SCARBOROUGH — Scarborough students will attend classes remotely on Jan. 4 and 5.

Scarborough Superintendent of Schools Sanford Prince brought his intention of making this change to the school calendar to the attention of the School Board on Dec. 17.

This change allows students and staff, who are returning from winter vacation, to be able to notify schools if they were in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case or if they have tested positive for COVID-19. Secretaries and staff will not be able to answer phones during vacation, but can do so on remote days.

Assistant Superintendent Diane Nadeau said that administration looked at the change in terms of making sure that people who are supposed to be in school are, and people who are not supposed to be in school aren’t.

“We also have some concerns about whether by Jan. 4 will we have a number of staff who may be in quarantine by then,” she said.

Administration also had concerns about whether staff would be back from quarantine by Jan. 4, Nadeau said. If there are not enough staff members, then there would need to be an emergent remote day.

“If you look at the number of cases that we’ve had here in Scarborough, not unlike the larger community and region around us, our cases really have been on the uptick since after Thanksgiving break,” she said.

The decision to make a school day virtual or in-person falls under the superintendent, April Sither, board chair, said. However, board members gave their opinions on this change.

Board member Alicia Giftos said that input usually received about turning school days into remote days is negative. The change would mean more work for teachers who were not planning on having a remote day and not enough time for parents.

“To me, it’s adding a lot of chaos, taking away in-person instruction, and more than anything our kids need to be in school and we hear that over and over again,” she said.

Board member Leanne Kazilionis spoke in favor of the change.

“I totally respect that people want the children in school,” she said. “I believe it does benefit people to have the students in person, but it’s a short-term request for what may be a longer term solution to keep students in school longer.”

The board did not vote on this change, as the decision lies with the superintendent. The School board did approve a change that removes late start days through June 2 and makes Wednesdays into half days in the morning.

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