RUMFORD — Two Regional School Unit 10 schools and a special education program have closed for in-person learning because of COVID-19, Superintendent Deb Alden told directors Monday.

“The cases are not coming from our schools,” Alden said Tuesday. “The problem is we have so many people that have to quarantine.”

The closures were due to staff being quarantined because of close contacts with people who tested positive for the virus.

Alden said she thinks the staff and everyone involved in the district are “taking the precautions” of the pandemics seriously since those who have quarantined “don’t come down with COVID.

On Tuesday, Rumford Elementary School closed to in-person learning until Friday. One student at the school tested positive for COVID-19 and there was not enough staff to cover educational needs.

Buckfield Junior-Senior High School closed its building Dec. 8 when one staff member tested positive for coronavirus and then not enough staff was available because of quarantines, Alden said.

A special education program at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico has switched to fully virtual learning Thursday due to one positive coronavirus test, she said. The special education program, now fully remote, includes seven educators and around 18 students.

On Nov. 30, Mountain Valley High School in Rumford brought 35 of its in-building freshmen students back four days a week rather than two days a week. All students continue to attend classes virtually on Wednesdays. In all, there are 75 freshmen in the building four days a week and 10 to 15 students who are fully remote learners.

Alden and other school administrators are also planning to increase fifth- and sixth-grade students’ in-building days at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico from two to four days beginning Jan. 4, depending on the level of risk of COVID infection.

The school includes seventh and eighth-grade students who attend in cohorts, each two days of the week and virtually on Wednesdays.

Principal Ryan Casey told directors Monday that staff are prepared to bring fifth and sixth grade students back to school four days a week regardless of a low or moderate risk designation because they wear masks and socially distance.

“The fifth and sixth grades are prepared to follow the same guidelines,” he said. “It will be tougher, there is no way around it.”

In other business, the board approved:

• Paying substitute educational technicians $86 a day starting Jan. 1. It’s the same amount paid to substitute teachers with less than two years of college education.

• Paying substitute teachers with two years or more of college education $92.

• Paying substitute certified teachers or teachers with a lapsed certification $110 a day.

• Paying $2,316, one-sixth of a teacher’s base salary, for a Unified Basketball coach for the district.

• Authorizing a $95,000 bond to pay for two buses.

• Starting the holiday break Dec. 21, not Dec. 23. Chairman Director Greg Buccina recommended the change as a way to “recognize our staff, students and all of our employees.”

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