Kristin Beaulieu, a kindergarten teacher at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston, organizes her classroom Tuesday morning. Beaulieu was on maternity leave when the school shut down in March. She returned to her classroom earlier this summer to pack everything into boxes as the school was undertaking a deep-cleaning program. Teachers throughout the city are getting back into their classrooms and trying to organize in ways that meet new health and safety guidelines, before students return to school. “I actually took some string and measured between desks to make sure we had the proper distance between tables,” Beaulieu said. “It’s going to be a challenge, for sure, but we will manage, like always.” Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — The Lewiston School Committee voted 5-4 Monday night to offer students a hybrid model that allows them to return to school in person for two days a week and utilize remote studies for the other three days.

The vote came several hours into a meeting that saw teachers, parents and students from Lewiston sharing their opinions on whether or not to approve the hybrid model.

The hybrid plan proposed splitting students into four cohorts, each with different weekly schedules.

Cohorts A and B would attend classes in person two days of the week, and study remotely for the other three.

Cohort A would go to school in person Monday and Tuesday, and Cohort B Thursday and Friday.

Students in the same family attending school would be assigned to the same cohort.

Parents would have been able to elect to enroll their children fully online in Cohort C.

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

Earlier in the meeting, the committee voted 6-3 against adopting a hybrid model that would have allowed students to return to school in person for two days a week and utilize remote studies the other three days.

However, several hours later, after the committee had postponed the start of school to Sept. 14, committee member Ryan Donovan made a motion for students to enter school under the hybrid model, with the understanding that the committee would reevaluate every two weeks to ensure the safety of students.

Megan Parks,chairwoman of the Lewiston School Committee, said that “a majority of the teachers and parents in this room want the hybrid model.”

“We’re not in these seats to say, ‘This is what I think is best,’” Parks said. “We’re here to do what our constituents want, and sitting here pig-headed saying, ‘I don’t want to vote this way, and I don’t care what information you give me’ isn’t going to help anyone.”

Committee member Alison Rea said that she would not vote in favor of starting the hybrid model on Sept. 14 because she “could not live with myself if someone got seriously ill.”

“That could be seen as pig-headed or not respecting constituents, but they did put us in these seats and I’m sticking by my vote,” Rea said to Parks.

Committee member Kiernan Majerus-Collins agreed with Rea, adding, “I find it inappropriate that the chairwoman would make comments to that effect.”

Prior to the vote, interim Superintendent Jake Langlais said that in a poll sent out to the families of all Lewiston students asking whether they were in favor of returning to school to learn or learning remotely, 76 percent of the families who responded said they wanted their children to return to school, while 24 percent said they wanted their children to learn remotely.

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