AUBURN — St. Dominic Academy President Timothy Gallic is well aware of the sharp spike in COVID-19 cases across the nation, but he said St. Dom’s has taken the necessary safety precautions to resume in-school classes in September.

“We are planning on opening in a safe and consistent manner where students can learn and thrive,” Gallic said. “We are also taking steps to insure the needs of our students and staff are taken care of.

“The rise in cases requires us to take careful stock of the situation,” he said. “If cases rise in Maine, our plans still should work. We will have daily checks of health and will work with parents for self reporting each week so we can better track any cases that might appear, their extent and tailor our response to meet the need.”

Superintendent of Maine Catholic Schools Marianne Pelletier said in a letter dated June 22 that all their schools will resume a five-day schedule because, “Despite the outstanding efforts of our schools to carry out distance learning, we recognize that nothing can fully replace the value of relationships established in the classroom between students and teachers, and students and their classmates. We believe and recognize that learning and formation are at their best when occurring in a classroom.”

Gallic said a few parents have chosen to not have their children return to St. Dom’s.

“We have had a few parents express concern about enrollment, but so only a very few have preemptively stated they will not come back,” Gallic said. “Most of the parents, like us, are carefully monitoring the situation.”

Gallic added that students will be encouraged to wear masks at the junior high and high school, but St. Dom’s will not stagger their days.

“Our staff will start with face shields and keeping everyone as socially distant as possible,” Gallic said. “We are fortunate not to have to stagger days.

 “We are setting up one-direction travel in our halls,  and we have spaced lunch. We have moved to prepared and packaged meals, and allowed the use of the outside for recess as long as weather allows. Hand sanitation stations are being installed and our medical response is being increased. We are initiating a thorough disinfectant procedure that will sanitize our building continuously,” he said.

According to Pelletier’s letter, the Diocese of Portland schools will be following CDC guidelines including ordering additional cleaning supplies and having extra staff on hand.

Gallic said there are emergency plans in place should there be a COVID-19 outbreak at St. Dom’s.

“When we shut down the schools, the experts told us it was not to prevent us from getting COVID but to slow its spread,” Gallic said. “Should this happen and we have an outbreak, we will move to remote learning while we assess the situation and tailor our response effectively.

“Making sure students are healthy is our main goal. Each student will be evaluated as they enter the school, and if needed, they will be sent for testing,” he said.

“We believe our small class sizes, coupled with the support of our parents and the school community, will allow for the safe reopening of our buildings,” Pelletier said in the letter. “The capabilities of health officials and health care providers in Maine to test and track the virus have greatly improved, and health experts have a better understanding of how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

When students return this fall, they will also notice some staff changes at St. Dom’s.

Asked if the high school hired a new principal, Gallic said “I will be president of the school and will also be running the high school.”

J.P. Yorkey will be filling two positions at the school. “Mr. Yorkey will be the middle school principal and also function as the schools’ AD (athletic director),” Gallic said, replacing Dan Campbell. 

Other new hires include: College and academic adviser Jeff McAdams; high school social studies teacher Steve Shukie; high school/middle school French teacher Andrew Barnes, and student services administrator Trish Suckow.

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