BAR HARBOR — No decisions have been made yet about whether or not to reopen schools for in-person instruction this fall, Superintendent Marc Gousse announced in a Zoom meeting with town officials Tuesday evening. Gousse said that the school board would make a final recommendation at an Aug. 10 meeting.
The AOS 91 School Board will meet in person on Aug. 6 and Aug. 10 at 5:30 p.m. both days. The Aug. 6 meeting will be a workshop with administrators to draft recommendations. At the Aug.10 meeting, the school board will take action to vote on approving the recommendations.
Both meetings will be in the high school auditorium with masks and social distancing, though the 50–person limit will restrict public attendance. The public can view the meeting on YouTube, according to Gousse.
Gousse said that school district administrators are working with teachers and a “safe return to school advisory task force” that has been meeting regularly. Surveys have gone out to families and teachers, Gousse said, and that feedback will be taken into consideration.
Gousse stressed that no decisions have been made yet. “Unfortunately, misinformation on social media regarding the 2020-2021 school year is leading to speculation, confusion and frustration,” Gousse wrote in an email to parents.
Gousse said in Tuesday’s Zoom meeting that options being considered are a return to in-person instruction, continuation of remote learning or a hybrid of the two.
“Online learning is something we need to get better at,” acknowledged Gousse at Tuesday’s meeting. “We know we need to reflect on what went well and what could go better.”
About the possible return to school or hybrid model, Gousse said, “I don’t want anybody to think that student and staff safety is not our top concern. We need to minimize risk.” He said that in the case of a return to in-person instruction, universal mask wearing will be mandatory for students and staff, per state guidelines. Gousse also said that The Jackson Laboratory has offered COVID-19 testing for school staff.
“This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon,” Gousse said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We all need to recognize that this is not a typical year.”
The Zoom meeting held on Tuesday was an update on the town of Bar Harbor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Town Resource Officer Nina St. Germain hosted the meeting, which had representatives from the school system, MDI Hospital, Healthy Acadia and Acadia National Park in attendance.