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DNS August Restart Letter from Ms. McKay
Kim Burgess
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Dear Dike-Newell Families,

Happy August! 

The RSU1 School Board met last week, and approved the district school reopening plan.  We are eager to see students again, and we know for our youngest learners in-person instruction is critically important for their social, emotional, and mental well-being. While there are many things we need to do differently, it is important to note that we believe we can bring PK-5 students back to school in-person meeting the CDC and DOE guidelines for safety. 

For PK-5 students, this includes 100% attendance five days/week. RSU1 will begin the school year for PK-5 with a period of time in September where students attend at 50% capacity two days/week so that we can explicitly teach the school routines and procedures we normally do, layered this year with the safety protocols and hygiene practices necessary to keep germs at bay.  

Our school year for students will therefore begin on September 8th, except for Pre-K which begins on September 14th. Students will be assigned to one of two groups, initially.  One group (A) will attend school 2 days/week, the other group (B) will attend the other 2 days/week.  Because the first week of school only has school Tuesday-Friday, we will utilize all four days.  In the following two weeks, we will have group A come on Monday/Thursday, and group B come Tuesday/Friday.  Nobody will attend school on Wednesday.  All students enrolled for in-person learning will come 5 days per week beginning 9/28.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Week of 9/7

No School

Group A

Group B

Group A

Group B

Week of 9/14

Group A

Group B

Group A

Group B

Week of 9/21

Group A

Group B

Group A

Group B

Week of 9/28

All Students

All Students

All Students

All Students

All Students

We will be coordinating with the other RSU 1 schools to ensure that siblings across grades PK-12 have in-person instruction on the same days. 

When we move to 100% of students having in-person instruction 5 days/week, there will be staggered bus runs to ensure social distancing guidelines can be met on school transportation. 50% of students will be attending school from roughly 8:20-2:15, and the other 50% from 9:20-3:15. If you are driving your child to school, you will be assigned either an 8:20-2:15 or 9:20-3:15 time slot as well.  

Please know, we understand that this plan may not work for some families.  Here please find a survey coming to you from RSU1 seeking to find out if you will be:

  1. Having your child(ren) participate in their grade-level plan for in-person instruction

  2. Opting for 100% distance learning through December

  3. Homeschooling or enrolling in an alternate program

Distance learning will consist of 2.5-3 hours daily that will be self-directed, online learning as well as “in-person” virtual teaching with assigned distance learning teachers, who will not be your child’s classroom teacher, and may not be a teacher from Dike-Newell School.  The majority of work will be online, as well as pen and paper tasks. This learning will occur during school hours. 

Please complete the survey linked above one time for EACH child you have enrolled in RSU1 schools. 

The deadline for making that determination is August 17th, so that schools can determine enrollment, ensure staffing needs are met, and create rosters and schedules based off of the number of students in attendance. If you elect for in-person instruction, but find it is not working for your child, you can switch to distance learning.  However, if you elect for distance learning, you cannot opt back into in-person instruction before January, as our staffing arrangements will be set up for specific class sizes and social distancing requirements.  

It is also important to note that school will not look “typical” when it resumes. These are the requirements that students and staff must follow:

SYMPTOM SCREENING BEFORE SCHOOL:

  • Parents and caregivers must complete the self-check for symptoms for children prior to sending them to school or having them board the buses. 

  • Staff will also be completing the self-check for symptoms before attending work.

  • Anyone showing symptoms must report their symptoms and must not be present at school, or take the bus. 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING/FACILITIES:

  • Adults will maintain 6 feet of social distancing to the extent possible.  

  • Students can be 3 feet minimum, with the other safety measures listed here in place (face masks, etc.)

  • 6 feet is required when students are eating or drinking, as they will be unable to wear masks during that time.

  • Dike-Newell will have a medical isolation room designated for students or staff who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms during the school day.

  • School ventilation systems have been reviewed this summer and upgrades are being made to ensure we maximize the capacity for adequate ventilation.  We will also maximize outdoor air exchange through opening windows as weather allows.

  • There will be no large gatherings (assemblies, group lunches, large recesses) as they exceed the gathering size limits set by the state. 

MASKS/FACE COVERINGS:

  • Adults are required to wear a mask/face covering (no vents).

  • Students age 2 and above are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth.

  • Masks/face coverings must be worn on the bus, and in school at all times apart from designated “mask breaks” or mask-free six-foot distanced activities like lunch and recess.  If students are less than six feet from other students or staff, they must have a mask on. 

  • Face shields may be an alternative for students with medical/behavioral/other challenges who are unable to wear masks/face coverings.  This applies to staff as well, who have medical or other health reasons for being unable to wear face coverings. Face shields worn in place of a mask must extend below the chin and back to the ears. 

  • The school will not provide face masks for students. Please be prepared to send your child to school with a face mask.  We recommend sending an additional mask to be kept in the classroom in case your child’s mask becomes uncomfortable, too moist, breaks, or has some other reason it cannot be worn during the school day. 

  • Students are required to bring/wear one mask daily, two are recommended in case of breakage, and masks must have ear loops or head straps. 

HAND HYGIENE:

  • We will teach and practice proper hand hygiene

  • All students and staff must wash hands or sanitize upon entering school, before and after eating, before and after removing or donning a face mask, after using the restroom, before and after use of playgrounds and shared equipment, and upon entering and exiting the school bus. 

We are still working on many details, including bussing, utilizing outdoor learning spaces, and pick-up/drop-off protocols.  I hope that by sharing some of this information it will help you make your decision regarding which option to choose for your child(ren.) If you have questions or concerns that I can help you with, please feel free to reach out to me via email at jmckay@rsu1.org, or at Dike-Newell School - 207-443-8285.

Thank you,

Jennifer McKay

Principal, Dike-Newell School