JAY — The Regional School Unit 73 board of directors voted Thursday night to use a hybrid model for teaching following a lengthy discussion on reopening schools.

Joel Pike was the only director who voted against the plan.

“We’re still getting significant information about bus runs, etc.,” Pike said. “I feel a lot more details still need to be worked out. Some parents may have more questions now.”

The vote followed a Zoom videoconferencing meeting that at one point had almost 170 parents, directors, staff members and residents participating.

Last week, directors approved the reopening school plan but delayed a decision on which model to use until after the public had a chance to learn more about the proposals.

Rob Taylor and Cherie Parker gave a presentation Thursday night on the district’s return-to-school plan, which is available on the district’s website — rsu73.org.

Taylor shared information on the guidelines and protocols put forth by the Maine Department of Education and Center for Disease Control & Prevention that the district must follow.

“Our schools are very full,” Taylor said. “We don’t have a lot of space. We’ll need to run a model with half of our kids. We feel fortunate we can offer that.”

Students would be broken into two groups, or cohorts: Cohort A on Monday and Tuesday would have full, in-person instruction, while Cohort B would learn remotely on those days. The cohorts would switch on Wednesday and Thursday.

There would be no new learning on Fridays, unless students could not attend earlier in the week.

Hybrid Model B, for one-fourth of the school population, would have had four cohorts, with one day of in-person instruction weekly.

Students who attend the life skills program and behavioral program would attend Monday through Thursday in either model.

Students would be broken up by last name, with Cohort A likely being for those A through J, and Cohort B for K through Z, according to Superintendent Scott Albert.

Efforts will be made to keep family members with different last names in the same cohort, he said.

“There will be two bus runs, with one student per seat and with family members sitting together,” Taylor said. “We will double the bus runs to transport half the kids.”

Another change calls for each student to have a designated pickup and drop-off location.

Directors also unanimously agreed to:

• Make Sept. 8 the first day of school.

• Change late-arrival days to Friday to give teachers time for training.

• Eliminate the early release Sept. 23.

“We didn’t waive any student days. There are still 175 student days,” Albert said. “The time Friday will give an opportunity for staff to work together, connect with students. Farmington Fair isn’t being held this year. We didn’t want to mess the students schedule up.”


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