Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction

(updated 7/31/2020)

Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction

Maine’s Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction will be subject to ongoing development and will evolve as additional information and guidance is provided about the pandemic.

school books

This framework is intended to assist districts in the work of reintegrating back to in-person, classroom instruction. Informed by Maine CDC, international models, and examples from across the US, this framework includes six requirements for protecting health and safety and many additional ideas, recommendations, resources and strategies to support a successful return to in-person instruction. Funding is available through the State’s Coronavirus Relief Funds for SAUs, CTE regional programs, charter schools, and 60/40 town academies serving public school students to support implementation of the required safeguards and to address the extraordinary challenges of safely opening schools in the fall. We have developed Common Expectations for Hybrid and/or Remote Learning.  Each SAU’s Collaborative Planning Team, led by the superintendent, is responsible for the development and annual review of their Emergency Operations Plans. Your Collaborative Planning Team should include school nurses, administrators, educators, and representatives from transportation, food service, local emergency responders, and your local or regional community health experts. This team should work together to determine procedures for the safe reopening of schools in each district. It is important that plans include any applicable executive orders, state laws or local ordinances, required safeguards in Part I of this document, and the common expectations for hybrid and remote instruction.

6 Requirements for Safely Opening Schools in the Fall

  • Symptom Screening at Home Before Coming to School (for all Staff and Students) - Students (parents/caregivers) and staff members must conduct self-checks for symptoms prior to boarding buses or entering school buildings each day.  Schools should provide information to families in their primary language to support them in conducting this check.   Any person showing symptoms must report their symptoms and not be present at school.  Schools must provide clear and accessible directions to parents/caregivers and students for reporting symptoms and absences.
  • Physical Distancing and Facilities - Adults must maintain 6 feet of distance from others to the extent possible. Maintaining 3 feet of distance is acceptable between and among students when combined with the other measures outlined in this list of safety requirements.  6 feet of physical distancing is required for students while eating breakfast and lunch, as students will be unable to wear masks at that time.   A “medical isolation room” (separate from the nurse’s office) must be designated for students/staff who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms during the school day. Adequate ventilation is required for classrooms, with schools having flexibility in implementation such as using properly working ventilation systems or outdoor air exchange using fans in open windows or doors.Groups in any one area, room, or classroom must not exceed the Governor’s gathering size limits.
  • Masks/Face Coverings - Adults, including educators and staff, are required to wear a mask/face covering. Students age five and above are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth. (Updated 7/31/20) Masks are recommended for children ages two to four, when developmentally appropriate. (Updated 7/31/20).  Masks/face coverings must be worn by all students on the bus. Face shields may be an alternative for those students with medical, behavioral, or other challenges who are unable to wear masks/face coverings. The same applies to staff with medical or other health reasons for being unable to wear face coverings. Face shields worn in place of a face covering must extend below the chin and back to the ears.
  • Hand Hygiene - All students and staff in a school must receive training in proper hand hygiene. All students and staff must wash hands or use sanitizing gel upon entering the school, before and after eating, before and after donning or removing a face mask, after using the restroom, before and after use of playgrounds and shared equipment, and upon entering and exiting a school bus.
  • Personal Protective Equipment - Additional safety precautions are required for school nurses and/or any staff supporting students  in close proximity, when distance is not possible, or when student require physical assistance. These precautions must at a minimum include eye protection (e.g., face shield or goggles) and a mask/face covering. Classrooms and/or areas that have been used by an individual diagnosed with Covid-19 must be closed off until thorough cleaning and sanitization takes place. 
  • Return to School after Illness - Sick staff members and students must use home isolation until they meet criteria for returning to school.

View More Details in Part I of the Framework