AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Education asked for thoughts on bringing students and staff back to school in the Fall, through a series of surveys released in early July. MDOE released the initial findings Wednesday, after receiving 40,000 responses from Maine families, communities, educators, and leaders across the state.
Staff and students want to be back in the building and plan to return, according to the survey. For parents, 71% say they would send their child back and 82% say their child was eager to return.
Staff surveyed had a similar view, 88% of school/district leaders say they would come back, while 79-80% of educators/school personnel say they would return to in-person instruction.
Concerns about the health and safety of the staff and students are also high.
More than half of the parents surveyed have concerns about their child returning to class, while 72% of educators not only worry about their health but even more are concerned about their students’ health and well-being while in the school building.
But can school districts implement and enforce the new requirements? Sixty-percent of parents believe the schools can implement the requirements for health and safety, But when it comes to specific measures – it dropped.
- 34% of parents/guardians say students will be able to avoid congregating.
- 35% avoid physical contact
- 35% maintaining social distancing
- 38% believe masks would stay on
- 17% avoid congregating:
- 14% avoid physical contact
- 15% maintain social distancing
- 22% wear masks
School and district leadership:
- 54% avoid congregating:
- 57% avoid physical contact
- 48% maintain social distancing
- 62% wear masks
The Maine Department of Education says the next steps are ordering more personal protective equipment and developing an instructional toolkit of videos, print materials, and more to reinforce safety protocols. The department plans on releasing any new data or information to the public as it comes in.
Commissioner Pender Makin released a statement thanking those who took the survey:
"Their input is not only deeply appreciated, but it is critical as we further develop our guidance to schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and continue to have conversations with leaders across the state about education in Maine. We remain committed to providing support and leadership during these uncertain and unprecedented times."