FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors on Tuesday reviewed a plan to prepare for partial and full distance learning scenarios for the 2020-21 school year.

The plan includes designated committees to collect data regarding students’ access to technology and to assess staff needs for remote learning. The committees will also gather feedback on how families have handled remote learning since March 16 school closures due to COVID-19. 

“I want to make sure we’re having a holistic approach to this, and I want to make sure each committee though they might have a main purpose, are working together for a district vision,” Curriculum Coordinator Laura Columbia said while presenting the plan via Zoom.

The committee will work on promoting student engagement accessibility and accountability. This is in response to the district’s struggle to maintain student motivation during remote learning.

The district and state level committees will address student and staff health and safety to prepare for the scenario in which students would attend schools. Various models will be explored such as a rotation of days in which only half of the student body would attend classes on certain days.

Access to the internet continues to be a pressing issue. RSU 9 has received hot spots from the state to be distributed to students on an as-needed basis. However, the district will need additional support to ensure all of its students have internet for the upcoming school year.

“There does have to be a balance as to how we are providing education to our children across the board,” Superintendent Tina Meserve said. “I believe there will be an effort for continued support for internet access and also technology at the state level.”

By July 31, the district plans to have all of its data collected and analyzed and to have presented to the board proposed plans for the various learning scenarios.

RSU 9 Food Service Director Andrew Hutchins also presented information to the board regarding the district’s summer food program. With the help of several grants and private donations, the district will continue offering free breakfast and lunch at four pickup sites until Aug. 7.

“A couple of great things about us being able to do these summer meals is obviously we can get these meals out to children who might not otherwise get a nutritious meal during the summertime,” Hutchins said. “And it keeps people working who really count on that summer employment.”

Hutchins anticipates serving at least 26,000 meals over the course of the summer, compared to the 75,000 served since the districtwide shutdown in March.

Staff members of the Pathways for All Learners (PAL) provided student success stories, which the board noted as a positive testimony considering the program is still understaffed. PAL provides 76 students throughout the district with a transitional learning environment that cultivates behavioral and emotional tools.


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