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Lewiston schools ask to waive the state's minimum school day requirement amid omicron surge

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Lewiston Public Schools
Lewiston High School

The Lewiston School Department will seek a waiver from state rules requiring that it be in session for 175 school days this year.

With COVID-19 cases causing staff shortages statewide, Lewiston Superintendent Jake Langlais said that he'd prefer to cancel school outright, if necessary, rather than switch to remote learning, as many students have struggled with unreliable devices, a lack of internet access, and have been disengaged while at home.

Langlais said he'll seek a waiver from the state's mandated 175 school days, so that the district can avoid having to stay in session through late June.

"We're not looking for a freebie," Langlais said. "We're looking to say, we're going to do everything we can to be in person. And if conditions are such that we cannot be in person, let's waive that day for this year, in the midst of the pandemic, and get back to work as soon as we can."

Langlais said that would offer students and staff a break in June, with the district still planning to offer targeted tutoring and remediation to help students catch up during the summer.

"I'd like to give them that bright spot, if we can get a waiver, to say, this will be your last day of school in June. Please enjoy your summer. We're going to focus on remediation for kids that have missed three full years of regular school," Langlais said.

On Monday night, the Lewiston School Committee approved Langlais' request to seek a waiver.

In an email, a DOE spokesperson said that a handful of schools have requested similar waivers this year. Minimum requirements for a waiver include creating a "continuity of learning" plan when students are at home, and for the school to follow safety and quarantining guidance from the state CDC.

The department said that it hopes districts use remote plans instead of requesting school day waivers