TURNER — School officials in Maine’s School Administrative District 52 are seeking community input on their universal masking policy in light of recent changes to Department of Education quarantine policies.
At the school board meeting Thursday night, Superintendent Kimberly Brandt said the survey will be emailed to the school community on Friday.
She pointed out that the main benefit of universal masking is that all students and staff, regardless of their vaccination status or participation in group testing, can stay at school, unless they test positive for COVID. -19. Students who test positive must quarantine for five days under new DOE quarantine policies.
Students and staff at schools that do not practice universal masking should self-quarantine if in close contact. Students who participate in the district’s pooled COVID-19 testing program, were positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days, or are fully vaccinated (or received their booster, if 18 or older) would still be exempt quarantine.
“We know there’s been so much school education and family disruption related to quarantine,” Brandt said, adding that she’s heard parents’ concerns about healthy children needing to be put in quarantine.
According to Brandt, between 45% and 49% of students in the district are vaccinated and about 20% participate in the group testing program, which means that at least a third of students would have to be quarantined if they were identified as a contact. narrow.
Three parents spoke during the public comments to ask school officials to eliminate the universal masking policy.
“You school officials have been hired and elected to be leaders,” Greene’s Anthony Shostak said Thursday. “But instead of leadership, I see only a half-hearted willingness to follow orders and no doubt accept recommendations from unreliable sources, people who have squandered the public trust. We need people who know how and when to question orders that diminish the learning environment in our schools, violate parental authority, and psychologically torture our children. It’s time for this madness to stop.
Crystal Nicholas of Greene further compared the practice of masking to child abuse, and Jimmy Childs of Leeds asked the council to provide support for the effectiveness and safety of masking beyond expert opinion. .
The results of the survey will be presented to the school community at the next meeting on February 3.
Citing a desperate need for planning time, Brandt asked the board to approve a change to the school calendar that would increase the number of half days for students in the second semester.
A poll answered by 153 teachers and education technicians showed that more than 90% were in favor of Brandt’s proposal to change three full days to half days for students only and to make up the half day of December 22, which was a snowy day in May. instead of June.
The council finally approved that the half-days of March 30 and May 3 be reserved for students. Teachers and pedagogical technicians will use the time not devoted to teaching to catch up on work and prepare for future lessons. May 27 will become a half day for students and staff.
Another half-day for students only was proposed for February 3, but was canceled due to fears it would create problems for parents with only two weeks to plan.
The board unanimously approved receipt of a $30,000 grant from the Hanafin Foundation for additional renovations to the library at Turner Elementary School. Administrative Assistant Cassandra Roy was credited with writing the grant proposal.
“Some of the work has already been done, but we didn’t have enough funding to complete it,” said Deputy Superintendent Theresa Gillis. “I believe this game will bring us much closer together.”
In addition, Steven Bailey, executive director of the Maine School Management Association, briefed the board on his superintendent search services. Bailey said the association offers several services, for a fee, to help school boards, including creating the job posting, advertising the position and selecting the final candidate.
Brandt recently announced that she will be retiring at the end of the school year.
“I’ll tell you, you have an attractive superintendent’s seat here, partly because of the size of the neighborhood, the compactness of the neighborhood, and the offerings and programs you have here,” he said. , adding that the neighborhood’s proximity to urban areas will also be attractive.
MSAD 52 serves Turner, Greene and Leeds.
The board will decide at its February 3 meeting which, if any, of the nonprofit services they want to use.
Maine schools report spike in COVID-19 cases and outbreaks