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Breaking News - Update from RSU # 71

posted Oct 23, 2020, 11:18 AM by Bruce Bailey

October 23, 2020

Dear RSU 71 Students, Families, Staff, School Board and Community Members, 

I write again today to share the news that due to the coronavirus outbreak in Brooks, Maine, the state has changed our color-coded designation from GREEN to YELLOW. This news changes the recommended status of our schools in RSU 71. 

I visited each of our K-8 schools today and had tears of joy and deep respect in my eyes and love in my heart as I witnessed our students’ and teachers’ genuinely outstanding work in action. Students are continuing to do a FABULOUS job working hard, learning lots, and teachers are engaging them in rigorous and inspiring learning. So it indeed grieves my heart to share the specifics of we will need to do in response to the coronavirus outbreak in Waldo County. 

BAHS -  This high school is already in the yellow/hybrid plan and will continue to be so. When a county is coded yellow, all sports and co-curricular activities are suspended. Fortunately, our student-athletes have been involved in sports for many weeks and months. The administration will work diligently to create intramural activities using the swimming pool, the weight room, the gym, and playing fields. The high school musical can go on next weekend -- the show must go on! -- but outside and for family members only.

THMS - The middle school is prepared to move to the yellow/hybrid phase of our plan beginning Monday, October 26. The administration will be in touch with families over the weekend.

K-5 Schools (except for Ames Elementary) - CASS, East Belfast, Nickerson, and Weymouth will begin the yellow phase of our plan on Tuesday, October 27. We need a day to get 1:1 devices to our families and photocopy and prepare packets for families to pick up. Ames Elementary will stay in the red/remote phase of our plans and reopen for in-person instruction in the yellow phase on Monday, November 2. Ames teachers have all been in school and teaching remotely from their classrooms throughout this period of required quarantine, with a 95% student participation attendance rate.

Food Service - Beginning Monday, October 26, free meals will be available for all students. Families can pick them up at their respective schools or can stop by the school closest to home.

K-5 Special Education - In a few exceptional cases, students in self-contained classrooms may be able to come to school four of the five days of the week, beginning Tuesday, October 27. Special education staff will be in touch with families.

Finally, I wish to share the truth that there are two additional cases in RSU 71 that the Maine Center for Disease Control and our school nurses are investigating.

Please feel free to be in touch with me, school nurses, and administrators.

Mary Alice

Mary Alice McLean
Superintendent of Schools, RSU 71
(207) 338 - 1960

Weekly Update from RSU 71 - 10/22

posted Oct 22, 2020, 12:49 PM by Bruce Bailey   [ updated Oct 22, 2020, 12:52 PM ]

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Dear RSU 71 Students, Families, Staff, School Board and Community Members, 

I’m sending this “weekly update” out a day early this week. It will be Robo-emailed to our families and posted on the district website and my blog as well.

Good News and Information about Decision-Making: The presumed positive case at THMS came back negative. CDC says we must treat a "presumed positive" as a positive until we have the test in hand. The timeline for testing appears to be related to where the test is given and how long it takes the tester to get the CDC results. We have asked CDC if we can have testers send the results straight to the school system in addition to the CDC, but they have said it isn't possible. Health-care providers are challenged enough to get the results to CDC in a timely way. CDC is looking at getting a speedier testing site "in the field" of Waldo County to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Brooks.


I am very keenly aware of these decisions' impact on students, families, staff, school board members, and the larger community. We are trying to balance the desire to keep everything going smoothly and our students in school to the extent possible while also firmly following the CDC's science, guidelines, and requirements. Safety needs to continue to be our top priority. We all sincerely appreciate the forbearance, understanding, and flexibility shown in our community in response to this volatile and rapidly changing landscape. We understand, too, the emotional roller-coaster set in motion by news of a positive or presumed positive case. In the presumed positive case at THMS, we had thought it was a confirmed positive rather than a presumed positive. I will be sure to be more definitive and ask for additional clarification in future communication with the CDC.


Reminder about our Yellow and Red Plans - We all hope that tomorrow doesn’t bring news of our Waldo County status being changed from “green” to “yellow.” Just in case it does, I include here a link (click the blue link below) to our RSU 71 K-12 Instructional Expectations Framework.

As always, please feel free to be in touch with me, nurses, and administrators with questions and feedback.


Mary Alice



Mary Alice McLean
Superintendent of Schools, RSU 71
(207) 338 - 1960

THMS Hybrid Learning Plan

posted Oct 22, 2020, 12:47 PM by Bruce Bailey

THMS Remote Learning Plan

posted Oct 22, 2020, 12:44 PM by Bruce Bailey

Important Update from RSU 71 about the Presumed Positive Case at THMS

posted Oct 22, 2020, 6:12 AM by Bruce Bailey

October 22, 2020

Dear Troy Howard Middle School Students, Families, and Staff,

We received some great news from the CDC this morning.  The presumed positive case of COVID-19 at Troy Howard Middle School has tested negative!  The CDC has said that we may release those individuals that were identified as closed contacts from quarantine.  We are ready to welcome those individuals back to school tomorrow.  

Please continue to do the things that are making a difference in the mitigation of COVID-19:  wear a mask, maintain 6 foot distancing, wash your hands frequently, stay home if you are not feeling well and get outdoors as often as possible.     

We thank each of you for your continued patience and support as we face this pandemic together.  These are trying times for sure but together we are strong.

Robyn Mailloux, THMS School Nurse

Bruce Bailey, THMS Principal

Alta Seekins, THMS Assistant Principal/Athletic Director

Halloween Programs for Kids & Teens at the Belfast Free Library

posted Oct 21, 2020, 2:13 PM by Bruce Bailey

Join the Belfast Free Library for safely-distanced outdoor Halloween programs for families, kids, and teens this month. Decorate-your-own fabric Halloween bags, featuring designs for both young kids and teens, will be available at the library on Tuesday, October 27th from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. Library patrons are invited to pick up a bag in the lobby to decorate at home or sit on the library plaza to color bags with fabric markers. The rain date for this event is Thursday, October 29 (1:00 – 4:00 pm). Following the program, bags will be available on the children’s floor while supplies last.  


The library, in coordination with Belfast Parks and Recreation, will host a Halloween StoryWalk on Friday October 30 and Saturday, October 31. A StoryWalk is a marked trail featuring pages of a storybook posted on signboards along the route. StoryWalks were designed as a way to inspire parents, teachers, and caregivers to take young children outdoors and to enjoy reading stories together. Walking the trail while sharing a storybook promotes childhood literacy as well as outdoor activity for all ages.


Starting at the Belfast Boathouse, the StoryWalk trail will make a loop by the water and back along the upper walk. The trail is self-paced and will be open anytime from Friday at 10:00am through sunset on Saturday. Special give-aways will be available on Friday 10:00 – noon.


All library programs are free and open to the public. For more information contact 207-338-3884 ext. 24.

Erica Rubin Irish
Youth Services Librarian
Belfast Free Library
207-338-3884 ext. 24

We look forward to welcoming our students back tomorrow!

posted Oct 20, 2020, 1:35 PM by Bruce Bailey   [ updated Oct 20, 2020, 1:36 PM ]

Our building has received a thorough cleaning and sanitizing with the help of ServPro contractors working with our custodial staff and we are on track to resume school tomorrow morning. Students who will be in quarantine - your teachers are ready to meet with you virtually at your regularly scheduled time through the link in your Google Classrooms. We also want you to know that we are updating and finalizing our plans for hybrid or remote learning should we need to make a shift. We will be sharing those plans on our school webpage in the next couple days.

Update from RSU 71 - Good News!

posted Oct 20, 2020, 1:27 PM by Bruce Bailey   [ updated Oct 20, 2020, 1:27 PM ]

Greetings RSU 71 Students, Families, Staff, School Board and Community, 

I am relieved to report that the second test of yesterday's presumed positive case at the Captain Albert Stevens School has again come back negative.

Other good news is that the primary contacts of positive cases at Troy Howard Middle School, CASS, and Ames have also so far tested negative.

Please keep wearing those masks, staying at a safe social distance from everyone, and sanitizing your hands. Surely these things have had a role in mitigating the spread of the coronavirus. 

Gratefully and appreciatively,   

Mary Alice McLean
Superintendent of Schools, RSU 71
(207) 338 - 1960

Superintendent's Update - Monday 10/19

posted Oct 19, 2020, 11:03 AM by Bruce Bailey

Monday, October 19, 2020

Dear RSU 71 Students, Families, Staff, School Board and Community Members, 

I write to share news about a second case -- a presumed positive -- at the Captain Albert School Stevens School, the fourth case in RSU 71. On the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation, we released CASS students and staff at 12:30 pm today and will stay closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The tentative plan is for everyone at CASS not in quarantine to return to CASS on Thursday, October 22; this could change if there are other positive or presumed positive cases.

As you probably know from local news reports, there has been an outbreak of COVID-19 in Brooks, and it appears that the positive cases in our school district are related to that outbreak. I’ve received questions about why the different cases in RSU 71 have occasioned different timelines and responses. The answer is that we have stayed in very close contact with the CDC,  are using their definition of close contact, and following their recommendations to the letter. A person is a close contact if they have been within six feet of the infected individual for 15 minutes or longer. Thus the handling of each case depends on the close contacts of the positive or presumed positive case. CDC recommends against a blanket approach that would exclude secondary contacts and swathes of buildings unrelated to a positive case.

While we wish for students and staff to stay for in-person instruction and activities whenever we may safely do so, we also want to be extremely careful and cautious in response to this virulent virus. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of each member of our community. All close contacts to each case in our school district have been contacted, including Unified Arts teachers and specialists in the areas of Speech and Language, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak in Waldo County, we have made the difficult decision to suspend athletic and co-curricular activities for the remainder of the week. Student-athletes at Belfast Area High School have been immersed in various sports for the past fifteen weeks, since July 6. The fall season formally ends on November 14, and we very much hope to get back to practices and competitions next week. We will reschedule other events planned for this week, including the fall musical, jazz band, and National Honor Society.

I implore each member of our community to take this dastardly pandemic seriously.  It is invisible but real and potentially deadly, a covert and subversive virus that would have us keep our students from getting the education they so richly deserve. Students and staff have been simply superb about following all safety protocols while in school, but all of us also need to follow these protocols when not in school. Wear a face mask. Maintain safe social distance, even from the friends and relatives you love. Practice hand hygiene, wash your hands with soap and warm water at every opportunity and use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

As always, please feel free to be in touch with me, school nurses, and administrators. Sending well wishes and fervent hopes for the speedy recovery of all infected and affected by COVID-19, 

- Mary Alice

Mary Alice McLean
Superintendent of Schools, RSU 71
(207) 338 - 1960

THMS will be closed Monday and Tuesday and reopening to in-person learning on Wednesday 10/21.

posted Oct 18, 2020, 11:32 AM by Bruce Bailey   [ updated Oct 18, 2020, 11:33 AM ]

Remote learners should continue to log into classes as usual. Please read the update from Superintendent McLean (below) for more information.

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