BANGOR, Maine — As Maine students get ready to go back to school this fall, many parents will be happy to find out if their kids can go back inside the classroom.
Under guidance from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and the Maine Department of Education (MDOE), schools will be determined by county if they can go back to in-person learning, hybrid learning, or remote learning.
The MDOE will categorize each county in the state by color. Green meaning in-person learning, yellow meaning hybrid, and red signifying remote learning.
The Bangor School Committee met Wednesday to announce its options for the upcoming year and release what protocols would be in place if students do come back in the buildings.
Chair Warren Caruso said if, given the 'green light', students will be welcomed back to the classrooms if their parents choose.
“They could also do a hybrid model, where there’d be two days in school, the rest remote or completely remote, so we’re willing to offer them all three options," Caruso said.
Mask wearing, hand washing, and directional patterns would all be introduced if class resumes in-person.
For parents like Brandi Meservey and Morgan Mazzei, the announcement of returning to school can't come fast enough.
“We were glad when it was over," Mazzei said about last year's online learning curve. "I’m thrilled with the things put in place, I think they’re the right things.”
Mazzei is a nurse within the Northern Light hospital system and is familiar with CDC protocols as she follows them every shift.
“If they’re working in health care, they should work in schools. If it’s not working, then we roll with that, but we have to try.”
She added older students, like her son and daughter, who are in middle and high school should have no issues wearing masks and washing hands more often. But it could be a little tricky with younger kids to make sure they are properly wearing a mask when they need to.
Meservey has three sons at home. They moved across town and into new schools last winter, only weeks before the pandemic hit Maine and forced her boys to learn from home.
She said her kids, including one with sensory issues, get more from interacting with their friends and classmates than learning from home.
“I mean you don’t live your life sitting at a computer screen. I feel like what you’re going to lose by keeping everybody home and secluded, it’s worse," Meservey added.
Along with the back to school plans, the School Committee introduced a new full-time Affirmative Action Officer to help with anti-racism issues within the school community.
“(The officer) will be involved in training with our students, with our staff, and it will just be an on-going process to improve our anti-racism, inclusivity, and equity, in our school."
Racism within the school system was an issue talked at prior meetings and brought up again Wednesday. Caruso said the system formed a committee made up of students, staff, and community members to address those concerns.
“(The committee will) continue to put additional steps in, and additional policies that will hopefully improve the culture of our community," Caruso added.
The school will also be adding an anonymous tip line to its app for any incidents that the Officer can look into.
No matter how it will look, kids from Bangor will be back in school, or on the computer for the first day of class on September 1.