SULLIVAN — The Regional School Unit 24 (RSU 24) Board of Directors unanimously approved the district’s updated COVID-19 back-to-school plan Tuesday, which encompassed its virtual learning proposal.
Board member Janet Wilpan was absent from the meeting.
The virtual learning plan was developed following the board’s Aug. 30 meeting, in which the board voted to make mask-wearing within the district optional and directed RSU 24 Superintendent Michael Eastman to develop a remote learning plan for students who do not feel safe attending school in person when masks are not mandated.
RSU 24 Director of Curriculum Nikki Chan presented the plan. She said it was developed in part to avoid hybrid learning, where teachers instruct students in person and those tuning in remotely. She said the hybrid learning models used during the last school year caused high levels of anxiety for teachers who had to deal with its technical problems.
She also explained the district’s desire to make sure students who choose the remote option still feel part of their schools and know they are welcome to participate in school functions and activities.
Chan said remote students would work with a liaison at their individual schools to remain part of the school community and not fall through educational cracks.
Students enrolled in the remote learning plan will be enrolled in EdOptions Academy, remote schooling taught by Maine certified teachers, Chan explained.
Students will enroll in long-term plans for one or two semesters and will study four core subject classes and two electives using a device provided by the district.
Supplies needed for certain projects will also be provided by RSU 24.
The cost of the program is $1,600 per student for one semester and $3,000 when students sign up for the whole year.
Chan estimated that about 20 families in the district would utilize the plan.
Funding for the program is provided by a third round of federal COVID assistance called Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER).