Administrators at Thornton Academy, and in Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach and Saco public schools are formulating plans for classes in September. Portland Press Herald file photo

Biddeford, RSU 23 and Saco schools along with Thornton Academy are looking to return to a five-day, in-classroom school week this fall.

Thornton Academy, which serves as the public high school in Saco, announced plans last week through a letter to families from Headmaster Rene Menard.

Jeremy Ray, who serves as superintendent in Biddeford and as the interim superintendent for Saco’s public schools, outlined brief highlights of the Saco plan in a recent presentation to the Saco School Board. The plan for Biddeford schools was made available in April.

At TA, Menard said the school is exploring ways to adhere to guidance from the Maine CDC that requires three feet between students in the classroom and six feet when eating lunch.

“To make our plan possible, we are exploring creative ways to utilize our existing classroom and ancillary spaces on campus,” Menard said in his letter to families. “While creativity and flexibility are important to allowing all students to return to five days of in-person instruction, we are committed to keeping every student here, on campus, to minimize disruption to the traditional academic day.”

In the last month, the school has become eligible for coronavirus relief funds that may be used to make necessary changes to existing classroom set ups and add temporary additional space to the campus, Menard said.

In Biddeford, the Unified Re-opening Plan for fall 2021 outlines how the School Department expects to facilitate a full, five-day, in classroom experience. In the plan, Ray said he endorses continuance of the Residency Educational Experience program — a year-long student teacher internship — in partnership with the University of Southern Maine and the University of New England, for PreK to grade seven, to keep classes small. Interns will be paid through federal pandemic funding to schools.

“The proposal considers everything from furniture to food service, busing to band, scheduling to staffing,” Ray said. “The administrative team has worked hard to consider every detail — every nook and cranny of every building — to ensure a full time, day-one opening in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

At an April meeting, Biddeford School Committee members said they were comfortable with the plan, indicating if changes became necessary, they would review them at a later date.

In Biddeford, Pre-K and Kindergarten will be housed at John F. Kennedy Memorial School; grades one and two will be at Biddeford Primary School; grades three and four at Biddeford Intermediate School; grades five through seven and the grade seven and eight STEM Academy at Biddeford Middle School; and grades eight through twelve at Biddeford High School for the 2021-22 school year.

The report to Biddeford noted if current Maine CDC guidelines stay the same, families will be asked to pitch in with transporting their children to school.

In the Saco presentation, Ray wrote that the School Department believes it can maintain grade level configurations with few, if any teachers or students relocated to other spaces. The plan calls for minor interior renovations at Young, Fairfield and C.K. Burns schools.

“In looking towards the fall, I can confidently state that with increased vaccinations, we can move toward our normal five-day-a-week, in-person schedule,” said RSU 23 Superintendent John Suttie in Old Orchard Beach in a memo to families. “Of course, we will take our time to determine where our state and nation stand as we continue to monitor changes in the virus, along with the different strains that emerge. We will make a final decision for next year over the summer.”

Comments are not available on this story.