August 27, 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians,
This week, we welcomed over 100 new or transferred staff to the Biddeford and Dayton school districts! It was not only encouraging to see so many smiling eyes during their orientation but also uplifting to see our returning staff begin to set up their classrooms as I visited the various schools. Many teachers had to quickly pack before they left for the summer as our custodial staff worked diligently to clean the classrooms and maintenance staff moved furniture to ensure we could accommodate all students returning in-person five days a week. As your child joins us next week, please be patient as there may be some hiccups along the way. The first week of school will mostly be spent becoming acclimated with the new processes and adjusting for improvements, focusing on students’ transition back to school and their social-emotional needs, and determining technology needs for distribution.
As a reminder, our district is committed to following all Maine CDC and DOE guidance as we consider the overall public health for the entire school population, the risk of increased 10-day quarantines, or a 28-day shutdown due to outbreak, and halting all participation in school activities or sports. It is imperative we all do our part so please remember to:
Do the self-screening at home (signs and symptoms linked here), keep your child home when sick, and report any symptoms or positive COVID results to the School Nurse, and;
Send your child off to school with a mask (or two!) as we require universal masking - indoors and on busses/vans - for all, regardless of vaccination status.
We understand starting at a new school can be anxious for many students and their parents so we want to ease those fears and limit any barriers to a successful return to school. Therefore, all schools have set up 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. This information was published in the recent Principal’s Smore Newsletters. If you are unable to attend the open house scheduled, click here for a virtual tour of the school or contact the principal directly.
Please review some vital information below on transportation, food services, student registration, devices, pooled testing, music guidelines, and COVID vaccine clinics. As always, we welcome your feedback and encourage parents and guardians to seek out our official communications avenues and ask questions if you need clarification. We have included a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) link at the bottom of this newsletter which we will continually update as questions arise.
Superintendent of Schools
REGISTRATION & PARENT PORTAL
It is very important for parents to complete the registration process and stay connected to the school. 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.
In an effort to help our parents and guardians better understand the benefits and process around pooled testing, our district nurses have compiled a detailed presentation (see link below) and explained it in the video below. Thank you to Deb Malia, RN, School Nurse for Saco Schools, and Krystal Taschereau, School Nurse for Biddeford Schools for providing an overview of pooled testing, a weekly flow chart, and easy-to-read quarantine guide, and addressing frequently asked questions.
Please Note: Parental consents with specific school codes to register will be released shortly. 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.
Thank you for your prompt response to our pleas throughout August around transportation. Coordinating transportation needs is a major undertaking to finalize assigned seating (for close contact tracing), bus routes, stops, times, number of runs required, and record in Infinite Campus. With school starting next week, only children assigned a seat in advance will be allowed on the bus. This means if you did not indicate that your child needs to take the bus then we may not be able to accommodate them in an assigned seat, 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. Approximate bus stops/times will be noted in the Infinite Campus Parent Portal under the 2021/2022 School Year tab by August 30th. 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.
DEVICES FOR STUDENTS
Every student in the Biddeford and Dayton School Departments will be assigned a school-owned device for the 2021-2022 school year with the expectation that students and/or parents will be responsible for returning them in similar condition (Device Protection Plan and cost details here). To begin the year, students in Grades PreK through 4 will each be assigned a device that will stay at school but will be ready to go home in the event of unexpected circumstances or potential quarantines. Students in Grades 5-12 will be issued a device that may go home with them each day (as determined by their teachers/building). Students should bring their device to school each day-charged. Devices will be assigned during the first week of school.
THIS FORM = $2.6 MILLION IN SCHOOL FUNDING
We are thrilled that all youth now have access to free breakfast and lunch (menus linked here). On the other hand, we are extremely concerned about the impact on school funding--$2.6 MILLION in Biddeford and Dayton combined last year--that is directly linked to the Meal Benefit Application.
We are asking ALL families to please complete the Meal Benefit Application, regardless of eligibility, as the data provided is used to determine our school funding, including Title 1 funds for special education programs; before/after and summer school programs; discounts on laptop insurance and internet; and teacher's student loan forgiveness. See Maine DOE’s brochure for more information.
All those who complete the form will be automatically entered to win one of five $100 Hannaford gift cards and those who meet certain eligibility requirements will receive additional Pandemic EBT benefits (if completed by August 31).
We are pleased that the Maine DOE and Maine Music Educators Association (MMEA) are encouraging schools to reinstate their music programming. The MMEA makes the following recommendations for music in line with National CDC guidance:
Distancing: aligned with all other classes when inside for all students
Playing/singing time duration: no restrictions with adequate ventilation
Masking/Instrument Covers: aligned with other classes when inside for all students (singing--masked; wind playing--bell covers, masks at teacher discretion in consultation with local administrators)
Performances: a return to live performances (following state standards for community events).
This is extremely good news for our students. We will continue to evaluate current guidance as concert dates near but are excited to bring music back into our curriculum!
COVID VACCINE CLINIC - Open to All over the age of 12
Biddeford School Department is hosting a free COVID Vaccine Clinic through a partnership with York County Emergency Management Agency. The clinic will be held on Tuesday, August 31st from 12-6 PM and open to anyone over the age of 12 at Biddeford High School’s Tiger Gym. The following vaccines will be available: Pfizer (1st Shot on August 31; 2nd shot on September 21) or J&J (one shot only). Children ages 12-17 are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Anyone over the age of 18 may choose Pfizer or J&J. No Booster shots are available at this time.
Consent Forms will be completed upon arrival. Parents/Guardians must accompany their child or ensure their child has a completed consent form upon arrival. If you have questions specific to the COVID vaccine, please follow up directly with your physician. Thank you for doing your part to bring an end to this pandemic.
ADVANCED CHILD TAX PAYMENT CREDITS IN 2021
Important changes to the Child Tax Credit will help many families get advance payments of the credit starting this summer. The IRS will pay half the total credit amount in advance monthly payments beginning July 15. You will claim the other half when you file your 2021 income tax return. These changes apply to tax year 2021 only.
To qualify for advance Child Tax Credit payments, you — and your spouse, if you filed a joint return — must have:
Filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return and claimed the Child Tax Credit on the return; or
Given us your information in 2020 to receive the Economic Impact Payment using the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool; and
A main home in the United States for more than half the year (the 50 states and the District of Columbia) or file a joint return with a spouse who has a main home in the United States for more than half the year; and
A qualifying child who is under age 18 at the end of 2021 and who has a valid Social Security number; and
Made less than certain income limits.
This information is being furnished to families as a courtesy. Translations are available (click here) in Spanish, Portuguese, Lingala, Kiswahili, Arabic, Russian, French, Somali, Kinyarwanda. The School Department can not advise families on tax law.