Despite resistance from some staff, parents, students and school board members, Freeport plans to bring high school students back for five days per week of in-person learning on April 5.

Superintendent Becky Foley made the decision, since the board decided in August to allow Foley discretion in moving school schedules between, remote, hybrid and full, in-person learning.

Amanda Myers, a nurse practitioner and the mother of two Regional School Unit 5 students, asked to delay the move until April 26.

“The way this information dribbled into the community of students, parents and staff elicited confusion and anxiety unnecessarily,” Myers told the school board Wednesday. “I want to ask you to pause, and ask yourselves, ‘why now?’ We are so close. In the context of a yearlong pandemic, we are mere weeks away from teachers and staff members having the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.”

Some teachers and students also raised objections.

“I think it’s going to be tough to maintain spacing in some of my bigger classes,” said Freeport High School senior Joe Les in the meeting. “Overall, I think it doesn’t make a lot of sense to tack this on at the end of the year.”


Les said that he was at initially opposed to going back in-person fully, but now could be in favor of postponing the return to April 26.

A survey sent out to teachers that asked which return date they preferred reported that 29% preferred April 5, whereas 71% preferred either a later date or did not wish to return fully in-person at all.

According to Foley, 31 students and 10 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in RSU 5, which serves Freeport, Pownal and Durham. This includes five new positive cases in students in the past 14 days and a staff member at Freeport High School who tested positive on Wednesday.

Foley said there has been no evidence of in-school transmission of the virus and a fully remote option will be available and continue through the end of the school year. 

“This is the only way to ensure equitable learning for all,” Foley said, noting that not all students have access to the same resources while learning remotely. “We know that we must look to the science and the epidemiologists about the safety of returning to school. They tell us it’s safe.”

“We have almost one in four students who are economically disadvantaged in RSU 5, we have others who are struggling with mental health challenges, others are struggling just from a lack of routine – hybrid is not working for them,” Foley said.


Foley stated that 35% of RSU 5 high schoolers are failing a class and 18 percent are failing two or more.

“We need them back five-days-a-week to best support them,” Foley added. “The less fortunate do not have the ability to weather the storm in the same manner as those with more.”

Board member Maddy Vertenten also spoke against some details of plan, specifically the rollout.

“We have undermined our staff and our own progress in the district by making a quick decision without input from multiple stakeholders and, as a board member, obviously I could not be more disappointed in us,” Vertenten said.

Vertenten said that she is in favor of returning the high school students to school five days a week but asked that it is pushed back to April 26 or May 3.

As of now, all pre-K through six graders in RSU 5 are back to fully in-person.


Currently at Durham Community School, seventh and eighth-graders are remote learning, due to a COVID-19 case. Foley said the plan is to have them back in-person next week.

On Thursday, the Portland Press Herald reported 218 new COVID-19 cases in Maine, with no new deaths.

According to the Maine CDC, there have been 49,190 COVID-19 cases in Maine, alongside 731 deaths.

In Cumberland County, there have been 13,692 reported cases and 185 deaths.

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