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Madawaska School Committee reviews hybrid learning model

MADAWASKA, Maine — Superintendent Ben Sirois and Madawaska School Committee members reviewed the hybrid learning model Madawaska School Department students are now using during a meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9. 

Madawaska Middle/High School and Madawaska Elementary School students moved to the hybrid learning model Thursday, Dec. 10. 

Sirois said administrators decided to enter into the hybrid model due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the St. John Valley and the rest of Aroostook County. 

Sirois pointed out a local case count of plus 9 cases in the area as of Wednesday.

“Dr. Roberts has informed us that there’s probably more on the way,” Sirois said. 

“In fact I can assure you there will be one more for tomorrow,” Sirois added, citing a person associated with Fort Kent Elementary School who tested positive on Wednesday. 

Sirois also noted the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Aroostook County.

Under the hybrid learning model, Sirois said that middle and high school students would rotate in-class and online learning, with half of the students in the school building on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. 

With no students in the school buildings on Wednesdays, schools will undergo a deep sanitation. Teachers will use that day to assist students online who request help, and to attend teacher workshops on those days. 

Sirois said some teachers had requested to work from home on Wednesdays, but administrators prefer the teachers work in the school buildings. 

“Our schools are safe to work remotely,” Sirois said. “There’s no cause for concern in our schools at this time.”

Elementary school students do not participate in online Zoom learning sessions under the hybrid model. Instead they alternate between in-school learning one day and follow-up activities at home the next on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  

Sirois said that administrators were erring on the side of caution by moving to the hybrid model, and as of Wednesday were not considering a move to remote learning.

SAD 27 schools moved to a remote learning model last week, after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases was identified at a local business. 

“We’re not in that place right now,” Sirois said to the Madawaska committee members.

Wednesday’s meeting can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/MrSiroisYouTube

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Madawaska School Committee will take place at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11.

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