Curriculum Matters: Family Edition

Supporting families while social distancing (3/18)

Message from the Curriculum Director


As you can imagine, our MSAD#17 administration, faculty, and staff are working incredibly hard to figure out how to ensure that our students have educational opportunities during this time of uncertainty. I want to update you on where we are in that process in order that you can support your children at home as best as you are able. We are expecting our teachers to start remote learning with students on Monday, March 23.

At this time, there is more unknown to us that we thought possible. We developed initial guidance for staff that outlines our expectations for learning over the next few weeks. Here are some of the big ideas that might be helpful to you as you work with your students:

Educational opportunities should:

  • Foster a love of learning

  • Maintain relationships and connections with our students

  • Keep students mentally engaged

  • Keep a sense of routine

  • Foster student voice and choice

  • Be grounded in guided and independent practice

  • Provide a variety of learning opportunities

  • Reinforce standards already taught

In place of conferences:

In order to maintain relationships and connections with students, teachers should be in contact with the families of their students once a week while we are learning remotely. We think of this as a fantastic opportunity to call home and talk about good things with kids and families. We are asking teachers to log their phone calls to families. In turn, we ask that you understand that teachers will probably not know the answers to some of your questions.

Learning Practices:

Here is the basic guidance for faculty regarding contact with students and families:

  • Grades PreK-4: Make contact with parents daily via email, messaging or phone. *

  • Grades 5-6: Google classroom or make contact with parents daily via email, messaging, or phone, depending on school resources.*

  • Grades 7-12: Make contact with students daily via Google Classroom.*

*In the event that students do not have internet access, we will make hard copies of assignments. Each building is working with families to gather that information. If you know someone who doesn't have internet access or a computer, encourage them to get in touch with school!

At this time, we have recommended that lessons for students stick to the following timelines:

  • PreK-2 students: 1-2 hours

  • Grades 3-6 students: 2-3 hours

  • Grade 7-12 students: 3-4 hours

We will be providing feedback to students rather than grading them at this time.

Thanks in advance for the support of our school system during this time of uncertainty. Please assume that we are all trying to do our best to support the continued learning of our students. If you have questions or concerns, get in touch.

I hope the resources in this newsletter will be helpful to you as you have your students at home. As a parent myself, I know that the next few weeks will be interesting, to say the least!


Heather Manchester

MSAD#17 Curriculum Director

Message from the Director of Special Services

Special Services is working diligently on a plan for COVID-19. This is a challenging time for families as well as schools. I want to assure you that we are doing everything possible to allow your child the opportunity to receive their educational services as set forth in his/her IEP. The teachers and related service providers are working very hard to develop alternate ways to advance your child towards meeting his/her IEP goals.

I hope you and your family stay well.

Thank you,

Jan Neureuther M.S.Ed., Director of Special Services

Supporting our Children with Information about COVID-19

Here are resources for talking with your kids about the virus.

Internet an Issue?

If you don't have internet access at your home, Spectrum is offering free wifi to new K12 and college student users for the next 60 days, depending on availability of service:

The district is in the process of securing hotspots for families without internet. We will send out a message as soon as we have the details. If you know a family who needs internet access, please let them know to notify the school. We intend for this to be available as soon as we can arrange it.

Food Service During School Closure: Meal Delivery

Hopefully everyone knows that the district is delivering meals by bus and to each school in the

community. At press time, the district delivered over 1000 meals to our kids! Thanks to our bus drivers and food service staff for the enormous effort!

Download the app "Here Comes the Bus" if you want to see when the bus will arrive at your house. The directions are attached at the bottom of this newsletter.

This service is for all students in our school district and their young siblings not yet in school.


PreK and Kindergarten Registration

PreK: We will continue to mail applications and accept phone calls regarding PreK for next year. If you want to get started with the process, please call Marj Scribner at Central Office.

743-8972 ext. 8268

Kindergarten: Registration dates were set. Please know that we are anticipating that those dates may change depending on where we are in a few weeks.

General Resources for Supporting Learning at Home

Your children's teachers will be using many of the digital tools out there to develop lessons for your child. Here's a shortlist of resources for you to use in addition to what is sent home:

The Parent's Guide to the Google Classroom: Our older students will use Google Classroom to work on academics. Here's a guide to help you understand the platform.

Caregiver Math Resources: Games and activities to support math during school closures.

Scholastic Learn at Home: Scholastic magazines have made their activities free for home learning.

Virtual Museum Tours: Now is the chance to "visit" that cool museum you've always wanted to!

Khan Academy: Parents and students can create an account to keep working on math skills.

National Geographic Family: A host of resources for families staying at home with students.

Smithsonian Education for Kids: Check out the cool activities for students. You can find out about dinosaurs, history, science, the arts, etc.

PBS Learning Network: There are a ton of educational videos and activities.

100+ Educational Shows on Netflix: There are some great shows that are educational on Netflix. This could be a great reward when kids are done their reading, writing, or math.

StoryLine Online: Famous people read stories to your kids!

Learning at Home: Sample Schedule & Resources for Elementary School Students with ADHD: This is a sample schedule for kids with AHDH (Hint: it would be good for any kid!!).

Down Dog: Fitness anywhere. There is free access until July 1st for all students and teachers (K-12 and college). To access the free school membership, please sign up with your .edu email address. If your school doesn't use .edu emails, please write to us at so we can extend the free membership to your school's email domain.

Education for Stir-crazy Parents and Older Students

EdX: Want to attend an Ivy League University? Model life-long learning for your children? You can take free courses from top-notch institutions.

There are many more options being shared on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! Check them out.

Maintaining Mental Health

During this time of social distancing, taking care of our mental health is vitally important.

Non-emergency Situations

  • The K-12 school counselors are available during the regular school day via email if you have a question or concern. We are available from 8-2 Mon-Thurs.

Emergency Situations

  • If your student is having a problem or you/they are concerned about somebody else, call the crisis hotline. This will connect you to your closest crisis center: 1-888-568-1112

Clinical Counselors

  • If your student meets with one of the outside Clinical Counselors please email/call them to see if they offer telecounseling.

Area Resources

If you have an emergency food situation, you may phone Karen Miller at 890-5693

  • Resources to find a counselor

Tips to talk to your kids and taking care of yourself

Tips to help reduce anxiety

  • Validate feelings
  • Normalize anxiety during heightened situations
  • Focus on what they have control of
  • Encourage distraction
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Going for a walk
  • Music
  • Craft project
  • Focus on your child's favorite hobby
  • Family time

Other Hotlines:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 1-888-568-1112 (Voice/TTY) Crisis Hotline
  • Child Abuse 1-800-452-1999 (Voice) 1-800-963-9490 (TTY) The State of Maine’s child abuse hotline is staffed 24 hours a day
  • Domestic Violence 1-866-834-HELP (4357) This number gives you information on domestic violence, crisis counseling, and emotional support.
  • 211: Available 24 hours a day/7 days a week to provide information and connect you or someone you know to local programs and services that can help.
  • Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services Helpline (24/7): 1-800-871-7741

Heather Manchester, Curriculum Director, MSAD#17

Instagram: @learn17

Curriculum Matters is a monthly newsletter for the faculty and staff of MSAD#17. This special edition is meant to provide support to families and students in the district during our time out of school.