Ready for School?

A back to school season unlike any other

With the beginning of the school year quickly approaching in Knox County, many parents and families are keeping a close eye on how schools are planning to reopen their doors. The Return to School framework designed by the Maine Department of Education provides schools with tools, guidelines, and some requirements so that each school system can include sound medical and educational advice in their reopening plans, while considering the unique needs of the communities they serve. With all 16 of Maine’s counties currently color coded “green,” which allows the greatest number of possibilities for reopening, schools across the state are coming up with individualized and innovative plans to get our kids learning again this fall.

Locally, several school districts have announced their plans. Five Town CSD plans to move forward with in-person instruction for all grade levels, with the option for some older students to work remotely if they would prefer. RSU 13 is prioritizing bringing back elementary school students full time, with a hybrid model for grades six through 12 that has students doing some work in person and some work at home. The third major school system in our community, MSAD 40, has not yet announced its final plan, but has released a detailed draft that explains the considerations they’re taking into account. No matter what Plan A is, all schools have prepared for other scenarios should the virus worsen in Knox County.

When COVID-19 abruptly shifted school from in-person to remote learning this spring, teachers and school administrators had to quickly switch to a new type of teaching. But as RSU 13 notes in their reopening plan, with lessons learned from the spring under their belts, students and teachers are more prepared than ever for remote learning. Teachers have had time to familiarize themselves with technology and learn how to manage a classroom where students are at home in different environments. We all know that a reliable internet connection or an internet-capable device isn’t something everyone has, and that’s why Five Town CSD is providing devices and internet hotspots for students who need it. If you or your child has specific needs as the school year starts up, be sure to be get in touch with your school to see what additional resources they are providing this year.

The reopening plans released by schools prioritize getting younger children back in school full-time, which makes sense as parents look to return to work and may not be home to supervise them. However, some families may not feel comfortable sending their children back to school, even if it’s available as an option. If you need help with child care, this website can be helpful in finding licensed providers near you:

Over the past few months, we’ve had more time to learn about the virus and the ways we can keep each other safe. As we send our kids back to school this fall, we must remember to continue acting responsibly as a way to thank our school staff and teachers for the hard work they do every day. Abide by the safety guidelines your school puts in place and by the best practices we’ve all come to know, and keep your child home from school if they’re feeling sick. If you have the time and energy, consider reaching out to your local school and seeing if you can help volunteer any of your time or resources to make the transition back into school as smooth as possible, for students, families and staff. Our teachers deserve appreciation and respect every day, but they deserve it now more than ever

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