The Star-Herald

Fort Fairfield school board completes restructure during January meeting

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — The Fort Fairfield School Board discussed updates on COVID-19 and approved the annual role assignments on the board during its meeting on Jan. 11.

The board positions filled were board chairperson, vice chairperson, District Wellness Committee member and Regional Technology Center representative. Board members could vote to either keep members in current roles or assign them to new ones.

Amanda McLaughlin will remain board chairperson for the coming year, and Christina Theriault will continue as vice chairperson.

Chalice White was chosen for the District Wellness Committee, which is responsible for promoting healthy lifestyles for their workers. 

“It’s not just about physical fitness,” Doak said. “It’s about a healthy environment, mentally, sanitation wise, and little things like that, that need to be fixed.”

Christina Theriault will be the Regional Technology Center representative, who participates in signing off on guideline changes the committee proposes, as well as being on a team with various other community members, providing information on commercial drivers licenses, food service, criminal justice and other topics.

School district business manager Kathi Kilcollins told the board the district’s second round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds totaling $809,640 was used on major district projects, such as pavement work for the middle school and remodeling the north entrance of the middle/high school. 

While several jobs have already been completed, the last of the funds should be used for projects by the end of summer. 

The state has stopped asking for staff vaccination rates from the district, which is no longer required to report them, Doak said. 

There have been updates to how the district will handle vaccinations and testing via OSHA guidelines for employees. If a person is not vaccinated, and there are more than 100 employees in an organization, then masking and weekly tests are required for unvaccinated people. If a staff member refuses to get the vaccine or to participate in testing, they could be fired. 

These guidelines will have to be accepted by the state Board of Occupational Safety and Health. On Jan.18, the board will hold a special meeting to consider adopting a work rule replicating the new OSHA vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard. BOSH is expected to adopt the emergency rule. 

Updates have also been made to the standard operating procedures concerning isolation and quarantine periods. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will have to quarantine for at least five days, and may return in a mask once their symptoms show signs of improvement or are gone. 

Testing guidelines have also been updated. PCR confirmation of a positive rapid test is not required if the rapid test was done on a person of a known exposure. Schools can also choose to accept at-home test results. 

Exposures that take place outside or on the school bus are no longer considered close contacts. There are also more exceptions for close contact people. If someone has all of their vaccinations, including a booster, they don’t need to quarantine. 

Teens who are 16-17 years old who have two vaccinations and can get the booster, also do not have to quarantine. This also goes for fully vaccinated younger students who are unable to get the booster. Close contacts who have gotten their second vaccine within five months do not have to quarantine. Finally, an exception occurs if someone has tested positive in the last 90 days.

Fort Fairfield schools have mandatory masking, which also means that if a student is a close contact, they can still come into school. But if that student shows any signs of symptoms, they are sent home and have to quarantine.

The Fort Fairfield RoboTigers (the school’s robotics program) announced to the board that the team has won the robot design award and scored 220 points during their robotics missions in December 2021. 

The team programmed the robot to accomplish certain tasks that would score them points in the virtual competition. The robot was able to follow certain lines, while also able to push, pull and grab small objects.

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