St. John Valley

Madawaska School Committee approves Valley Unified reintegration plan

MADAWASKA, Maine — The Madawaska School Committee approved the Valley Unified reintegration plan that would allow half of its students to return to school Aug. 20 with the other half returning the following day at its meeting on Monday. 


The plan was designed using Gov. Janet Mills’ steps to return to school as outlined by her administration in accordance with the Maine CDC. In addition to the steps outlined, Mills announced that protocols including face coverings will be financially supported by federal CARES Act funding, which she secured for schools across Maine. 

As the three school administrative units Madawaska School Department, and MSADs 27 and 33, which make up Valley Unified, wrapped up the 2019-20 remote learning phase, Valley Unified created a reintegration team to break up into smaller committees to work on a plan for safe return in the fall. 

These committees included a return to school core team, a health and wellness team, a restoration of instruction team and a school site team. With the recommendations from the committees as well as feedback from parent surveys, the plan says that “Valley Unified schools plan to open for in-classroom instruction at the start of the 2020-21 school year.” 

The plan outlines the six requirements for safely opening the schools in the fall. Those are symptom screening at home before going to school for all staff and students, physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet, implementation of masks or face coverings, implementation of proper hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment, and if sick, home isolation until the other five requirements are met. 

For the pre-screening before classes each day, the schools will provide a refrigerator magnet that lists COVID-19 symptoms and questions to ask before leaving home, such as “Have you had a fever,” and “have you been in contact with anyone with COVID-19?”

Any student displaying any of the symptoms on the magnet is encouraged to call their school to inform them immediately. 

As part of the physical social distancing requirement, each school in the Valley Unified School system will have a designated medical isolation room for students/staff who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. The isolated people and room will not be accessible by the general population of students and staff.

For the third requirement, students older than 5 and staff are required to wear face coverings at all times. According to the plan, students under the age of 5 are recommended to wear a mask from age 2 and older. 

As for personal protection equipment, posters will be displayed throughout the schools to demonstrate proper ways to wear masks and utilize other PPE. 

Sinks for washing hands have been updated so they can be used without touching the faucet and will display posters with proper hand-washing techniques. 

Students will no longer be allowed to share supplies. 

The plan also outlines ways to assist students and staff with social, emotional, behavioral and mental health issues that result from the pandemic. Some tools include meetings and other resources.

A survey will be made available to parents of the Madawaska School Department students to ask them their plans on how they would like to proceed with their child’s education, which could include back-to-school instruction, school-sponsored remote learning or parent-sponsored home schooling.

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