Just over a year after the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools in Maine, Mt. Ararat Middle School students in Grades 7 and 8 will return to the Topsham school fulltime on March 22, with Grade 6 to follow by April 5.

Megan Hayes Teague, the interim principal for the middle school, presented her reopening plan to the school board Thursday.

The school district has been hiring additional teachers to oversee more classrooms, allowing students to space out in the building and prevent the spread of COVID-19. One more sixth-grade teacher still needs to be hired, Hayes Teague said, which is why sixth graders are slated to return in April.

“There will be challenges,” Hayes Teague said. “Covering for staff when we are short staffed will be among the largest of them, but we are so excited to be able to return to some level of normalcy at our school.”

Hayes Teague said in the past week she has asked more than a dozen teachers to change classrooms,  regroup students and rewrite schedules.

“Change in the middle of a school year is really hard on everybody, and I have never witnessed a change this large at this point in the school year in all my time in education,” Hayes Teague said.


The school is still providing remote-only learning for students who have chosen that option. These students will keep the same six teachers they have had all year.

The middle school is part of Maine School Administrative District 75, which serves Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham. Students in the district have been attending school through a mix of remote learning and in-person learning since school began in September 2020. In December 2020, the school district began incrementally increasing in-person instruction in elementary schools, starting with the youngest students.

Interim Superintendent Robert Lucy told the school board he is working with principals and staff on trying to increase in-person learning from four to five days a week for the elementary schools. He said he hopes to have a plan by the school board’s next meeting on March 25.

Mt. Ararat High School students continue to attend school through a mix of in-person and remote learning.

Comments are not available on this story.