Op-ed: RSU 9 doing our best

4 mins read

The highly infectious COVID-19 Delta variant turned what was supposed to be an exciting “normal” start to the RSU 9 School Year into an opening filled with unexpected challenges. RSU 9 staff have been focused on delivering the best in-person educational experience we possibly can while keeping students and staff safe. In order to support these goals, universal masking in our school buildings and buses along with social distancing requirements were once again instituted with pool testing then introduced.

We are all frustrated that COVID is still with us and with some of the guidelines we must follow along with adjustments we must make, sometimes at a moment’s notice. RSU 9 is not implementing plans lightly and acts based on guidance from the same scientists and physicians who taught us how to cope with previous pandemics – chickenpox, mumps, rubella etc.

I need to point out that with all the difficulties we are facing in RSU 9, good things are happening! Our students continue to impress us as they tolerate and work with meeting the requirements that allow them to learn and be in school with their friends. They realize they need and want to be in school every day possible and are willing, just like our staff, to do what must be done to make school happen. Although not perfect and affected by quarantining at times, our students are once again taking part in extracurricular activities, sports and are in school full time almost 90% of the time overall these first two months. Our young people are great role models for staying positive while facing the many COVID-related challenges!

The measures we are taking to protect students and staff and the need for flexibility to meet changing circumstances are causing some concerns in our communities. We certainly understand this, especially given the different types of close contact (school, outside of school or athletic) are not as easily explained or understood. Our nurses and administrators work diligently to assess each situation when deciding if a student needs to quarantine. As concerns grow, some staff are being subjected to negative comments in direct conversations and on social media. As you can imagine this does not help us solve problems or make positive changes in battling the “true” enemy COVID-19.

In all areas of school life RSU 9 Staff are doing their best to remain flexible, learn from our mistakes and improve the 2021-2022 school experience for our students every chance we get. That is why it is important that concerns and questions are brought to the attention of RSU 9 Staff. I ask that we do this without anger or blame and we listen to each other so that we can improve communication, reduce confusion and problem-solve together. By continuing to work together, we will get farther, faster and reduce the likelihood of future misunderstandings. With parents, guardians and staff working together we will model for our students how to face these incredibly difficult situations as Mainers have done for centuries, through mutual respect and support of our neighbors! We are giving HOPE to our students by showing that the adults of today can work together to protect and watch out for them tomorrow!

Christian M. Elkington
Superintendent RSU 9

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