St. John Valley

Valley Unified moves forward with calendar despite COVID-19 uncertainties

MADAWASKA, Maine — Valley Unified’s Regional Service Center — which services the three school administrative units of the Madawaska School Department and SADs 27 and 33 — will move forward with the school calendar approved at the beginning of this year. 


Despite uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, Valley Unified under the direction of Superintendent Ben Sirois recently announced it would go ahead with the calendar which includes a harvest break for all schools except for the Madawaska Elementary School. Sirois noted that school has not observed harvest break in years. 

“I am pleased that we were able to have productive conversations about the school calendar with our school boards and local farmers,” Sirois said. “It was obvious to the school board members that the farmers rely on students to help harvest their crops, even though that number does decrease every year. “

They will continue to monitor how effective harvest break is for the students and farmers, Sirois said. 

“Although remote learning provides us an opportunity to allow students to attend school remotely and go to harvest, all agree that the long work days on the farm would not work with the learning demands established in remote learning,” Sirois said. 

For that reason, the SAUs all decided to keep harvest break in the calendar. 

“The school boards would like to continue to support harvest break; however, future conversations about whether or not the elementary grade levels should break for harvest will occur in SAD33 and SAD27,” he said.

The majority of the schools are set to start Aug. 20, while Madawaska Elementary School will begin classes on Sept. 3.

“Valley Unified is planning on a variety of school possibilities for the fall, but we are hopeful that schools will be in session,” Sirois said. “These determinations will be based on the guidance we are receiving from the Department of Education, the CDC, and are all conditional of any executive order issued or lifted by the governor.”

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