Reopening Plans Update 1 – June 6, 2020
I will be providing periodic updates on our Planning Committee’s efforts regarding the creation of a reopening plan to present to the School Committee in July for their approval.
The Planning Committee includes the following individuals:
|Planning Committee||June 2020|
|Kathy Harris-Smedberg||Assistant Superintendent|
|Jerry Hayman||Director of Business, Food Service, Maintenance, and Transportation|
|Patti Rapaport||Special Education|
|Paul Butler||Administrator Bangor High School|
|Ed Hackett||Administrator JFDS – Gr. 6-8 Level|
|Ryan Enman||Administrator Fairmount – Elementary|
|Richard Fournier||Administrator Fruit – Elementary|
|Christy Babin||Bangor Regional Program|
|Cynthia Fish||BEA – Teachers|
|Heather Bendure||BEA – Teachers|
|Stephanie Hendrix||BEA – Teachers|
|Kimberly McNutt||BEA – Educational Technicians|
|Christopher Whitney||BEA – Support Staff|
|Laurie Mitchell||Secretaries – Minutes|
|Warren Caruso||School Committee Member|
|Marlene Susi||School Committee Member|
|Carin Sychterz||School Committee Member Alternate|
|Carrie Smith||Parent – ESSA|
|Annie Grant||Parent – ESSA|
|Sarah Quirk||Parent – ESSA|
|Katrina Rutherford||Parent – ESSA|
|Marci Parizo||Parent – ESSA|
|Brandon Bond||Parent – ESSA|
|Amy St. Peter||Parent – ESSA|
|Suzette Johnston||Parent – ESSA|
|Travis Noyes||Parent – BHS Level|
|Christine Lally-Kendall||Parent – BHS Level|
The priority for our plan is to reopen in the fall with in-person instruction, which will need to meet the guidelines from the Maine CDC and the Maine Department of Education (MDOE). As educators and parents, we believe in-person instruction is the optimal situation for students PreK-12.
Although we all wish to return to our normal procedures and routines, we know we have to learn to operate within the reality of COVID-19 until a vaccination has been developed and administered. Therefore, we are working on a plan that prioritizes safety and is realistic, sustainable, and affordable.
Assessment of Risk:
There is risk in all that we do in life. Although there are varying reports and opinions regarding the level of risk for students and staff, the Planning Committee has followed the required CDC guidelines to reduce the risk. We know we cannot guarantee there will not be a COVID-19 case(s) in our schools. Protocols will be put in place in the event of a case(s) for communication, safety, sanitation, closure, and reopening of schools. We also know there are students and staff with higher risk of catching COVID-19 and plans will be in place for accommodations.
Unfortunately, to date, schools do not have the guidance from the Maine CDC or the MDOE for the reopening in the fall. Commissioner of Education Pender Makin shared this week with area superintendents the guidance will not be available until August and will be determined county by county in a similar fashion to the reopening of businesses.
We have decided we cannot wait until August to determine and prepare for the details of reopening and are moving forward with a draft plan based on the U.S. CDC guidance for schools and the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) Guidance for Summer Programming. We will present the plan to the School Committee in July and will adjust the plan as needed to meet Maine guidelines as soon as they are available.
The guidance we are using at this time includes the following, as well as the CDC Decision Tree, which is attached.
CDC Considerations for Schools:
MDOE Priority Notice – Guidance for Summer Programming:
I will review the Committee’s thinking to date following the CDC Decision Tree.
- Will reopening be consistent with applicable state and local orders?
We are using the U.S. CDC guidance and the MDOE guidance for summer school while we wait for the applicable state and local orders.
- Is the school system ready to protect children and employees at higher risk for severe illness?
We plan to use the American Disability Act 504 process to develop plans for students in high-risk categories. This process includes a team to review each student’s individual case. Parents will provide medical documentation and the team will determine reasonable accommodations for the student. In severe cases, remote learning may be considered.
The School Department will follow all applicable employment laws and contractual agreements to determine reasonable accommodations and/or which leave benefits apply.
- Are you able to screen students and employees upon arrival for symptoms and history of exposure?
The Planning Committee is exploring the use of technology (Bangor app, Google form, Timeclock Plus, etc.) to have students or parents and employees answer and submit answers to screening questions before arriving on school grounds. Example questions from the MDOE summer school guidance include:
- Do I feel unwell today?
- Do I have a cough or sore throat?
- Do I have a fever or do I feel feverish?
- Do I or have I had shortness of breath?
- Do or have I had a loss of taste or smell?
- Do or have I been around anyone exhibiting these symptoms within the past 14 days?
- Do or have I been living with anyone who is sick or quarantined?
- Have I been out of state in the last 14 days?
- Take temperature: is it 37.8 C/100 F or higher?
When arriving on school grounds, employees will be distanced and enter through a common entrance past thermal readers and those indicating a potentially higher body temperature will have their temperature taken by a forehead-reading thermometer. Several entrances will be used for students to pass through thermal readers and those indicating potentially elevated temperatures will have a forehead reading taken. Please note at this time, the MDOE summer school guidance calls for taking temperatures. If the guidance changes, adjustment would be made without the screening procedures for temperature readings.
- Promote hygiene such as hand washing and the use of face coverings
Frequent and regular hand washing will be scheduled for employees and students at least four times a day: upon arrival, before and after eating, and after use of bathroom facilities. The MDOE summer school guidance recommends prioritizing classrooms with bathrooms and sinks, which many of our elementary schools have. We plan to purchase hand-washing stations for those building areas without nearby bathroom access.
The MDOE summer school guidance recommends face coverings. The School Department is preparing for a bulk purchase with other school districts to purchase cloth facemasks for students and staff. Parents are encouraged to help prepare students for the wearing of facemasks, and we understand parents may want to provide their own masks for their children. A limited number of face shields will be purchased for those employees whose job requires a shield rather than a mask. Employees whose job does not require a shield may wear their own shield if desired. Washing machines and dryers will be purchased for schools for daily cleaning of facemasks.
The MDOE has shared the State is working on a bulk purchase of personal protection equipment (PPE) such as masks. However, first responders will be provided equipment before schools and they expect a four-month waiting period.
- Intensify cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation
The School Department is planning additional cleaning of high-touch surfaces and bathrooms throughout the day and a full cleaning each evening following the recommended disinfectants and procedures. Air handlers and ventilation are also being reviewed and prioritized.
- Encourage distancing through increased spacing, small groups, and limited mixing between groups, if feasible.
In order to meet the increased spacing, small groups, and limited mixing between groups during transportation and while at school, the Committee is reviewing a number of staggered schedules where half the student population is in school and the other half is participating in remote learning activities and then the two groups switch. Our goal is to have as many weekly in-person learning sessions as possible for all students.
- Train all employees on health and safety protocols
The Committee has discussed training for employees in August during the Teacher and Employee Academy days. Training will also be provided to students and parents.