LEWISTON — Students, teachers and administrators could be facing a new set of COVID-related rules for the upcoming school year.

Lewiston school Superintendent Jake Langlais on Friday presented a list of proposals that would leave mask wearing optional and vaccines strongly recommended — but not mandatory. He also called for a return to in-person classes and no remote learning for quarantine situations.

In the memo, Langlais said he based some of his decisions on his own observations of the way people around him have been conducting themselves in response to the latest COVID-19 developments.

“The truth is people are living their lives in various ways,” Langlais wrote. “They are living as they choose for themselves and their families. Vaccinated or not, there are few if any masks being worn in stores, at facilities, at parks, at home, on fields, in gyms or in summer school, to name some. There are spaces that still require masks but it seems they are few and far between, and based on personal or organizational preferences rather than requirements.”

Decisions on masks will be left to students and their families, Langlais wrote, although they may be required on buses.

Of the decision to leave vaccines optional, Langlais said that decision, too, should ultimately belong to the students and their families.

“I have been an advocate for vaccinations and I will continue to do so,” he wrote. “However, I do not carry the authority to, nor do I want to, make medical decisions for individuals and families. I will leave that debate to others.”

The primary goal, Langlais said, is full-time, in-person learning. On that subject, he included some caveats.

• The state has some remote learning — if you choose not to send your student to school we advise you seek out the state model or other alternatives.
• Lewiston Middle School is trying to continue with a remote cohort that has limitations (if we can fill positions). Reach out to LMS if you have interest. This is not a guarantee.
• No other schools will offer remote learning as the option for the year.
• Contact tracing will continue.
• Those vaccinated do not need to quarantine.
• We will not be providing remote learning for quarantine situations. Students will need to access assignments and information just as they would if they had the flu in years past.

Langlais said the schools will continue to promote screening by students before they attend school, and symptoms will be monitored.

“If you have symptoms — stay home,” Langlais wrote. “If you take a bus you have a mask on unless otherwise specified. We sanitize and wash our hands. We practice good hygiene. We do our best to maintain spacing between people while knowing it is a learning environment. Lunch looks like lunch with some modifications, PE looks like PE, recess looks like recess, and the school day looks like a school day.”

The Lewiston School Committee is expected to consider the recommendations when it meets next week. The meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Monday, will be offered through Zoom and Langlais said he was hoping members of the community would weigh in.

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