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Phippsburg, ME (November 12, 2020) – Phippsburg Elementary School (PES) is now closing its third week of fulltime in-person learning after becoming the first school in RSU1 to meet reopening requirements.
The RSU1 School Board voted unanimously on the decision at their October 20 meeting after considering the six requirements for safely open schools as outlined by the Maine Department of Education: Symptom screening at home before coming to school (for all staff and students), physical distancing and facilities to support distancing, mandatory masks/face coverings, training in proper hand hygiene, available precautionary personal protective equipment, and home isolation requirements during illness for staff and students.
Principal Sandra Gorsuch-Plummer shared that her staff were excited for students to return to school fulltime and have been doing their best to accommodate the needs of individual students as they transition from hybrid learning.
“PES staff are incredibly caring individuals and are extremely committed to ensuring that our students meet or exceed academic standards,” said Gorsuch-Plummer. “They know that the best thing for PES students is to have a predictable, emotionally safe routine and to be in school with their friends for five days per week.”
If you visit PES, you’ll notice the particular care that has gone into ensuring the health and safety of staff and students. Arrows and cones keep students on one side of the hallway as they move from classroom to classroom. Posters on the walls remind you of ways to stop germs from spreading. Classroom desks are spaced into neat grids and divided by partitions. And everyone is wearing a mask.
In the cafeteria, students like 5th grader Nick MacNeil and his friend Wyatt Byrd eat lunch from opposite ends of their table, separated by a plastic shield. Despite the new rules they must follow, MacNeil said he is happy to be back in school fulltime and able to see his friends. He would rather be in the classroom than learning from home.
“The kids are so happy to be back,” affirmed first grade teacher Donna Tardif. “We want to give kids as much normalcy as we can, even though these are not normal times.”
Although there can be no guarantee that fulltime in-person learning will last the rest of the year, Gorsuch-Plummer knows her staff can handle whatever the coming months present.
“I'm always proud to work with this dedicated group of professionals,” she said. “The teaching, learning, and resiliency I've witnessed the last few weeks have been jaw-dropping.”
Photo: 5th graders Wyatt Byrd (left) and Nick MacNeil (right) at lunch