The Mills' Administration announced on Friday new steps being taken to support Maine school systems as they make decisions about their future plans.

Educational administrators around the state are working to decide whether to continue with distance learning or whether to allow students back into the classrooms in the fall. And, if they do bring the students back, how do they keep them safe? It's complicated enough, but the increased costs of making healthy modifications make it all the more daunting.

So, Gov. Janet Mills announced on Friday that the Maine Department of Education, in partnership with the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its 'Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction,' to include health and safety precautions.

All schools will be required to follow these guidelines if they decide to return to in-classroom instruction in order to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff. Those guidelines will be supported by up to $165 million in Federal CARES Act funding that the governor has authorized to be allocated to the schools.

The guidelines include:

  1. Symptom screenings before coming to school.
  2. Physical distancing within school facilities.
  3. Wearing face coverings.
  4. Practicing proper hand hygiene.
  5. Wearing personal protective equipment when in close proximity to students.
  6. Remaining isolated at home if sick until meeting criteria to return to school.

The funding for schools came on the same day Mills announced $8.4 million in additional CARES ACT funding will be given to childcare providers to offset the higher cost of caring for children due to COVID-19. Currently, more than 80 percent of childcare providers are operating, as opposed to only about 50 percent in April.

"We will follow the best available science to support our colleagues at the Maine Department of Education and local school districts as they take steps to educate Maine students safely and effectively," said Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. "Science has guided our response to the pandemic, and it will continue to do so as Maine prepares for a new school year."

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