” says Carrie Smith, a mother from Bangor.

Smith has a seven and twelve-year-old in the Bangor school system.

She's a parent advocating for a full week of in-classroom instruction in the fall.

“I think these kids have been through a lot since March and they’re ready to get back to some sort of normalcy,” she says.

Smith had to step away from work to take care of her kids because childcare she says is a major issue, “Childcare in this area is already hard to find. They also don’t accommodate a couple of days on and a couple of days off. That’s just not how childcare works. I don’t see how working families will be able to juggle it if it’s not a Monday through Friday school schedule.”

Brittany Layman is a parent and the school nurse at McGraw Elementary School in Hampden.

“I have one kiddo who did great. She’s in 8th grade and she can really master that online. But my youngest daughter is in special ed and she needs that support,” she says.

Layman is also in favor of returning to a full-time schedule, even with CDC guidelines to follow like mask wearing and temperature taking in place.

She says these are necessities for safety, ”That’ll have its own challenges to be able to do all that but I’m feeling really confident in our district that we can do that.”

But like most parents, including Smith the real issue is the unknown.

Layman says, ”We love a plan. We love to know what’s happening next and this whole thing since March 13th we haven’t known.”

“You can plan one way and then you’re thrown a curveball and the entire situation changes. That’s what I fear,” says Smith.

The Department of Education is scheduled to share a color-coded system for counties on July 31st.

The red, yellow, green classifications guide schools on whether they should pursue remote learning, a combination of remote and in-class learning or full time in-class learning.

The majority of decisions regarding reopening will be made on a local level by individual school departments.

Bangor school officials are expected to release their plans to the school committee Wednesday night.

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