The Lake Region School District Board of Directors voted unanimously Monday night to increase in-person instruction at all schools starting April 5.

All hybrid students – those who opted for a mix of in-person and remote instruction – will attend school in-person for four days during the weeks of April 5 and 12, and beginning April 26 will return for five full days of in-person instruction. Fridays April 9 and 16 will be remote.

“I’m not proposing anything that I think puts any staff … at greater safety risks,” Superintendent Al Smith said Monday night.

SAD 61 serves the towns of Bridgton, Casco, Naples and Sebago.

He told the board that 74% of the staff, or about 315 people, have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and of those staff members, 15% have received their second dose. A small number of staffers have made appointments for their first vaccine.

As of Wednesday, all school teachers and staff members, licensed child care workers and Mainers 50 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine. All residents 16 years and older will be eligible April 19.

Smith also said since March 2020, the district has had 18 students and 22 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 of approximately 2,000 students and 450 staff members.

“I was ready to propose this prior to the vaccinations,” Smith said. “I see the vaccinations as a wonderful boost.”

In a letter to parents Tuesday, Smith said all safety protocols, including distancing and masks, will remain in place. Fully remote students will continue learning from home, although students who wish to return to school can join a waiting list. Those students will be allowed to return as classroom capacity allows.

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