AUBURN — The school district’s re-entry plan will “very likely” include both in-person and remote instruction, according to Assistant Superintendent Michelle McClellan.

She told the School Committee on Wednesday night that in-person is the goal.

“We believe that is best for our students,” McClellan said.

McClellan heads a committee made up several groups tasked with coming up with a school re-entry plan by July 22. Schools have been closed since mid-March to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

A survey of 1,008 school district families showed only 10% of parents of high school students were “very interested” in continuing remote instruction in the fall. For the middle school, it was 8%, and for elementary pupils, 9%.

The majority at all three levels was interested in a blend of classroom and online instruction, with the high school at 49%, the middle school at 50% and elementary schools at 42%.


A goal of the re-entry committee is to maximize in-person instruction, physical health and safety, and social/emotional, behavioral and mental health services.

The second goal is to minimize inequity in access to instruction and the impact on families.

“These goals are underpinning and guiding” the reopening plan, McClellan said.

She said the most obvious way to minimize inequity and impact on families would be through in-person student and teacher interaction.

What needs to be worked out by July 22 is a daunting task: How to arrange classrooms and buildings so children are social distancing at 6 feet apart, how to socially distance children on buses and how to find space for all children when the likely capacity of a classroom will be 10 to 12 students.

School Committee Chairwoman Karen Mathieu suggested asking the city for help in using empty buildings such as the former police station.


Another challenge will be to create a plan in the face of not knowing what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in the fall. The district will need a remote learning plan in place in case schools are closed again.

Committee member Faith Fontaine wondered what the role of the state would be in determining reopening plans.

“Are the (Maine Department of Education) guidelines recommendations or mandates?” she asked. “I’ve had people say to me that the state will decide what we do.”

McClellan said the DOE guidelines are “somewhere between” recommendations and mandates.

“It has been reported that the state will make the decision, but we’re hearing from the commissioner that the state will provide information to local districts and local will make the decision about opening,” McClellan said.

The Auburn School District will hold forums to get input from parents and community members in the next 12 days, according to the re-entry committee’s agenda.

Anyone interested in serving on the re-entry committee is welcome, McClellan said.

A “structure and schedule” plan will be presented to the School Committee for a vote July 22.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: