Preston students return to school without COVID-19 restrictions
Preston ― Students returned to school Monday at the Preston Plains Middle School and Preston Veterans’ Memorial School with several new things for the 2022-23 school year.
COVID-19 mitigation strategies ’greatly relaxed’
Superintendent Roy Seitsinger said he looks forward to the full return of all in-school and after-school activities, with COVID-19 protocols “greatly relaxed.” Preston schools started reintroducing after-school clubs last school year. Starting this year, he said, all clubs and usual seasonal and year-round activities are back.
Bus swipe cards for middle school students
Preston, which still runs its own bus fleet, will start a new bus safety program this year with swipe cards for students as they board and get off school buses. The program will start with middle school students. Students will swipe their cards as they board the bus, allowing school officials to track how many students ride each bus and where and when they board. Seitsinger said the system will help the school district manage bus routes during the ongoing shortage of bus drivers. Bus routes already have been altered due to the shortage.
Once the bus tracking software is fully implemented, parents will be able to download an app and track their children’s bus route to know if the bus is on time and when the students should get to school or home.
“We’re thinking about it for bus safety, rural roads, storms, but it just enhances all our bus safety features,” Seitsinger said.
10 new staff members
Over the past three school years, Preston’s two schools have seen about a 30% staff changeover, Seitsinger said, unusual for the small district. There are 10 new staff this year, giving the district “an excellent group of veterans and new staff,” Seitsinger said. He quickly added: “We are still looking for bus drivers.”
Accreditation sought for preschool program
Preston will begin the process this year to obtain national accreditation for the preschool program through the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The process can take up to two years. Seitsinger said he wanted to start this two years ago, but the process was interrupted by COVID-19. Preston has three preschool classes this year. Teachers, Principal Ray Bernier and the regional education agency, LEARN, will lead the process and will seek parental input as it progresses.
Work on new five-year strategic plan to start in October
The Preston school district will start work in October on the new five-year strategic plan for 2023-28 school years. The plan will include school data such as enrollment and test scores, include the district’s plan for technology upgrades and educational strategies.
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