A family walks toward the entrance to the Mount View school complex in Thorndike that houses Mount View Elementary, Mount View Middle and Mount View High Schools. Regional School Unit 3 has announced plans to have it’s twice-a-week in-person cohorts start to attend in-person fours days each week beginning March 15. Morning Sentinel file photo

Unity-based Regional School Unit 3 students in grades K-12 should begin to see double the in-person learning beginning March 15.

The district and its return-to-school committee announced Monday that students who are currently in the twice per week in-person learning cohorts are scheduled to begin four-day per week in-person learning, RSU 3 Superintendent Charles Brown wrote in a letter to the community. There will still be a fully remote option. Fridays will continue to be a distance learning day.

“I think the biggest thing is we want our kids back in school,” Brown said in a phone interview Tuesday. “That’s the No. 1 driving force.”

The district’s return to school committee made the decision based on district survey results and data from state health and educational agencies.

RSU 3 twice delayed the increased in-person reopening. In October, the district opted to keep with the Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday cohorts after Waldo County changed from “yellow” to “green” status in the Maine Department of Education’s color coded county risk level.

The district then postponed the increased in person learning in January, citing the state’s increased coronavirus case load. The impact of the virus is lessening now with decreasing rates of reported positive cases and exposures.

“We’re challenged with getting kids back in school, but also doing what is right to protect the entire health and well-being of our school community,” Brown said.

RSU 3 is one of a few districts that have never had to go fully remote for a week or more due to positive cases.

RSU 3 has eight schools serving students from the towns of Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo.

“We’re hopeful that this will continue to improve, that we can increase our in-person instruction,” Brown said, “and by next fall be back to some level of normalcy.”

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