April 2, 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians,
It was an exciting start to the week as I passed Biddeford High School (BHS) students coming into the building prepared for their return to four days of in-person instruction. It was refreshing to see many “smiling eyes” as they came upon their friends and would resume some normalcy to their schedules. In education as in life, sometimes you take two steps forward and one back. If you’re a grade 8-12 parent, you know we experienced an unexpected failure of our mechanical system at BHS and had to move to remote learning on Friday. We are working with our maintenance staff and outside contractors to get all of our systems operational quickly and safely and will send an update to families on Sunday evening.
Now, let’s move on to the POSITIVE NEWS!
COVID VACCINE: Governor Mills announced yesterday that all Maine residents age 16 and older will be eligible to receive their COVID vaccine starting next Wednesday, April 7th. I urge all parents to read the full news release (linked here) and pre-register at vaccinateME.maine.gov or by calling the Maine COVID-19 Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.
CLOSE CONTACTS: This week the Maine CDC and DOE released updated Standard Operating Procedures around required quarantine for close contacts. The biggest change is that schools no longer must quarantine an entire classroom if assigned seating is in place. Instead, only those students within a six-foot radius of the COVID-positive individual (12-foot radius if masks are removed for more than 15 minutes, such as lunchtime) must quarantine. Our Administrators are currently evaluating the changes to determine if we are able to implement them consistently and establish safe tracking protocols but we are hopeful this is a step in the right direction to keep more students in school.
MOBILE APP COMING SOON: The Biddeford and Dayton School Departments will soon have a mobile app and a new website look. When we surveyed families at the start of the pandemic, we heard loud and clear that most parents and students are accessing information via phones or tablets. Our mobile app will allow parents to choose the school(s) they would like to get notifications from, see the dining menu quickly, access the live feed, news, important documents, and more! It also has the capacity to expand the school district’s alert system to translate messages in students’ native languages--a critical function, especially in an emergency. Our new website and app will also improve ADA compliance. Be on the lookout for more information on how to download the new mobile app in the Principal newsletters on April 14th.
FALL RETURN PLANNING: Biddeford and Dayton building leaders are working on their plans for a full reopening next school year 2021-22 in compliance with CDC guidelines. From laser measurements to CAD software, we are doing a comprehensive and detailed analysis of every inch of every space on our campus. These plans will be discussed at their School Committee meetings in April, and public comment is welcome.
HELP FOR THOSE IN NEED EXPANDS: The Biden Administration has extended an eviction moratorium through June 30th. In addition to federal programs to help our families meet their basic needs, the State of Maine, York County Community Action Corporation, and the Biddeford Education Foundation have programs available. I have included a complete list below and how to contact each program to apply. We understand this is a very difficult time for many of our neighbors, and ask that you please reach out to your child’s principal or school social worker if you are struggling.
As this is my last newsletter before April Vacation (April 15-23), I want to reiterate that while educators are currently being vaccinated and soon anyone 16 and older will be eligible, the majority of our parents have reported a COVID-positive result on Monday or Tuesday of the remote weeks which follow vacation. Therefore, please make note of the remote and in-person dates for the week of April 26-30:
Remote Monday, April 26th and Tuesday, April 27th
Return in-person on Wednesday, April 28th
Remote Monday, April 26th and Tuesday, April 27th
Flex Day as usual on Wednesday, April 28th
Return in-person on Thursday, April 29th
We continue to ask parents to complete the screener during the remote days and report any travel or positive results among any household members to the School Nurse. Please be aware a negative test result or quarantine is a requirement to return after most travel. For current travel guidelines and expectations, please click here.
Superintendent of Schools
Spring Sports Open to Spectators with Guidelines
Are you behind in rent or utilities as the result of the pandemic or other hardship? Help is available!
The Biden Administration has extended an eviction moratorium through June 30. What does this mean? In short, a landlord (including a management company) “shall not evict any covered person from any residential property” through June 30.
Who’s covered? In brief, you are covered if:
You used your “best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent.”
You earned less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if filing jointly) in 2020
You aren’t able to pay rent because of “substantial loss of household income,” due to loss of hours, reduced wages, lay-offs, or catastrophic medical costs.
You have been working to make partial, on-time payments
If evicted, you are likely to be homeless
Full details on the moratorium are located here.
Rental Assistance Available - $200 million from the State of Maine
The Maine State Housing Assistance program is offering emergency assistance to families. MaineHousing and Maine’s Community Action Agencies are accepting applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This program helps pay rent and utility costs for eligible renters affected by COVID-19. Maine’s Community Action Agencies are running this program in communities across Maine. You can read more about eligibility and how to apply here, or, for further information or questions, please reach out to MaineHousing at (800) 452-4668 or (207) 626-4600.
YORK COUNTY HELP
Local Rental and Utility Assistance
Emergency Rental Assistance program also offers help with overdue utilities. Click here for more information and the application.
BIDDEFORD EDUCATION FOUNDATION HELP
The Biddeford Education Foundation is a non-profit, community-based organization that funds school programs and special services to support Biddeford teachers and students. Thanks to a generous grant from GracePoint Church in Portland, the BEF will have some discretionary funds available beginning April 15th to assist Biddeford families in need with utilities, food, clothing, and other necessities. Requests for assistance should be directed to the school social worker (PreK-8) or the school principal (9-12 and Dayton).
Biddeford Mayor’s Proclamation Supports Week of the Young Child®
On Tuesday, April 6, Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant will proclaim April 10-16, 2021 as the Week of the Young Child®.
In its 50th year, the Week of the Young Child® is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world's largest early childhood education association, with nearly 60,000 members and a network of 51 affiliates, including the MaineAEYC.
The Week of the Young Child® is designed to focus public attention on the needs of young children, birth through age 8, and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.
According to Sharon Trace, Network Coordinator of Biddeford Ready!, “This proclamation by Mayor Casavant shows the City’s commitment to early childhood care and education, which not only provides the building blocks for children to thrive in school, it is also critical to supporting the workforce and local economy.”
Celebrations to recognize the Week of the Young Child® are planned throughout Maine and the entire country. Learn more at the MaineAEYC website or follow Biddeford Ready! on Facebook or Twitter for events in the Biddeford area.