Winslow Public Schools will continue using a hybrid model with alternating groups of students in school as the district continues to adapt during the coronavirus pandemic, the superintendent said Wednesday.

In a letter to the community, Superintendent Peter Thiboutot announced the district’s plans to continue in its current hybrid model “as long as the current safety recommendations and guidelines remain in effect” from the Maine Department of Education and Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

Winslow School Superintendent Peter Thiboutot Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

“Our number one priority is to provide a safe learning environment for our students and staff,” Thiboutot wrote. “We will provide you with monthly updates throughout the year. We will continue to assess and monitor our situation, alerting you to any changes as quickly as possible.”

The district started classes on Sept. 8, a week later than planned due to a shortage in personal protective equipment needed for the pandemic. Now, students are split into two cohorts, last names A-La and last names Le-Z and alternate attending in-person days. There is a third cohort made up of students learning entirely from home.

Winslow has about 1,100 students attending its schools.

The district held an in-service day last Friday, Sept. 18, to discuss how to move forward. It was initially thought the district may propose the board opt for fully in-person learning, but that is no longer the case.

All of Maine’s 16 counties, except for York County, are designated as “green” by the state and schools can offer fully in-person learning as long as they meet health and safety requirements. Few are offering fully in-person — Oakland-based Regional School Unit 18 is among them — while most are using some form of a hybrid plan.

“Until this situation is further clarified, Winslow Public Schools will choose the latter option based on the recommendation of our school physician consultant,” Thiboutot wrote of the hybrid model.

Thiboutot also announced a change for those returning from states not exempt from Maine’s current travel ban. The current plan requires a 14-day quarantine or a test upon return. The new recommendation is to wait three to five days to be tested upon returning or the 14 day quarantine.

The district calendar is updated through October on the district’s website.

“Applying and practicing the safety protocols of mask wearing, social distancing and the washing of hands must be encouraged beyond the walls of the school,” Thiboutot wrote.

“Now is not the time to take the foot off the accelerator when it comes to safety,” he continued. “If anything, we need to be more vigilant so that we keep our students in school and our community safe.”

 

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