LEWISTON — Students in the fall will have the choice of returning to campuses or continuing with remote instruction, according to Superintendent Todd Finn.

A third option under review would offer a combination of remote learning and school attendance, he said in an address to the community.

“I know the back-to-school season is weighing heavily on your minds,” Finn said. “My commitment to you is to keep you informed and connected to the planning of reopening schools as we consider the impact of COVID-19 on our young people, our families, our employees and the greater community.”

Families will choose which option they deem appropriate for their children, he said.

“I promise you the health and safety of students will not be a gamble,” Finn said. “As superintendent, I will not place anyone at risk.”

The return to schools would be under improved health and safety standards, in accordance with the Maine Department of Education guidelines. These include increased hygiene, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, social distancing and the option of wearing a mask.

The district is looking at additional health and safety protocols to address cafeteria and playground use and band and orchestra participation, Finn said.

He said he is “working diligently” with public health officials in Maine and keeping an eye on what other districts around the country are doing.

He also is following guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said.

He said the district will offer an “improved and well-planned” remote instruction program based on feedback from families this past spring. Remote learning began in mid-March when schools closed to limit the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Those who wish to continue with online instruction in the fall will be graded according to district policy, and will be required to follow attendance and engagement expectations.

Families can decide in August which option they want and can adjust that decision at any time, Finn said.

He said parents would receive a survey in late July “for planning purposes only. It will in no way commit you or your child.”

All Lewiston Public Schools employees also will receive a survey.

“As an employer, we are following the U.S. Department of Labor outlines for returning to work,” he said.

He said he would have more to share in mid-July about plans for the fall.

“We do not have all the answers now, but we are working hard to get you all the information we can,” he said.

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