CAPE ELIZABETH — The Cape Elizabeth School Board unanimously approved a hybrid plan for the 2020-2021 school year after district officials addressed safety concerns about ventilation in school buildings.

The plan will entail a part in-person, part remote-learning model, similar to what other districts in the region are employing. Under the plan, the district’s entire student body will be split in two and attend classes on alternate days.

The board also voted to accept the new calendar, which calls for an official start date of Sept. 21. The calendar also has Sept. 8-11 and Sept. 14-18 designated as “roll-in student days,” where students will return in small groups to get acclimated to the new hybrid schedule.

The Maine Department of Education has indicated that all districts in Cumberland County are at a low enough risk for the virus to allow full in-person instruction. As such, Superintendent Donna Wolfrom said, the state is not requiring the hybrid model she recommends, but the department is issuing certain guidelines for in-person learning, including social distancing, that would require most classrooms in the district to be only half full.

“We don’t have the space to divide all of our classes in half and have everyone in the building,” she said.

The School Board had delayed approving the plan due to inadequate ventilation in school buildings and wanted to ensure students could attend classes in person safely. At the Aug. 18 meeting Perry Schwarz, the district’s facilities director, said some changes had already been made. For example, he said, an old exhaust system on the second and third floors of the high school, which hadn’t been used since before he came to the district four years ago, has been repaired and can be turned on, which will help circulate air out of the building.

In addition, he said, the ventilation systems in all the school buildings, which normally only activate when there are people in the buildings, can now be run anytime. Schwarz said he doubted they will run all night, but can be on for a significant time before, during and after school to ensure even more air circulation than usual.

“The air quality in our schools is going to be better than it has been before,” he said.

Smita Sonti, the district physician, assured the board that the measures Schwarz was putting in place will make a difference.

“We’re really positioned well to offer the safest experience we can,” she said.

Board members said they were pleased with the new information.

“I feel satisfied that we’ve made the improvements necessary,” said Board Vice Chairwoman Kimberly Carr.

Elizabeth Yarrington, a representative for the Cape Elizabeth Education Association, said she was concerned that some teachers may be uncomfortable with being in the school building, but do not have the option to work at home.

“Staff members should be able to work remotely as well,” she said.

Resident Emily Garvin said the public needs to trust the guidelines set by the state and federal government, adding, “These people have done the work” to know what is and is not safe.

Gina Tapp, a parent of children in the district, reminded attendees that the disruptions caused by the pandemic were not permanent.

“It’s something we have to get through now,” she said. “It’s not going to be forever.”

No Cape students commented during the meeting and attempts to reach students through the district for reaction to the plan were unsuccessful.

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