March 20, 2020 (2:00 PM)
SCHOOL CLOSURE * PLANNING * FOOD DISTRIBUTION CHANGES
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
I know many of us are on information overload and already experiencing Coronavirus news fatigue. Moving forward, I have decided to send out weekly communications, instead of daily, and Principals will connect directly with families as well. Those seeking more information can visit our comprehensive website anytime, or stay tuned to our social media channels.
Governor Mills issued an Executive Order intended to blunt the impact of COVID-19 on Maine Citizens. The New York Times reported Thursday that the outbreak’s hospitalized victims skewed younger than once thought, and the Maine CDC and Governor have taken urgent steps to stem the tide of this pernicious public health menace. The directive applies uniformly across the state and includes strict limits on, among other things, shared public space.
What does that mean for schools?
Given this emergency legislation, and confirmed cases immediately to our north and south, we simply don't see a way to safely convene students and staff in a shared space. Indeed, some of our neighboring schools are currently grappling with confirmed cases; therefore we have made the decision to keep schools closed until after the upcoming school vacation--April 27th. We are working directly with some York and Cumberland County Superintendents and collaborating with the Maine Department of Education on the implications of that extension.
We know this presents an enormous challenge for our families in regards to child care, distance learning, and more. We continue to work on extended learning plans, internet and laptop access, as well as collaboration with MaineHealth on a plan for childcare specific to essential healthcare personnel.
This unprecedented situation is new to all of us, and the one thing we have some modicum of control over is improving the distance learning experience through alignment of expectations and a consistent framework for everything from content to assessment, communication to grading. Our teachers have made valiant efforts navigating these uncharted waters, but they also need time to disconnect and collaborate with their colleagues to learn and plan for this extended closure. To better serve our students long-term, teachers will be in a virtual training from 8 am - Noon on Tuesday morning, March 24th and will be available to students in the afternoon.
Food Distribution Changes
Changes have been made for the week of Monday, March 23-Friday, March 27 to better meet the needs of our families. We are still waiting on an official waiver by the USDA for delivery but felt it prudent to move forward with this action regardless as many families do not have access to transportation. Lunch and breakfast will be provided to all youth 18 and under:
ONE curbside distribution site at Biddeford Middle School from 10:30am-12:00pm. All previous community sites have been discontinued.
Four bus routes with 60+ stops will be delivering meals to students in our community. To access meals, simply be present at the bus stop at the designated time shown on the bus schedule.
Remains curbside distribution at Dayton Consolidated School from 9:30-11:30am
ALL Dayton youth 18 and under, regardless of school affiliation, are eligible.
In addition to our food distribution for youth 18 and under, we are working to gather local resources on one document for those in need of assistance with food, housing and more. The United Way of York County, Tom’s of Maine and many other local businesses are reaching out to us to provide help. We hope to share this on www.biddefordschools.me/health in the coming days.
Social Distancing - Heed Experts’ Advice
Many parents and staff are concerned that some in the community may not understand the call for “social distancing.” There is a sense that students are gathering in groups, holding playdates and sleepovers, roaming the neighborhood, etc. Health officials throughout the country are telling us to cease gathering with others, and we should heed their advice. Please join me in practicing social distancing and expecting that our children will, as well. To read more about “flattening the curve” and the need to practice social distancing, please see a recent article written by Dr. Asaf Bitton’s: “Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day.”
Superintendent of Schools