LEWISTON — City schools will likely adopt a hybrid education model this fall, incorporating both virtual and in-person learning.

The plan, which will be voted on by the School Committee Aug. 10, proposes splitting students into four cohorts, each with different weekly schedules.

Cohorts A and B will attend classes in person two days of the week and learn remotely for the other three. Cohort A will go to school Monday and Tuesday, and Cohort B will attend classes in person Thursday and Friday. Students in the same family attending school will be assigned to the same cohort

Parents may also elect to enroll their children fully online in Cohort C.

A Lewiston School Department graphic shows various student groups’ schedules for in-person and online learning starting this fall Lewiston School Department graphic

Some students who have special circumstances or learning needs will attend classes in person four days each week as Cohort D. The students in this group will be determined by the school.

All students, regardless of their cohort, will attend classes remotely Wednesday, allowing the school district to thoroughly clean classrooms between groups.

Last week, the Maine Department of Education released a county-level, color-coded advisory system. All counties, including Androscoggin, were designated green, meaning schools may open for in-person instruction if they can meet state guidelines.

However, Assistant Superintendent Karin Paquette said the school district is unable to meet these guidelines due to the large number of students within the district, especially in consideration of transportation needs and classroom space.

She stressed that the ability of each district to meet the state guidelines supersedes the county color designation in determining the mode of education.

According to Paquette, the school district may move to become fully remote if Androscoggin County is designated red or if guidelines become more strict than the district can meet. The only way to offer full in-person education is for the guidelines to ease significantly or be removed completely, she said.

“Regardless of which color (Androscoggin County) is in, we are still obligated to meet the health and safety guidelines and the framework that has been put out by the state of Maine and the Maine CDC,” Paquette said. “In order for us to meet those guidelines, we are not able to bring all of our students back to our schools.”

While in school, students will be expected to wear masks at all times except for “safe ‘mask breaks,” according to the plan. Students will be expected to maintain 6 feet distance in common areas and will be separated by at least 3 feet in classrooms. Sanitizing stations will be available at numerous locations within each school.

The plan provides sample daily schedules for each level of education and cohort. Students attending classes in person will be dismissed after noon with lunch available to take home.

On remote days, students will have assignments to complete. Teachers will post four mini-lessons per week for students to complete remotely.

Paquette said this plan is the best option for the school district to offer in-person study, while also giving families the flexibility to elect all remote classes.

“Families need to make that decision for themselves and for their children, which is why we are working really hard to offer that option of complete remote, if they don’t feel like (in-person learning) is the safest thing for their child,” she said.

Families will be able to select their mode of education and share transportation preferences with the district by filling out a survey that will be sent in early August. Cohorts will be built based on this information, and families will not be able to change cohort until the end of an academic quarter or trimester, unless there is an extenuating circumstance.

Students learning in school will have access to the breakfast, lunch, fresh fruit and vegetable program and the after-school snack program. Students who are learning remotely will be able to pick up food from schools. Other pickup and delivery options may be available to students unable to go to the school.

In addition, the academic calendar will also be up for vote during the Aug. 10 meeting. This year, storm days will be remote learning days, meaning extra school days will not be added to the end of the calendar in June.

The list of school opening dates are:

Aug. 31: grades 1-7, 9

Sept. 1: grades 8, 10-12

Sept. 8: kindergarten and prekindergarten


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