AUBURN — The school district is working toward a plan to return all students to in-person instruction at least four days a week, but it likely won’t happen by Jan. 4.

The City Council last week passed a resolution asking the School Committee to allow students to return by that date.

Assistant Superintendent Michelle McClellan told the committee Wednesday night that the re-entry steering committee, which she chairs, has been looking at options for doing that in a safe way.

“We will continue after today,” McClellan said. “We will dive deeper into the options, balancing them with safety precautions, guidelines from the state with some adjustments.”

State guidelines call for mask-wearing and social distancing of at least 3 feet between each person in a room.

Because of the extra space needed, schools have been operating under a hybrid system of groups attending in-person classes twice a week and working remotely three days.


The system is designed to limit exposure to COVID-19, a deadly pandemic that is surging around the country. Maine hit another record high Wednesday with 551 new cases reported.

Schools have been identified by health officials as relatively safe places, and a survey of Auburn parents and students showed that a majority of each wanted schools to fully reopen.

McClellan said that in light of “the community transmission right now,” the steering committee would make sure it could find a way to reopen safely.

“The goal is not if but when we come back and can increase student learning at a time when it is appropriate,” she said.

Brian Carrier, the City Council’s representative to the School Committee, said the council had wanted to know whether it would be possible to open schools for four-day instruction by Jan. 4. That is when the Christmas break ends.

“I told them that in practical terms, it probably would not happen, because there are so many moving parts,” Carrier said Wednesday night.


Parent Susan Simpson, whose husband, David Simpson, is vice chairman of the School Committee, told the committee she was disappointed that the district was not using its $1.9 million audiovisual system to teach lessons.

Superintendent Connie Brown said the systems are installed and teachers are using them. The Pro-AV technology allows remote students to participate in live classes on the days those students are not in class.

“My understanding is that we are at the tail end of implementation,” Brown said.

She said some teachers wanted more training. “In terms of universal use, we are not there yet.”

Susan Simpson also told the committee she believed administrators were not listening to parents and students who want to return to school full time.

“I’m not the only parent questioning why they are not in class,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to me that our kids cannot be receiving five days a week of school.”

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