Superintendent Pat Hopkins speaks to the school board Thursday via Zoom. Kennebec Journal screenshot

GARDINER — For the 270 students in the Maine State Administrative District 11, the first week of remote learning went “pretty smoothly” according to Angela Hardy.

Hardy is a teacher in cohort C, the fully remote cohort in MSAD 11.

She said to the district’s board of directors Thursday that 16.8% of students in cohort C are comprised of students from kindergarten to eighth grade, and 10.9% of high school students are learning remotely on a full-time basis.

MSAD 11’s students are split into three groups — those in cohort A or B rotate between in-person classes and remote learning.

“Anytime where there is something new, there are areas where we could improve,” Hardy said. “We have tried to be responsive and teachers have tried to create videos (to help parents) and we were able to release a number of them last night.”

Students in kindergarten through eighth grade are assigned to a remote-learning teacher, while high-schoolers tune in to a livesteam on Google Classroom, where their teacher will also be teaching students in either cohort A or B in-person at the school.


The school board approved three new fully remote teaching positions — one in second grade and two in middle school. The positions will be in place for the duration of remote learning and will be extended past Dec. 31 if needed, granted remote learning continues.

Stephanie Marx, a cohort C teacher, said most of the frustration from online learning is from parents of young students.

“I’ve had to give around four phone calls, and received around 15 to 20 while I was teaching my class,” she said. “Some parents are not comfortable with some parts of SeeSaw (an online learning platform), and some get ‘panicky’ if there isn’t a link up 15 minutes before meeting.”

Marx often delays putting the meeting link online, in case her students click the link before their parents are present or, in some cases, without them knowing.

Tiffany Cockrill, another teacher conducting online classes for younger students, said she sends around 50 emails per day and the online platforms have taken a lot of learning for everyone, not just parents.

Twelfth-grade math teacher Jennifer Boudreau said, for her, it has been hard livestreaming students, and making sure those online and in-person have the same amount of attention. 


“I’m adjusting,” she said. “It’s a little odd, but I’m getting there. I left today feeling a lot better.”

Another challenge Boudreau has faced is writing problems on the board for in-person students, and those livestreaming the class can have trouble hearing what she is saying behind her mask.

Attendance for her classes has also been hard, she said, adding she ends up waiting for students to log on for five or so minutes before taking attendance. Boudreau thinks that it may be “easier” to lose track of time while at home.

Across the cohorts and district, however, Hardy’s presentation indicated attendance has been “quite high.”

Quinton Martin, a student representative for the high school to the board, said he has only seen students not following the rules “a handful of times,” and joked that it’s been hard for him.

“The hardest part for me is that I’m a hugger,” he said. “It’s hard to be a hugger when you have to follow the rules. But overall, everyone is doing well. I think it’s hard to complain, because we are all happy to be back in the building.”


Gabe Dostie, the district’s transportation director, said sometimes kids seem to forget to wear their masks on the buses, but feels confident it’s something they will get used to with time.

“There have been a couple of mask issues, but it’s not surprising,” he said. “It’s sometimes hard for the younger students to remember they are on MSAD property and not at home yet.”

As of now, Dostie said, the buses are not overloaded with students. Per Maine DOE guidelines, 23 students are able to ride a bus, and the bus has to be disinfected between each run.

Dostie predicted more students may opt for district-provided transportation in the next couple of weeks as parents’ schedules change or become more comfortable with allowing their children on the bus. In the event that happens, he said, there are a couple of buses currently not being used that could be to ensure appropriate distancing, but there may not be enough drivers.

As for students in MSAD 11 that rely on the school meals, 2,179 breakfasts and 1,599 lunches have been served to remote learners at the high school in the past week. In person at school, according to Gardiner Area High School Assistant Principal Jarrod Dumas, 1,988 meals have been served.

With the renewal of the Free Meals program until Dec. 31 and students that are learning remotely, the lunch staff has to prepare five days worth of meals each day. Those learning remotely pick up five meals, either on Thursday or Friday afternoon.

“The remote learners pick up their meals before or after the buses in the morning to avoid congestion,” Dumas said. “There has been a good job done in preparing the meals, and we haven’t had an issue with keeping up with the meals thus far.”

Moving forward, the district is focusing on the safe return to hosting fall sports for high school and middle school.

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