TURNER — Superintendent Kimberly Brandt on Thursday told the Maine School Administrative District 52 board of directors what is planned for the next week while the district’s schools remain closed.

“Cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning,” Brandt said.

Four confirmed cases of COVID-19 at three Turner schools over the past week have forced the closure of all town schools for a week. Additionally, Brandt told the board, more probable cases have emerged at the schools, which could mean a longer period of closure.

“That’s not the trend I was looking for,” Brandt said.

Before the positive cases were discovered, the school district had been working with a hybrid model, using remote learning technology three days a week with two days of in-person classes.

Brandt said about 16 teachers and 80 students have been required to quarantine as a result of the recent COVID cases.

Also as a result of those cases, the school board was back to livestreaming its meetings Thursday night instead of gathering in person.

“I thought we were done with this,” board member Carlos Gnipp said as board members struggled to adjust their cameras and microphones at the start of the meeting.

It was not all gloom, though. Brandt told the group the school district had already received $1.6 million in coronavirus relief funding, and the second part of that funding is on the way. The money is not meant to supplant the school budget but, instead, to provide help with costs directly related to the dealing with the coronavirus.

“This is wonderful,” Brandt said, “because it is costing a lot of money to do a hybrid model.”

Several school principals told the board that until four positive cases of COVID were reported, the school year had been going swimmingly, with students adapting well to the disruptions.

“It’s tough, but they’re hanging in there,” said Tripp Middle School Principal Gail Marine. “Until this week, we were really upbeat and glad to be back.”

“I’m amazed at how positive they are with these circumstances,” Turner Elementary School Principal Kelly Marston said.

Leeds Central School Principal Danielle Harris said she was grateful for support from parents as students were brought back into classrooms.

School restarted Aug. 31 for the district.

And Brandt commended several principals and school nurses for their hard work in helping with the arduous task of contact tracing after the positive cases were discovered.

“The process has been difficult, and it’s new to all of us,” she said. “There’s no playbook for this.”

Brandt told the school board that electronic devices ordered for one-to-one learning with students have not arrived as quickly as she would have hoped. They are expected sometime next week.

The COVID-19 cases discovered at the Turner schools in recent days do not represent an outbreak, Brandt wrote in a letter to parents earlier in the week.

“The four positive cases we have had are not considered an outbreak,” she wrote. “However, out of an abundance of caution, all four MSAD 52 Turner schools, Turner Primary School, Turner Elementary School, Tripp Middle School and Leavitt Area High School, will go to fully remote teaching and learning for the next week. Co-curricular activities are also suspended for the week.”

Greene Central School and Leeds Central School were not affected.


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