I would like to describe my experiences in engaging with the Augusta school board, Superintendent James Anastasio and Mayor David Rollins as it relates to advocating for more in-person learning in Augusta schools (“Augusta school board opts to keep hybrid-learning model for rest of the school year,” April 8).

I wrote frequently with varying levels of emotion to the appropriate people in my ward and to officials involved with making decisions for schooling in our town. In most circumstances, I have been treated with kindness, which is appreciated. I believe that the pandemic is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. I had hopes for more in-person learning this school year. Here are my thoughts:

No. 1: Tell your school board member what your experiences are. The board and superintendent do not seem to know that families have paid tutors, enrolled students in study groups run by ASD employees, or enrolled their children in parochial schools that are operating five days a week. These stories are important! Share them! The only way to make change is to let people know that you are not OK with how things are.

No. 2: I think this experience of the pandemic has shown that Augusta schools are not ready for this event. I don’t blame the district. Who could have guessed 14 months ago that we would need to prepare for such things?

But now we know, pandemics can happen. In Augusta schools, we cannot overcome the distancing requirement to return to full in-person learning. That is going to require an investment from our town. If the decisions to close Hodgkins and Buker had played out differently, we might have had the volume of space to spread students out and receive more in-person instruction. I would encourage the district to consider a middle school to help meet this requirement.

Jon Martin


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