FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue Middle School students and staff will turn to remote learning the rest of this week due to a shortage of staff.

Regional School Unit 9 was “forced” to make the change from in-person learning due to a “large” staff shortage and “a lack of substitutes,” Superintendent Chris Elkington said in an announcement sent across the district.

In an update sent to district families Friday, Elkington wrote that any other steps amid health concerns will, in part, hinge on whether the district has “enough staff to run the school or program successfully.”

“We are closely monitoring staff absences (teachers, ed techs, bus drivers, food service workers etc.) as the impact on a given grade level, program, or school, could force some into remote learning for short periods of time,” Elkington wrote.

He specifically highlighted a bus driver shortage as a contributing factor to going remote. Bus driver shortages have been impacting RSU 9and districts across Maine — since the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

The district includes Chesterville, Farmington, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Starks, Temple, Vienna, Weld and Wilton.

Director of Curriculum Laura Columbia said Friday that if remote learning were necessary, the district would hope to isolate the transition among “only those that are affected” such as a specific group or community, rather than an entire school. Staffing shortages appear to pose challenges to that plan.

Elkington said the district’s tech department is working to provide hot spots to students and families without reliable internet access. These students have been identified through back-to-school paperwork, he wrote.

In addition, the district will provide daily boxed meals that include lunch and breakfasts for the next morning. The meals can be picked up from 10 a.m. to noon each day at the main entrance of Mt. Blue Middle School. No pre-order is required.

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