The up-Island school committee voted Tuesday to approve the public school re-opening plan currently on the table, with two district-specific amendments. The vote marks a turning point in a protracted, Islandwide reopening debate, as the up-Island district formally breaks with the others to format its own plan.

Also Tuesday the committee voted to hire a full-time nurse for the Chilmark School.

Under a reopening plan approved by the all-Island school committee at a meeting last Thursday, students in grades K-4 will be phased back into the classroom four days a week, beginning early this fall. Student 5-8 will return to the classroom only once per week, starting in late October. Under the plan, Chilmark and West Tisbury students in grade 5 would also return four times a week.

The plan won the backing of the Edgartown and Tisbury school committees and will be voted on by the Oak Bluffs school committee this Thursday. But the proposal was met with hesitation from members of the up-Island committee, who put off voting until their next meeting.

At that meeting Tuesday, up-Island committee member Robert Lionette proposed three amendments to the re-opening plan that he said fit the specific needs of the up-Island community.

Two passed, although not without debate, while a third amendment failed.

The first and most substantial amendment will bring students in grades 6-8 back into classrooms on a twice-weekly basis in West Tisbury (Chilmark has no middle school). Committee chairman Alex Salop voiced support for the amendment, saying the West Tisbury School has ample space to safely accommodate the additional students in its middle school wing.

But school principal Donna Lowell-Bettencourt pushed back.

Amendment aside, under the most recent reopening plan, the West Tisbury will likely not have enough teachers to staff the many small pods of six to eight students who would be returning one day a week, Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt told the committee. “When I break those classes into other sections to create smaller classes for the space, I run out of teaching staff,” she said.

Depending on final enrollment, Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt said she expects to work with the health and wellness committee to adopt a cohort model for upper-grade students. The amendment would only increase the number of students in the building at one time, she said.

Schools superintendent Dr. Matthew D’Andrea echoed the concern, suggesting the amendment would go against the health and wellness committee’s recommendations.

“This plan has gone through many layers of vetting,” he said, exhorting the committee not to break with the other Island schools. “I caution this committee not to stray from that recommendation and make a unilateral decision.”

Mr. D’Andrea was joined by committee member Kate DeVane, who opposed the amendment, as well as by parents and community members who voiced a litany of concerns about the proposal.

But in the end the committee passed the amendment 3-2, with Ms. DeVane and committee member Skipper Manter voting nay.

Mr. Lionette’s second amendment calls for weekly dashboard tracking caseloads in each school district to be sent to public health officials to track infection rates. Mr. Lionette recommended the superintendent use the Massachusetts education commissioner’s dashboard.

Mr. D’Andrea agreed to the measure, but Chilmark board of health member Matt Poole cautioned against tracking cases on the district level rather than assessing cases on the Islandwide level.

The amendment passed 4-1. Ms. DeVane was once again the lone dissenter.

Mr. Lionette’s third amendment proposed a weekly up-Island committee meeting to reassess the school’s re-opening with available virus information, but the motion failed, receiving support only from Mr. Lionette and Mr. Manter.

Closing out the discussion, the committee voted to approve the amended reopening plan, passing the motion unanimously.

“Whatever we do is going to be contingent upon the approval of the people who run our schools,” said Mr. Salop in conclusion. “The plan here is simply to put together a plan that’s in the best interest of our kids.”

In other related business, the committee voted on a proposal long on the floor to hire a full-time nurse at the Chilmark School.

The proposal, raised in multiple school committee and Chilmark selectmen’s meetings over the past month, has stalled as committee members worried about where the money would come from to pay for the position.

Avoiding further controversy, Mr. Lionette moved to approve hiring a nurse, with revenue sources to be approved at a later date. The motion passed unanimously.

“We will figure it out,” Mr. Lionette promised.