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Katahdin region schools grapple with reopening amid outbreak

Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 5:25 PM EDT
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KATAHDIN REGION, Maine (WABI) - Schools in the Katahdin Region are grappling with reopening during the fallout from an outbreak of COVID-19 in the area.

”Our first priority is keeping students safe,” says Medway Middle School Principal Alyssa Dickinson. She says coronavirus in the region has altered reopening plans.

“Things have changed. We had planned previously in August to come back on a hybrid schedule with students rotating through in-person days and remote days. With the outbreak, we felt like it was no longer our safest option to have students in the building.”

Students at Medway will start September 14th with all-virtual learning. The approach will be reassessed on the 28th.

East Millinocket schools had six employees, including the superintendent, test positive as part of the larger outbreak that started at a wedding and reception in the region. Positive cases linked to that event have now reached 123.

East Millinocket has adopted a similar approach to Medway, with all students starting remotely.

”We’ve got thousands of masks, thousands of shields, hand sanitizer, UV wands, temperature thermometers,” says Millinocket School System Superintendent Francis Boynton.

They’re allowing for in-person learning as part of their hybrid system.

”We’ve been working diligently all summer long trying to get everything organized so that it will work, and I think we’ve got a good plan, and I think we’re going to do our best to implement that plan.”

Parents who have opted for in-school learning can change their mind and go remote, but those who start with the remote option must stick to that decision for at least eight weeks.

“Analytical checks week two, week four, week six,and if we do any changes, it’ll be in week eight.”

Whatever the plan, teachers and administrators are proceeding with caution.

”What’s the best choice for our community?” said Dickinson. “We’re always making the decision with what to do with school with that in mind.”

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