September 24, 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians,
The dedicated faculty and staff of Biddeford and Dayton School Departments have successfully reopened schools five (5) days a week, and continue their vigilant efforts to keep students and staff safe and healthy. The Delta variant of COVID poses the most significant threat to the collective health of those who learn and work in our schools. In an interview given to reporters last week, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah noted that the Delta variant of the virus seems to infect children at a higher rate than adults and that overall cases were at their highest rate since their previous peak in January.
We recognize people feel passionate about all manner of issues. But there’s one thing on which we can all agree: kids need to stay in school. Therefore, in the best interest of our school community I recommended, and the School Board approved:
Effective September 29th, all employees--inclusive of instructional personnel, food service workers, bus drivers, custodial and maintenance staff, and even athletics coaches--must provide proof of vaccination OR participate in mandatory pooled testing as a condition of employment.
This does not apply to students; however, we strongly encourage parents to have their child(ren) participate in pooled testing which begins on October 4th (consent information below).
While our communities would be among some of the first in Maine to issue this employment requirement, it is not without precedent. Several other states are requiring school employees to be vaccinated, and under President Biden’s most recent Executive actions to combat the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shall develop a rule requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated for COVID or produce a negative test result weekly. In Maine, this Emergency Temporary Standard would include public school systems. As a district, we prefer to be planful and implement a process in advance as we await the publishing of the exact rule, which will trigger a 30-day window before the requirement is enforced.
The health and safety of our students and staff is our number one priority. We believe this strategy can help promote public health, limit close contacts and quarantines, and identify potential cases and opportunities for community spread much earlier than in the past.
As we do each year, our district will be offering in-school Influenza (Flu) vaccine clinics for students next Wednesday and Thursday through Northern Light Health. As the majority of our students are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine (See PPH article about the potential release for children ages 5-11 as soon as next month), public health officials warn that if we have a severe flu season it could leave people more susceptible to COVID. Letters and permission forms were sent home from the School Nurses and a community-wide clinic for families may be offered at a later date. Please see the below information for school dates and consent links.
If you have any questions, please seek out our official communications avenues or ask for clarification.
Superintendent of Schools
POOLED TESTING TO START ON OCTOBER 4TH
We are planning to start Pooled Testing in ONE MORE WEEK (October 4th). If you would like your child to participate, please complete the consent form by Tuesday, September 28th so specific pools can be established by our nursing staff based on numbers per classroom/advisory. Parents who complete the consent form after this date, may have their child assigned a specific pool for testing to begin after October 11th as nurses evaluate pool numbers and assignments.
Consents are required to be enrolled in pooled testing (One Form Per Child). Individuals who participate in pooled testing are exempt from quarantine in the classroom, bus, sports, or other school-related activities should they be identified as a close contact.
*Staff should utilize a different link (see school email)*
Enter the Access Code specific to your child’s School:
Biddeford High School, COT, APC & Central Office: B8VTHG
Biddeford Middle School: QFR9CW
Biddeford Intermediate School & Transportation: 5U5KDT
Biddeford Primary School & SMAC: ANE1H2
John F. Kennedy School: 5B36J6
Dayton Consolidated School: ZAAG5M
Finally, enter your child’s information, and you’re done!
Parents may also contact the school directly if they require a printed form to be sent home.
IN-SCHOOL FLU VACCINE CLINICS
If you are interested in having your child vaccinated by Northern Light Health please complete this Health Screen and Permission Form by Monday, September 27th after reviewing the Flu Vaccine Information Sheet. The online link is through DocuSign. Enter your name and email, click the box in the upper right-hand screen to continue, and complete the form for your child. If you prefer to complete via paper form, you may print and send it into the school nurse.
Wednesday, September 29th
Dayton Consolidated School
John F. Kennedy School
Biddeford Middle School
Thursday, September 30th
Biddeford Primary School
Biddeford Intermediate School
Biddeford High School
Although the vaccine is provided at no charge, there is a cost to administer the vaccine (charged to your insurance plan, if insured). There will be no out-of-pocket cost to families. Please fill out the forms completely as children presenting with an incomplete form will not be able to receive their vaccine.
At this time, only injectable vaccines are being offered at these clinics. If you prefer your child receive the FluMist (nasal spray) vaccine, please call your healthcare provider directly. For more information about flu and the vaccine, visit www.maineflu.gov or call Maine CDC at 1-800-867-4775. For questions about the vaccine clinics at your child’s school, please call their school nurse.
SNACK ATTACK PROJECT
Thank you the Social Justice and Peace Commission of Good Shepherd Parish for their generous donation of over 1,000 snacks for our youngest students at John F. Kennedy School and Biddeford Primary School (pictured below)! During the month of August, parishioners donated pre-packaged, individually-wrapped snacks (granola bars, raisins, goldfish, various crackers, popcorn, etc.) to support the Backpack Program including snacks during the day for kids in need throughout Biddeford, Saco, Dayton, and Old Orchard Beach communities. Our students thank you for this generous and thoughtful contribution!
WE ARE AT RISK OF LOSING FUNDING - PLEASE COMPLETE!
MAKE AN IMPACT ON YOUTH IN YOUR COMMUNITY
As with many other school districts and businesses throughout Maine, we are experiencing a labor shortage among certain positions (specific to our district: bus drivers, substitutes, Ed Techs, and custodians). This shortage has been magnified by the rising competitive wages to attract employees, a lack of available child care options, and concerns around COVID-exposure. Yet, according to a recent New York Times article written by M.I.T. Economics Professor David Autor, many Americans are simply “deciding instead that more time on family, education, and leisure makes for a higher standard of living.”
Here is the good news! The open positions that schools offer not only fulfill the fundamental human need of significance (feel our lives have meaning and we are important) but also allow for a schedule that prioritizes more time for the areas noted above that improve your standard of living. For example, imagine a child’s face light up when an Ed Tech patiently guides a student through a task which ultimately enables them to read on their own or the impact a bus driver has on a child who struggles connecting with others as they consistently provide that smile for the first encounter of the child’s school day. This is what schools bring to the table in addition to school-year schedules and part-time or split schedules. We hope parents will consider applying for, or sharing with friends, the open positions we are trying to fill. Simply click below to apply or call the Superintendent’s Office and ask for Human Resources.