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UPDATED: Camden-Rockport, Five-Town, Union 69 district schools close due to coronavirus concerns

All grades, K-12 closed in Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville
By Susan Mustapich | Mar 15, 2020
Source: File photo Cancellations of in-state student travel to major events being issued daily, and impacting many high school students, including those at Camden Hills Regional High School, pictured here.

Camden — School closings from Monday, March 16, to the end of April school break were announced March 15 by Camden-Rockport and Five-Town school districts Superintendent Maria Libby.

Students began remote learning March 17. The district plans to deliver breakfast and lunch by bus to students whose families have a need for this service.

The last day of spring break is April 24, according to calendars for all three schools.

"It is abundantly clear to me that the only responsible decision I can make to help prevent and slow the spread of the virus is to close our schools," Libby said. She acknowledged that Maine Center for Disease Control has not yet recommended school closures.

Libby said she gathered information from many sources, heard from many in the community and has paid attention to the messages, mistakes, and lessons coming from China, Italy and France.

"Everything points to a closure sooner rather than later," she said. "I believe things will get worse before they get better, and I believe we will need an extended closure. If by some miracle we can return sooner, then I will adjust course."

The closures affect Camden-Rockport Elementary School and Camden-Rockport Middle School, which serve students in grades K-eight in those towns, and Camden Hills Regional High School, which serves students from Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville.

School Union 69

Superintendent Dianne Helprin said March 16 that the Appleton Village School, Hope Elementary School and Lincolnville Central School are closed March 16 through April 24, following the schedule of Camden-Rockport Schools.

Seventh- and eighth-grade students will take their laptops home with them, and teachers are making plans for younger students, she said. Helprin was to meet with principals from the three schools March 16, and will issue an announcement as soon as it is available.

Surrounding districts announce closures

Notice that Rockland area schools will be closed for an extended period was announced through an automated text message Sunday afternoon. Superintendent John McDonald said he did not have an estimate of when school will resume, and is following state guidelines. Provisions will be made to make meals available to students as well delivered to families. RSU 13 serves Rockland, Thomaston, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Cushing.

Regional School Unit 40, serving Waldoboro, Warren, Union, Friendship, and Washington, announced school closures for March 16 through April 17. Remote learning will be offered, and meals will be provided to students who want them, according to a statement from RSU 40 Superintendent Steve Nolan.

The Mid-Coast School of Technology also announced it is closed for all students as of March 16 following the consensus of the larger sending schools, RSU 13, RSU 40 and The Five-Town CSD.

Camden-Rockport and Five-Town CSD event cancellations

School closures in the district follow a week of announcements regarding cancellations of instate and out-of-state student trips and school events.

The district suspended all outside and public events, including a March gymnastics meet the high school was hosting, the middle school's musical James and the Giant Peach and holding the Pinewood Derby at the elementary school.

Planning for potential school closure was discussed in announcements last week. Libby had acknowledged closings would be economically and socially disruptive.and that it would be an incredibly difficult decision.

Camden HIlls Regional High School Principal Shawn Carlson let students and families know, in an email to the school community March 12, that all of the school's international and domestic trips have been cancelled or postponed.

"The situation is far too fluid for us to make any other decision and feel confident that we can protect the health and safety of our students and the larger community we live in," Carlson said.

He said the decision did not come easily, and acknowledged it had financial costs for those involved. The school is "working on plans to reschedule some trips in the future and recoup money where we can from airlines and other prepaid costs," he stated.

The Maine Band Directors concert band festival scheduled March 26 in Scarborough is cancelled, according to Camden Hills Band Director Nancy Rowe. Over 28 high school and middle school bands were scheduled to perform at the festival, according to the organization's Facebook page.

Rowe also announced the postponement of the high school's spring band concert, which she hopes will happen at a later date. The band concert was scheduled for April 7, and will be her last concert with the school band, as she plans to retire at the end June.

According to the organization's Facebook page, more than 28 high school and middle school bands were scheduled to perform at the festival.

The Maine Principals Association cancelled the One-Act Drama Festival, scheduled to take place March 20 and 21 at Oceanside High School and in Falmouth.

Tom Heath, CHRHS technology coordinator, is also Drama Festival coordinator this year. He said he got word from the Maine Principals Association at 1 p.m. March 11, and passed the message on to the other directors who were scheduled to participate in the state festivals. The high school had early dismissal that day, Heath said, he just managed to catch his students before the 1:15 p.m. dismissal and tell them.

At the regional One-Act competition March 8, first place, Class A went to Camden Hills Regional High School for "A Matter of Heritage" by Jon Lowe, and first place, Class B went to Oceanside High School for "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," an original adaptation from a Norwegian folktale.

Both Camden Hills and Oceanside qualified for the statewide competition March 20 and 21, where nine schools in each class were to compete for top honors.

Libby's announcements to parents about measures to deal with coronavirus began March 9.

In that email that day, she announced that out-of-state student travel and staff professional development is cancelled at least until spring break in April. These cancellations include a student trip to a regional Comic Con event in Massachusetts March 13-15. Announcements regarding instate student travel cancellations began to be issued March 11.

This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Mar 16, 2020 12:38

Kudos to all who are trying to preserve the community with caution!

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