BAR HARBOR — Students, teachers and everyone else in school buildings will be required to wear a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19 once classes start in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System on Thursday, Sept. 2.
All the schools in the district will return to in-person instruction for all students five days a week; there will be no remote or hybrid learning as there was last school year.
The school system board on Monday endorsed Superintendent Marc Gousse’s plan to impose the mask mandate, which also requires everyone over the age of 2 to wear a mask on school buses and vans. The wearing of masks outdoors on school grounds is optional.
Gousse said all students will be eligible to participate in “pool testing” for COVID-19.
“Any student or parent can opt out, but that will be a litmus test that will allow us to ascertain whether we have any transmission or community spread,” he said. “And if we have evidence to show that we are doing a good job, we may be in a position where we can lessen some of our masking restrictions. But, until we have that data and know where we are with this, everyone is going to be wearing masks in school.”
In keeping with CDC recommendations, the MDIRSS schools will try to maintain at least 3 feet of physical distancing, provided that does not prevent or limit in-person teaching and learning.
Also, Gousse said, “We are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated; there is no requirement at this time. I am told that vaccinations for 6-year-olds is on the doorstep, so that’s good news.”
Currently, people 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated.
“We continue to regularly monitor data and recommendations from the CDC, Maine Department of Education, Downeast COVID -19 Task Force and local medical experts in determining requirements necessary to ensure the continued health and safety of our students, staff and communities,” Gousse said.