In line with many schools decisions on Thursday, more central Maine school officials issued statements Friday saying that school buildings will remain closed for the rest of this year’s academic calendar.

Cornelia Brown, superintendent of Winthrop Schools, said Friday she would recommend to the Winthrop School Committee that in-person instruction be discontinued for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year and that June 5 be the last student day.” She said she is planning “professional development” for staff from June 8 to June 12.

Also Friday, RSU 2 Superintendent Mary Paine said the Hallowell-area schools “will be following the recommendation to continue with distance learning for the remainder of the year.” She said an official announcement hasn’t gone to parents and staff due to “power and internet outages in the area.” She said she would officially announce her plans Saturday.

RSU 12 Superintendent Howard Tuttle said Friday a decision will likely be made “next Thursday at the school board’s next meeting.”

“The RSU 12 Board of Directors will consider and make decisions around the commissioner’s recommendation to plan to replace classroom instruction with remote/distance learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year,” he said. “RSU 12 educators are currently replacing classroom instruction with remote/distance learning.”

Tina Meserve, superintendent of the Mt. Blue Regional School District, said the school buildings would not reopen for class and remote learning would continue. She said some of her teachers are beginning to hit their stride with remote teaching.

“People are looking around for resources that count as learning experience but help us get kids excited about learning,” she said. “We’re not in the same tight blocks of time and we can spend a little time exploring.”

On Friday, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 586 cases of coronavirus and 17 deaths from the virus.

Following a recommendation issued Tuesday by Pender Makin, Maine’s commissioner of education, to suspend in-person group instruction for the remainder of the school year, central Maine school superintendents started announcing their plans Wednesday. The Kennebec Journal reported Thursday that a number of schools decided to move to fully remote learning for the rest of the year.

Makin said her decision was based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention that recommends avoiding large-group and in-person instruction for eight to 20 weeks. Her recommendation was supported by Gov. Janet Mills, who had previously ordered schools remain closed through May 1 to help slow the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus.

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