Progress report: Wiscasset preps for school year in pandemic

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 8:00am
All is a key word in Wiscasset School Department’s approach as the next school year nears and the pandemic continues.
“We will be looking for guidance from the state as well as the CDC before making any final recommendations and decisions. We want to ensure that all staff and all students are safe and we will ensure to the best of our abilities to follow all of the guidelines in whatever model is chosen,” Superintendent of Schools Terry Wood said.
Asked her thoughts on President Donald Trump’s recent call to have children back in school nationwide or have the districts risk losing funding, Wood said, “I believe we are willing to lose funds if it means protecting our staff, students, and families in such a precarious time,” Wood replied to Wiscasset Newspaper. “Lives are much more important than finances. We can use our allocated resources to provide what our staff and students need. We have been resourceful with what we have asked taxpayers for and plan to continue to do so well into the future.”
An email interview July 15 and 16 covered progress on planning.
A survey of parents “to gain some insight as to how families were feeling regarding the start of the new school year, had gotten 160 responses as of July 15 and was set to close July 17. Wood said the survey focused on plans for sending their children back to school in the fall, the number of days, ability to provide transportation; childcare concerns, face coverings, internet and device availability, and a potential hybrid model of learning remotely and in-person.
“We are looking at three possible scenarios,” all remote learning; some in-class and some remote; and completely in-class, Wood continued. Maine Department of Education “will be giving us guidance as to which models we could incorporate. This will be based on the number of COVID cases, CDC recommendations, and (those of) other organizations.
“There will be color codes related to these models: red, yellow and green.” Six committees with staff, parents and school committee members have been meeting weekly for the past month as they address the state's return to school framework and plan wellness, facilities, technology, school operations, instruction and governance. “We are compiling the information in a document that will be shared as we move through the process and decide what each one of the models will look like.”
School Committee Chair Michael Dunn said via text Sunday, he is extremely impressed with how hard Superintendent Wood and the rest of the staff are working on a plan. The many new committees and subcommittees are all working on different components, he noted.
“Yes, it would be ideal if we could just reopen the schools and resume normal practices, but we are making decisions based on what is best for the students and staff. Things will certainly be different, to what extent we'll have to wait and see,” Dunn wrote. “I have the utmost confidence in the leadership in our district to make the proper decisions."