September 4, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians,
It would be an understatement to say this year’s return to school feels “like nailing jello to a wall!” Between weekly updates on state guidance, logistics around in-person and remote learning options, and transportation selection changing by the hour, our faculty and staff have been working around the clock to ensure a safe start to school that feels as “normal” as possible. As of this writing, the Maine DOE announced this hour that York County is designated yellow according to its Health Advisory System rating (red, yellow, green) due to the recent community transmission in parts of central York County. This equates to six (6) daily new cases per 100,000 people (7-day rolling average) in York County as mapped on The Path to Zero or a positivity rate three times above the state average (1.8% compared to 0.6%).
WHAT DOES A YELLOW DESIGNATION MEAN?
Knowing the possibility that York County could have additional cases throughout the school year and potentially change to yellow, we chose to implement a Return-to-School plan which met that criteria. We planned ahead and treated the return-to-school as if we’d be yellow all along. Therefore, a yellow designation does not change Biddeford or Dayton’s plans and we continue to welcome back students in a hybrid model and/or remote instruction. I applaud the Biddeford and Dayton School Department staff for remaining positive as even the simplest of tasks have multiple underlying logistics to execute, and I commend parents for exercising patience as we do our best to implement the thousands of details required for a safe return. Upon returning, we will follow the PreK-12 guidance from the Maine CDC around any known exposure in schools including isolation, quarantining, or closure. Click here for the full document.
SCHOOL START/ATTEND DATES & TIMES
We have received many questions on school start dates and times. Students will attend ONLY on the dates indicated on the chart below for a phased-in return to school. This phase-in will allow parents to get accustomed to the schools that exhibit new traffic flow patterns for drop-off/pick-up (videos to be included in Principals’ newsletters next Wednesday) and students to acclimate to the new procedures within each building with reduced congestion. Please review the below charts or click here for return to school dates and approximate school start times (subject to change slightly based on final bus transportation routes).
I sent out an Instant Alert email earlier this week stating if your child needed bus transportation then it had to be communicated by today. Bus routes ultimately affect school start times so we must finalize transportation needs in order to determine the bus stops, times, and number of runs required. Only children assigned a seat in advance will be allowed on the bus and NO ADDITIONS/CHANGES WILL BE ALLOWED FOR TWO (2) WEEKS upon return to school. This means if you do not indicate that your child needs to take the bus then we will not be able to accommodate them in an assigned seat until September 28th, and if you’ve made arrangements to have your child ride the bus then we will expect your child to occupy the assigned seat to ensure we adequately meet demand.
We understand this is a challenging time and difficult to make final decisions but we must have this information to move forward. Parents are trying to plan their schedules as we quickly approach the return to school next week, and we need to be mindful of utilizing tax dollars efficiently by avoiding empty buses/late arrivals. Approximate bus stops/times will be noted in the Infinite Campus Parent Portal by September 8th (Dayton will be September 4th). If you have previously called or emailed about your child riding the bus, you do NOT need to call again. Otherwise, please contact the Transportation Department 282-0909 or email email@example.com.
We want to assure parents and staff that we are taking adequate ventilation and air quality in our schools seriously. We have addressed any ventilation concerns through the installation of new windows and Rover units that utilize bipolar ionization technology, known as Cold Plasma Generator, to kill COVID and clean air safely while producing no harmful byproducts. For more information on this technology and the results, click here.
REQUIRED FORM TO RECEIVE FUNDS FOR FEEDING OUR YOUTH
We are asking ALL families to complete the Free and Reduced Meal Application regardless of eligibility. This information directly impacts school funding and we do not want any students to go hungry. This form must be completed each year and returned by all families. In order to receive funding to provide free and reduced breakfast and lunch to those in need, we MUST have the below information completed by October 1, 2020:
Complete Application Online: Click Here to Apply on Paypams Site
Complete Application On Paper: Click Here to Print & Submit to School
VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSES
All schools have set-up virtual open houses to give families and students a chance to meet their teacher(s) and hear some basic information about what to expect as we head into a new school year. Zoom links were sent out via Instant Alert email directly to parents.
PARENT Q&A MEETINGS WITH PRINCIPALS
Many parents have asked to view the parent Q&A meetings which occurred last week. Please find the links below to the recordings:
DEVICES FOR STUDENTS
Every student in the Biddeford and Dayton School Departments will be assigned a school-owned device for the 2020-2021 school year with the expectation that parents will be responsible for returning them in similar condition (device insurance cost details here). To prepare for unexpected circumstances or potential quarantines, we will be sending devices home each day for all students and they will need to bring them back the next day-charged.
Students opting for in-person instruction:
Devices will be assigned during the first week of school. Please do not come to the distribution dates below as your child’s device is at their school.
Students opting for 100% Remote Instruction & BHS Cohort B Students ONLY:
DAYTON students (PreK-5 only) may pick-up devices at Dayton Consolidated School on Wednesday, September 9th from 12-4pm.
BIDDEFORD students may pick-up devices at Biddeford High School on Wednesday, September 9th from 8am-6pm.
INFINITE CAMPUS PARENT PORTAL
Infinite Campus (IC) is the portal for parents and students to stay up-to-date on grades, assignments, attendance announcements, schedules and more. It is very important for parents to stay connected and activate their parent portal. If you have not yet set-up your Infinite Campus Parent Portal or need to make any edits to your information, please do so by clicking on the links below. Step-by-step instructions (apply to both Biddeford and Dayton) are available by clicking here.
BIDDEFORD ATHLETICS UPDATE
The Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) has delayed the start of the fall high school sports season by one week after the Maine DOE pushed back on the Association's athletics guidelines for fall. Among other concerns raised by the Department of Education, the MPA was asked to address its recommendations for face coverings, keeping spectators at sporting events 3 to 6 feet apart, and protocol if a student-athlete comes in contact with a person who is a confirmed positive for COVID-19.
On Wednesday, in a joint news release with the Maine School Boards Association, the Maine School Superintendents' Association and the Mills administration, the MPA agreed it would be best to extend the delay of fall sports by one additional week allowing schools to get their academic programs underway while MPA adjusts their guidance. Therefore, the MPA made a recommendation that practices begin no earlier than September 14, with contests to start no earlier than September 25. Athletic Director Dennis Walton is evaluating alternative plans so if the fall season looks materially different, we can work with our district physician, coaches, and athletic trainers to find organized physical activity of some kind to keep kids engaged.
We hope these communications are helpful; yet, understand there is a lot of information to digest so please continue to ask questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the school directly. We also have a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions document on our website at biddefordschools.me/health.
Superintendent of Schools