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Most Brewer students this fall will return to school in person two days a week and continue learning remotely the other three days.
Students will be divided into two groups, and each group will attend in person two days, with all state-prescribed safety protocols — such as masks and social distancing — in place under the plan Brewer Superintendent Gregg Palmer presented to the city’s school committee Monday evening.
One group will attend school Monday and Thursday, and the other group will attend Tuesday and Friday. Everyone will learn remotely on Wednesday, which will be set aside for deep cleaning school facilities, Palmer said.
Brewer will also make accommodations for students who need to learn entirely online this semester. The district is working on providing live access to classrooms so students at home can virtually attend class at the same time as in-person learners.
“Right now with the conditions being what they are, we can do a good job of trying to maintain that hybrid position for a period of time, even if we have a few setbacks ” Palmer said. “Hopefully we can get this right and then we can move toward a full reopening once we know we’ve established safe conditions and we have been able to maintain that for at least some period of time,”
Brewer, like many school districts in Maine, made three different plans for reopening: a full return to school, a partial return and a fully remote semester.
Districts were waiting for the state to release county-level health classifications to help them assess the risk of COVID-19 spreading locally before they chose a reopening model. On Friday, the state released that classification system, and gave all Maine schools a green light to fully reopen for in-person instruction. State officials will revisit those county designations every two weeks.
“What this really says is that Maine counties have a low incidence of the virus, so we have reopening plans that can start to take shape in the light of that information.” Palmer said Friday.
On Monday, the school committee approved all three plans administrators have laid out, with the understanding that the department would need to switch between them depending on the COVID-19 situation and state guidelines.
Everyone attending Brewer schools, including pre-K students, will be required to wear face coverings, Palmer said, although state rules only require students above the age of four to wear them.
Brewer High School Principal Brent Slowikowski said that students will follow a semester pattern for their classes, taking a set of courses in fall and another set in the spring.
At Brewer Community School, students will be divided into small groups, with no more than 10 students in each group.
“With a few exceptions these groups will spend most of their time together on their assigned school days,” said K-4 Principal Allison Kahkonen.