School committee reviews return to school 

BAR HARBOR — When the Bar Harbor School Committee met on Oct. 5discussions regarding the return to school and a variety of ongoing projects topped the agenda. 

The return to schoolwhether in person or virtualis going well, said Conners Emerson Principal Barbara Neilly. She reported on the formation of a number of co-curricular activities for sixth through eighth grade students now underway, as well as a variety of programs for students and teachers that focus on health and wellness. From virtual Zen tea to yoga, the school is working to support its staff while also trying to lessen the overall level of stress, she said. Professional development sessions were scheduled to begin later in the week. 

In her report to the school board, the principal spoke of the abundance of Personal Protective Equipment available at the school. She said all teachers and ed techs have been given a supply of PPE and that there were thousands of face masks, face shields, gloves and other supplies on hand. 

Another first-grade teacher is needed, explained Neilly, noting that there are now 30 students in the first grade, which, with just two teachers, poses a challenge to instruction and social distancing. Conners Emerson has added a number of new students this academic year, ranging from seasonal homeowners deciding to stay in Maine to people relocating because of the pandemic. She said the school also continues to advertise for a long-term substitute teacher but has not had any qualified applicants for the position. “Today we had three and a half teachers out,” said Neilly, adding that she expects teachers to call out if they are not feeling well. Having the same full-time sub in the school each day to fill in for teachers who are out will lessen the need to have more people than necessary in the school, she said. When asked how and when infirmed teachers are allowed back in the school, Neilly and Superintendent Marc Gousse said that those decisions would be made on an individual basis with input from the teacher’s primary care physician.  

The school also continues to work on a plan if learning has to again transition to an all-remote model. “The ability to transition seamlessly is important,” said school board chairman Kristi Losquadro, adding that school board members systemwide are continuing to refine the plan. There was a brief discussion about protocol on how to shut a building down in case an outbreak occurs in the school. 

In other business, the members considered bids to repair the membrane roof on the Connors Emerson building. The school received two bids and decided to accept an $18,250 bid from GR Roofing, while passing on a $28,500 bid from Roof Systems of Maine. The board also decided to wait to repave school grounds and discussed convening a special meeting to reconsider the $40 million school project that was shelved in March before plans made their way to the Town Council.   

Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.
Ninah Rein

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