News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 3, 2020
School sports still on hold
CSD decides to wait for word from Augusta

Elementary School Class

This Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School kindergarten classroom is ready for learning, with the floor marked for six-feet social distancing. Desks have shields and all paper has been laminated.

Photo courtesy of Tara McKechnie

by Leslie Landrigan

Community School District Board members at their September 1 meeting decided to stick with its ban on contact sports in the fall, even though the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) gave the okay to all sports, including soccer and football.

That may change, however, depending on how the MPA responds to pressure from the state to tighten its guidelines on sports.

Before the CSD meeting started, Maine’s top public health and education officials rebuked the MPA in a letter. Education Commissioner Pender Makin and Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew wrote that public health experts advised ignoring the MPA’s guidance. Returning to fall sports “poses a risk of spreading COVID-19 across the state, within schools, and to vulnerable people within communities,” they wrote.

School Union 76 Superintendent Chris Elkington advised the board to ignore the MPA guidelines. “I believe their info is based more on parent and community pressure than a correct reading of the science,” he wrote in a memo.

The CSD will wait to see how the MPA responds to the state, Elkington said after the meeting. “There’s not much we can do because you have to see what the MPA is going to do.” It’s likely, he said, that the CSD will hold another meeting next week to discuss the issue.

In other school news

About a quarter of Deer Isle-Stonington school students will learn remotely, Elkington said.

Elementary School Principal Tara McKechnie said there will be 159 students in the classroom and 35 remote learners. Two will do hybrid learning—part remote and part in the classroom—and 16 will home school. One student is still undecided.

The high school will orient the student body to the new safety policies in two separate groups on two separate days. The 8th and 9th grade students will start on September 8 and take the next day off. Students in the other three grades will start on September 9.

Also on September 1, the federal government approved an extension of the summer food program through December 31.