BAR HARBOR — “Given the sudden and significant rise in positive cases of COVID-19 in our region, the immediate shift to remote learning for all (Mount Desert Island Regional School System) schools is necessary to support the health, safety and well-being of our students, staff and communities,” Superintendent Marc Gousse said in an email to school personnel Saturday.
Mount Desert Island Hospital’s COVID-19 testing program found 17 new cases of the disease between Dec. 29 and Jan. 3.
Since the start of the school year in September, the schools have been offering a combination of in-person and virtual classes. The switch to all-remote learning, which went into effect Monday, is to last at least through Friday, Jan. 15.
“Given the potential impact of holiday travel, gatherings and community events in our area, it is essential we implement this transition immediately to mitigate further exposure and community spread of COVID-19,” Gousse said.
“During this period of remote instruction, all activities and athletics are suspended until further notice and all school buildings remain closed to students, family or visitors.
“We will continue to assess [the situation] daily and provide updates and information as to when we may resume hybrid/in-person school-based operations.
“It is very important everyone remain vigilant, avoid gathering in groups, limit travel, monitor for symptoms, wear masks, practice good hygiene and maintain physical distancing,” Gousse said.
The Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention reported that, as of Wednesday, 600 cases of COVID-19 had been detected in Hancock County since the start of the pandemic last spring. Cumberland County continued to lead the state with 7,970 total cases. Piscataquis County had seen the fewest with 130.
Letter from Superintendent Marc Gousse
Dear families, friends and neighbors,
As you know, MDIRSS schools have transitioned to remote learning. The rising numbers of positive COVID-19 cases locally means that there were also many close contacts of people who now have to quarantine, including families and staff members. And, we do not yet know the impact of holiday travel and gatherings. This makes it incredibly challenging for our schools to support in-person learning.
We have had only a handful of positive COVID-19 cases reported in individuals associated with our schools. In each instance, the risk mitigation strategies we have in place have worked. MDIRSS teachers have adapted and adjusted their teaching and learning to accommodate the safety protocols we have all instituted to keep each other safe. MDIRSS students have worked hard to take good care of themselves and their classmates. To date, we have had no transmission of COVID-19 in our schools.
We know that remote learning is hard on students and families. We will continue to work to ensure continuity of learning during the next two weeks. We also know that being in school in person is the best option for almost all students and we look forward to returning to in-person learning as soon as we determine it is safe to do so.
Here is where we need your help. We need the whole community to rally around the cause of doing what it takes to ensure contagion does not spread.
During the next two weeks when we are teaching and learning remotely, we ask everyone in our community to join us and take the MDI Pledge:
- Adhere to travel guidelines – avoid unnecessary travel
- Wear a mask
- Wash your hands frequently
- Maintain physical distancing
- Avoid social/group gatherings
- Monitor for symptoms – stay home if you are ill
All of us do our very best to use these safety strategies in all MDIRSS schools. We ask everyone in our communities to join together and do the right thing so that we can get back to school in person.
Thank you for being careful and safety conscious. Please keep in mind that what you do or do not do matters. Take care and stay safe.
Marc Edward Gousse, Ed.D.
MDIRSS AOS # 91 Superintendent of Schools