Wiscasset will tweak its busing, lunch and recess times as it sees how long the safety steps are taking for each, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Terry Wood told the school committee Tuesday night, Sept. 8, hours after the first day with students at school since March. “We are really making sure that we are following all the guidelines that the state of Maine has given us ... So we feel very comfortable and confident that we have done it.”
Transportation and Maintenance Director John Merry said he has never seen the bus drivers so “in tune with wanting to help.” He is short two van drivers and a bus driver, Merry said. “But we made schedule (Sept. 8), we didn’t lose anybody. And I was just really pleased (the drivers were) just jumping in and saying they would take a run or go pick up this kid.” Merry is also still short someone for 30 hours of cleaning a week at Wiscasset Middle High School. “So I’m still looking at what I can do to get those positions filled,” he said. “We’ll keep working at it.”
According to Wood – Wiscasset Elementary School’s acting principal – and WMHS Principal Charles Lomonte, students used their face masks without issue. “We had no challenges with masks, zero discipline problems, the students really rose to the occasion ... and our staff was remarkable,” he told the committee.
Athletic Director-Assistant WMHS Principal Warren Cossette said planning fall sports has been frustrating, due to the same obstacles sports programs around Maine have faced: multiple state-level entities having to make decisions; transportation, liability and other logistics and the risk to in-school learning if Wiscasset athletes were exposed to COVID-19 via another school. Wiscasset will not be partnering with Boothbay Region on cross country and probably not on soccer, either, he said.
“If anybody was infected from the contact list ... we could send both schools into a shutdown situation.” He told the committee he did not feel Wiscasset can prudently do interscholastic sports this fall. The high school sports plans were still being determined; middle school will do soccer skill-building and Cross Country Club, Cossette said in an email later.
In the meeting, he noted one upside to this fall sports season. For the past few years, skills and roster sizes have needed improving, he said. “Let’s face it ... And this is the opportunity to ... rebuild and be as strong as we possibly can, with a higher skill level” and then more students will be out practicing in summer and teaching others, he said.
The committee accepted with regret Assistant Special Education Director Christina Ferreira’s, WMHS science teacher Heather Sinclair’s and WES math coach Charles Leitzell’s resignations and sixth grade teacher Carolyn Orne’s retirement, and accepted the hirings of teachers Gillian Victor, middle school science; Sean Pfahler, high school science; Erica Davis, kindergarten; and Kirsten Perry, middle school English-language arts.
Wood said Wiscasset was lucky to have had Orne’s “dedication and commitment to her students” over her 12 years of service, as an educational technician, teacher and team leader.