All RSU 39 schools going green March 29

3 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — With Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ “Moving Maine Forward” plan announced in early March, all RSU 39 (Caribou and Stockholm) schools will now be able to go green, meaning all students are able to attend.

RSU 39 Superintendent Tim Doak said the plan would increase capacity to 50 percent starting on Friday, March 26, and allow all students in the Caribou Community School to attend while still adhering to social distancing guidelines.

And while the Caribou Community School and other RSU 39 schools will be “green,” students and staff will still need to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Wednesday will remain a remote learning day to help teaching staff work with the students who have opted to learn remote-only, in addition to teaching face-to-face students from home.

Doak said that while they could start as early as Friday, the district opted to begin on Monday, March 29, for a smoother transition.

“I’m happy for the parents, and I’m glad we get to bring the kids back into school,” Doak said. “It’s been a long and arduous year for middle school parents at the Caribou Community School. We had construction delays, and when we were able to get back to school, the governor changed the capacity sizes, so it’s been a long time. I thank parents and students for their patience, and our teachers have been working extremely hard. I think this is a good way to end the year if we can hold out and don’t have to go back to the yellow model.”

The yellow model involves one group of students attending classes on Monday and Tuesday, remote learning for all on Wednesday, and the other half attending on Thursday and Friday.

About 170 students altogether, or approximately 85 each in the Caribou Community School and Caribou High School, are exclusively learning remotely. Doak said a few have decided to come back as each building formerly had around 90 students each opting for remote learning.

Throughout the 2020-21 school year, he said RSU 39 schools have had minimal cases and quarantines.

“Knock on wood, it’s been great,” said Doak. “We feel the schools are very safe. It is possible to have an outbreak in a school, but the safety measures put in place have been working.”

He said the last time the school had to shut down due to the pandemic was just before Christmas break.

“We had an issue where a local organization might have been linked to a spread of cases, but nobody came back positive. It was more of a precaution. From Christmas break onward though, we have not missed school.”

RSU 39 is looking at government funding to help establish transformational programs during the summer and vacations to help meet the needs of students and teachers, Doak said. Yet at the same time, he hopes declining cases and the recent shift to the green model help establish some normalcy.

The schools will reopen to the public eventually, allowing guests to enter the building provided they follow safety protocols, he said. 

“We’re a year and two weeks into the pandemic, and I think people are starting to feel it,”  he said. “We’re all starting to feel it — teachers, administrators, parents, and students. It’s been a tough year and as much as we need to look for transformation, we need to look at normalcy too. That’s why opening back up could be a big thing for the community.”