© 2022 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Portland Schools To Reopen In A Hybrid Model Despite ‘No Perfect Solution,’ School Board Rules

Tom Porter
Maine Public/file
The exterior of Portland High School, seen Dec. 20, 2012.

PORTLAND — A school year beginning with daily symptom checks, mandatory masks, 3-foot social distance guidelines and plenty of remote instruction is a go.The Portland school board unanimously passed a complex, comprehensive plan Wednesday to reopen public schools under a “yellow” hybrid model that involves remote and in-person instruction that varies by school and grade. The plan will begin Sep. 14, allowing instructors to adapt to the new system — which may change again with the state’s color-coded health advisory.

“I am convinced that this plan represents an innovative and effective system for delivering education that is informed by prevailing best practices and health and education. I think that’s the best we can do as a district,” said Anna Trevorrow, who voted in favor of the plan.

School officials and community members pored over details of the plan over a remote meeting spanning two evenings and nearly 13 hours. School board chair Roberto Rodriguez said the plan was “the right thing to do for our school district” but recognized that “it would not be the right thing to do for a lot of individuals.”

The district would operate in a hybrid status until early October, when they would transition students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade to a full return to classrooms and consider doing the same for teenagers — who are more at-risk of contamination — based on guidance from the Center for Disease Control according to the area spread of the virus.

The district can downgrade to “red” status, which would trigger full remote instruction, at any time, said superintendent Xavier Botana, adding that he felt it was “likely” that the district would be in remote mode at various times during the year.

Botana said he had “a bias” for returning students to in-person instruction, calling it “superior” to remote learning. The mental, emotional and developmental health concerns facing students in virtual settings outweighed the threat of the virus while statewide infection rates are low.