BATH — Students in Brunswick and Regional School Units 1 and 5 will spend the remainder of the school year learning remotely.

“This is a very difficult and painful decision, but one that’s made in the best interest of the health and safety of our students, staff and families,” RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel wrote Thursday. “All of us want our students to return to school, but we need to do our part to avoid exposing anyone to unnecessary risk.”

Manuel wrote he understands the burden this extended remote learning plan places on parents and staff and encouraged families to reach out to staff members if they need assistance.

RSU 1 serves Bath, West Bath, Harpswell, Woolwich and Phippsburg.

Becky Foley, superintendent of RSU 5, announced in a memo Wednesday to students and families that remote learning for students will continue until the end of the academic year. She wrote the district is focused on providing meals to all students and ensuring students have internet access so they can do their work. RSU 5 serves Durham, Freeport and Pownal.

“We will continue to provide meals for students on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays every week, including during April vacation week,” Foley added.

Manuel said he hopes RSU 1’s graduation ceremony can take place at a later date but is unsure of whether that will happen.

Brunswick’s decision to close its facilities to students was promoted by discussions at the state level.

“Last evening, it was confirmed by the Commissioner of Education and the Governor, that remote/distance learning would be occurring for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year,” wrote Paul Perzanoski, Brunswick superintendent. “This would mean that our Continuous Learning Plan passed by the School Board last evening will be in effect until June 19, 2020.”

Brunswick’s food delivery service will continue at its current schedule until June 19, and a schedule for when students can retrieve their personal belongings from the buildings will be made, according to the memo.

Perzanoski said he is discussing possible alternatives to an in-person graduation ceremony, but no firm decision has been made. He said he will update families when those calls  have been made.

Linda Hall, chairwoman of Topsham-based School Administrative District 75, said the district is following the Department of Education’s recommendation but has not made any final decisions on closing school for the rest of the school year.

Both the Lisbon and Wiscasset school departments have not made the decision to close for the rest of the academic year, but both districts are preparing long-term remote learning plans.

The Wiscasset school committee will vote on a long-term remote learning plan when they meet next week, according to Stacy Souza, an Administrative Assistant in the Wiscasset school department.

On Tuesday, Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin recommended districts across the state stick with remote learning rather than try to reopen schools that were closed in mid-March, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Makin said Gov. Janet Mills based the recommendation on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which suggest large-group and in-person instruction be avoided for eight to 20 weeks once a region experiences community transmission of the coronavirus.

The CDC reported Maine’s positive coronavirus case count rose to 560 as of Thursday and 16 people had died of complications from COVID-19.

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