August 13, 2021
Dear RSU 50 Parents/Guardians,
I hope you are well and are enjoying the summer break with your children. I am writing to inform you about the opening of school for So. Aroostook students. The first student day of school is Monday, August 30th. The student school day will run from 7:30-2:20 each day. So. Aroostook will not be offering a remote learning option for the 2021-22 school year. Students who are quarantined due to Covid-19 exposure are able to access remote learning, but only for the length of the quarantine.
I am very thankful for the cooperation and support from students, parents and staff on a successful school year last year. We put many prevention strategies in place to keep our students, staff, and community safe. As a school community, we are continuing to take COVID-19 seriously. With the increased number of Covid-19 cases in our region and the State, the recommendations from the Maine CDC and the Department of Education, the RSU 50 Board has approved a school plan to start the school year with mandatory masking for all students and staff while indoors. They have also approved a plan for pooled testing for students and staff. We are hopeful that the number of cases will reduce in our region, and we will be re-evaluating our plan throughout the course of the school year.
Keeping our students safe and limiting the disruptions to in-person instruction are our first priorities. The decisions for universal masking and pooled testing support both of these priorities. Here are three major changes to the Standard Operating Procedures for Covid-19 that were released by the Maine Department of Education.
Fully vaccinated people who are asymptomatic do not have to quarantine when exposed to a positive COVID case. We continue to recommend vaccinations for all students and staff that are eligible. We will be scheduling a vaccination clinic in the Fall. More details forthcoming.
Any student or staff member who participates in weekly pooled testing is exempt from quarantine if exposed to COVID at school and is asymptomatic. Pooled testing is optional and requires parental consent. More details about pooled testing will also be forthcoming.
Asymptomatic students who attend school while wearing masks indoors and who were at least 3' away from the individual who tested positive (with no physical contact) in a classroom do not have to quarantine from the regular school day.
Southern Aroostook continues to work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have received federal funds to use for Covid-related reasons. With these funds we have purchased: touchless faucets & sinks, extra cleaning & sanitizing materials, thermometers for temperature checks, plexiglass, and personal protective equipment which includes face masks, face shields, and gloves. We have also purchased an air purifying system called an O2 Prime system and will also be working to upgrade our existing air exchange systems.
Being informed is still the best way to protect the health of your student. Information is available on the RSU 50 web page or our social media pages. We will be posting more information about pooled testing on the website, (Return to School Student Guidelines - RSU 50), in the next few days. The web address is rsu50.org.
I continue to be grateful for your support of our efforts. Like you, we want to make sure our students remain safe and healthy while they are here at school and share the common goal of ensuring access to full-time in-person education for all students. If you have any questions, please call the school at 757-8206.
Jon Porter, Superintendent