October 8, 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians,
We completed our first week of pooled testing involving over 2,700 active participating students and employees throughout Biddeford, Dayton, and Saco School Departments! As with any new initiative, processes need to be established, communicated, executed and reviewed for improvement. Overall, week one went very well. The sheer volume of coordination to gather consents, assign designated pools, train staff, model expectations for students, collect samples, etc. was astounding, and I would be remiss not to personally thank our nursing staff for their efforts. Between Biddeford, Dayton, and Saco School Departments, two pooled testing nurses have been hired using federal funds, who are partnering with local nursing students to manage 260 pools at 15 locations each week.
NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS
If a pool comes back negative, then we continue our day jobs--educating children; however, we are working with Concentric to link each child’s unique code with their assigned pool so parents may access their child’s weekly pool results online. If a pool comes back positive, the nurses are notified by Concentric and all individuals within that pool will be given a BinaxNow rapid antigen test. If positive, the individual will quarantine and the school nurse will identify close contacts. Any close contacts enrolled in pooled testing* will be exempt from quarantine at school, on the bus, and any school-related sports and activities (but will need to quarantine outside of school-related activities). Please review page 7 of the Maine DOE Standard Operating Procedures and review the chart below for quarantine exceptions.
* Please note: Although pooled testing participants do not need to quarantine from school/school activities if exposure occurs at school, they must follow Maine CDC guidelines for community exposure (see additional guidance on US CDC guidelines).
Parents can still sign their child up for pooled testing, knowing it may be up to a week before our nurses are provided the child’s consent code from Concentric and designated to a specific pool. The link and school-specific codes are included in this newsletter.
Testing will occur each week according to the following schedule:
Biddeford High School
Center of Technology
Alternative Pathways Center
Biddeford Middle School
Biddeford Intermediate School
John F. Kennedy School
Biddeford Primary School
Dayton Consolidated School
If a holiday or snow day occurs on the designated testing day, participants will test the following week.
IN OTHER NEWS (NOT COVID-RELATED)...
Biddeford and Dayton will once again be submitting for the State of Maine Revolving Renovation Applications at the end of October. Applications will be relevant to specific improvements at Biddeford Primary School, Center of Technology, and Dayton Consolidated School.
Over the last two months in each bi-weekly update, including Principals’ Newsletters, we have informed parents about the importance of completing the Meal Benefit Application and its direct impact on our school funding. As of today, we have MANY families who have not completed the form which equates to a projected loss of $200,000 for next school year’s budget. I urge parents to please complete this form by next week so we can continue important programs and reduce the impact on taxpayers.
As a district, we continue to think of creative ways to recruit employees. Currently, our greatest need is bus drivers, substitutes, custodians, and educational technicians. Please consider sharing the below information and link to apply with your family and friends.
If you have any questions, please seek out our official communications avenues or ask for clarification.
Superintendent of Schools
Quarantine Exceptions Based on Exposure
GOVERNOR VISITS COT
Last week Governor Janet Mills and Commissioner of Education Pender Makin made a surprise visit to the Center of Technology (COT). As part of her ongoing focus on workforce development and retention in Maine, Governor Mills spent time talking with students and faculty of several programs to identify what motivates students and identify any barriers to access Career and Technical Education pathways. The Governor and Commissioner recognize the importance of the COT programs that not only support economic recovery and sustainability but also provide lifelong skill attainment for our youth to live prosperous and healthy lives. Our students were excited to meet the Governor and demonstrated several of the integrated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities that take place at COT. Although their visit was brief, they were given the opportunity to learn about the COT’s dual enrollment agreements, industry partnership relationships, community projects, and many of the opportunities provided to area high school students.
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.
Be Prepared to Thrive!
Like their Facebook page for education tips, creative ideas to engage children in fun activities, and community-wide resources and events. For more information about Biddeford Ready! and the community partners, visit their website.
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.
DELL EDUCATION PURCHASE PROGRAM
We are excited to announce our participation in Dell’s Education Purchase Program (EPP) which allows all school employees, students, parents, and their family and friends to receive member-only pricing on all personal purchases from Dell. Dell has set up a dedicated website to shop 24/7 at www.Dell.com/mpp/SouthernMESchools. All member discounts are built into the site and there is no required login or codes to qualify for discounts. Any login created will be for our own personal reference of Dell purchases.
To begin taking advantage of the program discounts, simply access the website and browse for the system that best fits your needs. No login credentials are needed to access savings. Additionally, if you would like assistance in choosing a system or with price matching, please email our EPP Account Manager, Jose Hidalgo at Jose.Hidalgo@Dell.com. When connecting with Jose, please reference our Member ID: GS1066239.
Member Benefits Include:
Exclusive monthly offers
Best price guarantee on consumer PCs from Dell
Up to 30% off Dell PCs, electronics, and accessories
Free enrollment in Dell Rewards: 3% back + free expedited shipping
BYOD and SLP Support
A dedicated point of contact (Jose.Hidalgo@Dell.com)