OAKLAND — Messalonskee Middle School in Oakland will switch to fully remote learning this week after a person associated with the school tested positive for COVID-19.

In a letter sent Sunday to the Regional School Unit 18 community, which also announced a positive case associated with James H. Bean Elementary School in Sidney, Superintendent Carl Gartley wrote that 10 staff members at Messalonskee Middle School were in quarantine, prompting the immediate shift to remote learning for the week.

“With this number of staff being asked to quarantine combined with the number of subs available and everything else going on the week before Christmas, I had to shift MMS (Messalonskee Middle School) to fully remote for the entire week,” Gartley wrote.

RSU 18 serves about 2,500 students from Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney. Messalonskee Middle School serves all of the towns, except China.

The district has been operating under a hybrid teaching model, where about 85% of students attend school in person five days a week. The remaining students utilize fully remote learning.

There will be no classes Monday to allow staff members to prepare for the change and so technology and other materials can be distributed.

Messalonskee Middle School enrolls almost 500 students in grades six through eight. Students will go from remote learning this week to winter break because two teacher in-service days are scheduled next week, before the break begins.

Students are scheduled to return to school Monday, Jan. 4.

This is the second time an RSU 18 school has shifted to a fully remote week. Messalonskee High School students were sent home early Nov. 30 and attended classes remotely from the week after Thanksgiving through the following Monday.

“I am so proud that we have been able to keep some sort of normalcy for our students and staff in these strange times,” Gartley wrote. “Our educational plan for January remains the same as it has been all fall. We will do everything we can to safely keep our schools open for our students and staff.”

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