REGION — At last week’s school board meeting, directors heard from Jaime Gilman, who had questions regarding Oxford County’s recent designation as yellow. The county had been green until a recent spike in COVID-19 caused the change in classification.

Gilman wondered if the district was planning to change anything about its current hybrid-learning model given the recent increase in cases.

“The Department of Education website states that the goal of hybrid education is to reduce the number of students and staff in one place at the same time. My question and concern is that in this current hybrid model the district is using it does not seem to meet all of this,” Gilman said.

Gilman said last year her daughter’s classroom had 15 students in it and this year it still has 14. She said her son’s class was reduced by four students.

Gilman wondered if the district had plans to try and further reduce the number of in-class students given the county’s designation as yellow.

Later in the meeting, Superintendent Dave Murphy explained in his superintendent’s report the school’s plan moving forward. Murphy said currently around 80 percent of students are attending school in person and 20 percent are engaging remotely. Murphy also said several students have returned to in-class instruction after starting out remote.

“We do not let students enroll or move back in if we do not have enough space to physically distance,” Murphy said. “If we had someone new that moved in and there was not enough room to put them in safely, they would be told that they would have to enroll remotely until a spot were to open.”

In other news, directors heard from all three school principals, who gave a brief update on how the return to school has been for students, so far.

“We couldn’t ask for a better start to the school year. The students have been great. It has been a lot for the teachers, they’ve worked harder than ever before,” Telstar Principal Mark Kenney said. “Teachers have reported that classroom engagement has been good. Many students are upset when there are half-days or days off, they would rather be here and I think that speaks highly to the start of our school year.”

Kenney said all safety protocols have been followed and that it has been entire staff effort pulling off this strong start to the school year.

“Things have gone well. Students have done a good job following masking and other new rule changes,” Woodstock Principal Jessica Wilkey said. “Students are overall definitely relieved to be back in school.”

Wilkey also mentioned that safety protocols are being followed by students and that they have done well adjusting to all the changes.

“Our students are happy to be back, too. I think our students have done an excellent job of remembering their masks everyday. They are working hard to follow every protocol we have in place,” Crescent Park Principal Tanya Arsenault said. “The feedback I have received from families has been positive. Our entire staff has stepped up. They are doing things without asking to make sure our students stay safe.”

Arsenault also singled out the school’s two monitors, Jack Mallory and Matt Lavoie, both recent Telstar graduates, who Arsenault said have been “instrumental” in ensuring a safe start to the school year.



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