Opening Advisory Committe (OAC)

Union93 covid developments

Statements from Supt. Mark Hurvitt:

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Friday December 4, 2020

Hi everybody.

Today, Maine CDC and DHHS came out with the new color designation for Hancock County: Green.

Androscoggin, Somerset, York, and now Oxford are in Yellow.

Franklin and Washington have moved from Yellow to Green.

Penobscot (County) is now on Monitor.

Green means that we are allowed to keep school in person. And, the issues which I mentioned in Union 93 last weekend are all under control, at this point.

So, we will be back in school in Blue Hill, Castine, Penobscot, and Surry starting December 7th. Brooksville will either be back December 7th or December 9th, and Cammie will be in touch with Brooksville on that, as quarantine rules are changing.

As always, parents can make the call to keep children at home, if they need to.

The Maine data, as of today is: 15.5 cases per 10,000 people in schools and 41.1 cases per 10,000 people in the general population, and that fact alone has contributed to the CDC, DHHS, and the DOE saying that students and teachers are way safer in schools than anywhere else, save staying at home. Also, there is very scarce evidence of transmission in a school environment in Maine because of all the precautions we have in place.

The next designation will be December 11th.

So, we are aiming for school in person for the next 2 weeks and 2 days, and then we’ll see what’s in store for us in January.

I want to thank all of the hard working staff and parents for juggling things this past week, and I appreciate your hard work and flexibility immensely!

And, I want to let Brooksville know that your school was super-cleaned today by Casco Bay Cleaning, and they used their electrostatic sprayer, so when Dawn and I went over there, it was like Ghost Busters.

Have a restful weekend.

Mark.

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Monday November 30, 2020

Hi all.

I am writing today to fill you in on our plans for school in December in Union 93 in light of the flurry of issues which came up yesterday on the heels of Thanksgiving break.

First of all, I am very proud and happy that we made it through November 24th IN PERSON in Union 93, 5 days a week. November 24th was also the end of the 1st trimester in Union 93, so there’s that, too.

Second of all, the climate has definitely shifted recently in Maine (200+ new cases per day), in Hancock County (which was doing way better than State average for a long time), and in Union 93 (which had no in school cases until a couple of days ago). Now, we can’t ignore the fact that COVID is here in Blue Hill, Brooksville, Castine, Penobscot, and Surry, and that, as a school system, we are charged with keeping students and staff safe in our schools. We have done an amazing job, but now we find an array of challenges ahead of us.

We all know about the outbreak at The Island Nursing Home (46 people) and that is very concerning to all of us.

Plus, the CDC has told us that we need to test 65 people at Brooksville Elementary School because of the case there. I don’t need to tell you how interconnected all of these five towns are, and, even if only 10% of those tests turn out to be positive, that still means 6-7 people with close contacts to individuals in the other four schools. We have seen how this virus can spread. So, with the support of all our Administrators and Nurses, earlier today, I have decided to play it safe and to go remote (Red) for this entire week (11/30-12/4).

We will know a lot more by the weekend, so we are going to re-convene on Sunday morning as an Administrative Team and get the word out to everyone by noon on Sunday (12/6) about the plans for the weeks of December 7th, December 14th, and the short week of December 21st and 22nd. My thought, at this point, is that we will move to our Yellow Plans on December 7th, especially if Hancock County is designated Yellow on December 4th, the next designation date. And, as far as school on January 4th, 2021, we’ll see!

Since we are a School Union, and every town has its own School Board, and every town has its own Green, Yellow, and Red Plan, your Principal will be getting back to you with the details you will need to know. Such as:

When does remote learning start this week?

What will it look like?

What will the expectations be?

What about the technology (which is probably at school)?

What about the home learning packets?

What about school lunches?

What does your Yellow Plan mean (since we haven’t utilized those before)?

And, there are many other details I haven’t listed.

In any event, Brooksville will be out of school until at least December 9th. And, this brings out another good point, that we try to work as a School Union, but often individual schools will have different plans because of individual circumstances.

Also, School Board meetings in December will all be on zoom, and we are in the process of making those changes.

All and all, not a great e-mail as I had hoped to have schools open, in person, at least through 2020. But, at this point, that is not the safest route for students, staff, and for the Peninsula Community.

Sincerely,

Mark.

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Sunday November 29, 2020

Hi all.

I hope everybody’s Thanksgiving went well.

You already know that there is a lot going on in Maine, in Hancock County, and on the Blue Hill Peninsula with COVID.

Out of an abundance of caution, I am closing Brooksville, Blue Hill, Castine, Penobscot, and Surry tomorrow. Here’s why:

There is a significant outbreak on Deer Isle, at the Island Nursing Home, and several of our families are tied to that.

We have just had a positive case in Brooksville, and that also has some cross pollination with other schools.

Plus, there have been many stories, maybe rumors, certainly reasons for concern, about travel and gatherings during Thanksgiving break, and about what we would be dealing with at our schools if they were to open tomorrow.

So, for these reasons, our 5 schools will be closed tomorrow when we will attempt for figure this all out.

I am considering this a “snow day” even though it will be 50 degrees tomorrow, and we will not be doing remote school. However, this will be a good chance for everybody (parents, students, teachers) to think through their remote school (Red) plans, as we will certainly need them at some point.

We are running an Administrative Team Meeting tomorrow at 1:00 with our nurses and we will further sort through the details.

Brooksville, at least, will be closed until December 9th, following CDC regulations. Cammie will be in touch with everyone, but you can expect the Red plan to start on December 1st.

We have done a FANTASTIC job so far, but, at this point, I can not say that students and staff will be safer in school tomorrow than they would be at home or in the community. I have been able to say this, with a straight face, up until now.

Our goal is to figure things out tomorrow, school by school, and to reinstitute in person learning, if we can, ASAP. If not, we will go to Yellow or Red plans, school by school. And, you will be hearing from your principal about this, moving forward.

Maine is in a tough spot, and things do not seem to be trending in the right direction. I am always optimistic, but I do feel as though we need this pause tomorrow to re-assess.

Stay safe,

Mark.


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In the summer of 2020, Supt. Mark Hurvitt brought together a group of 25 educators from the five Union93 schools to research, discuss and prepare guidance on how to open the union's schools in September. The OAC will gather available information on best practices for the health of students and staff, for the optimal learning environments given the risks posed by the pandemic and how to solve or least propose solutions to the many technical, budgetary, and social complications the schools are facing.

The committee is meeting weekly through the summer. Supt. Hurvitt is working closely with the committee, which will present its recommendations to him later in the summer.

Here are minutes of the OAC meetings: