All Lisbon students and staff must wear face masks when they head back to school in the fall.

Lisbon school committee members discuss fall reopening plans during the school committee meeting Monday Video screenshot

The Lisbon School Committee voted 3-2 Monday in favor of the mask requirement, which will be revisited in October when it will be either extended, dropped, or otherwise adjusted.

Vanessa Weber, whose child will be re-entering school this year after being homeschooled last year, wrote to the school department requesting to consider making masks mandatory for everyone’s safety.

“Most school districts have voted for mask mandate this year, and I urge the Lisbon school committee to do the same,” said Weber. “It’s for the safety of our students, especially the ones in elementary school who are unable to receive vaccination yet.”

Michelle Dun, a resident of Topsham and a mother of two girls pleaded with the committee members to end the mask mandates in schools and allow parents and students to make a choice in the matter.

“The COVID numbers in the town are not high enough to implement mask mandate. I request the committee members to consider a temporary trial period without mandating masks in schools,” said Dun.

The committee discussed the department’s fall reopening plans and reviewed a specific COVID-related handbook.

“Covid has not gone away and is not going anytime soon,” said Lisbon School Department superintendent Richard Green. “We have been down this road before, and we will do what we can as our student’s safety is our priority.”

Green said air quality renovations worth approximately $2 million had been carried out across all the schools in the town.

All students are required to do the daily self-assessment this year.

Under the new guidelines, the students can go to school if they have some illness symptoms but should produce a negative COVID test report or an alternative diagnosis.

If a student is exposed to a positive COVID case, the student should have no symptoms of illness, must be participating in the pool testing program, and be fully vaccinated for the student to attend the school. However, if the student has COVID symptoms, they cannot attend the school, irrespective of them being vaccinated or participating in the pool testing program

All students and staff are required to wear masks while using the school buses and vans. Although there is no social distancing rule this year, the students should refrain from handshakes and hugs.

All the events, including open houses, parent-teacher conferences, and back-to-school events will be held in person this year. However, virtual options will be available for those who are uncomfortable coming in person. According to the new guidelines in the handbook, field trips and assemblies and other large gatherings will also be held this year.

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