IMPORTANT UPDATE

July 31, 2020

Big picture

Dear Biddeford and Dayton Families,


As many of you have heard, the Mills Administration released updated guidance to schools for the purpose of informing decisions on fall instruction. This guidance includes the Maine Health Advisory System (MHAS), which classifies counties’ relative risk by color, as well as updated requirements for schools to reopen safely. The MHAS is intended to be “user friendly” and easy to understand, categorizing each of Maine’s 16 counties as red, yellow, or green. The initial assessment released today showed that 16 Maine counties are currently categorized as “green,” suggesting a relatively low COVID-19 risk at this time and that in-person instruction can be adopted as long as schools can implement the six Requirements for Safely Opening Schools in the Fall. Those six requirements include:

  • Social Distancing

  • At-home Symptom Screening

  • Masking

  • Additional PPE, as required

  • A rigorous and habitual hand cleaning regime

  • Extended “home isolation” following an illness

COVID-19 remains more prevalent in Cumberland, York, Androscoggin, and Sagadahoc counties than in other Maine counties.


While it is certainly a relief to many that all of Maine’s counties are “green,” and that Maine’s overall cases, deaths, and community transmission is one of the lowest in the country, there are a few things I’d ask the community to consider. First, the MHAS system will be updated every two weeks, and much may change in the three additional reports before the start of school. Second, based on inquiries I’ve received from the community, many are under the misapprehension that green means go, and that hybrid back-to-school models have been shelved and school can resume as it always has. I’m afraid this just isn’t the case. The Department’s rules--including those for social distancing--will prohibit our schools (and most others in southern Maine) from welcoming all students back on campus in the traditional fashion. A green designation from the MHAS doesn’t change much for our schools, and a yellow designation won’t either: we continue to plan for the safest possible reopening for our students and staff while our community mulls our district administration’s refined options for returning.


Please be mindful of this information as you talk with your children and neighbors--social media is rife with speculation and misinformation about yesterday’s state announcement. A green designation simply means that schools “may consider in-person instruction…[and] may need to use hybrid instruction models if there is insufficient capacity or other factors (facilities, staffing, geography/transportation, etc.) that may prevent full implementation of the health and safety requirements.” Our return will be hybrid in nature, at least for the upper grades, in Biddeford and Dayton is still being determined.


Last week’s school committee meeting in Biddeford was well attended, and members of the community shared their support, their ideas, and many questions about our reopening plans. Dayton's School Board meeting is this week. I’m sure that yesterday’s announcement has raised additional questions; to that end, I’d like to invite members of the community to a special online forum Monday night (Biddeford) and Tuesday night (Dayton). Please click the link below to join the webinars:


BIDDEFORD - MONDAY, AUGUST 3, 6-7:30 PM:

https://zoom.us/j/95665847670?pwd=eDliaExXNGJUdkZ2YUVUVVhmdTJ3QT09

Passcode: 675557

Phone: US: +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799

Webinar ID: 956 6584 7670


DAYTON - TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 6-7:30 PM:

https://zoom.us/j/98231088836?pwd=OTArUllXUkN2ZGUvVWRKNTVkaHBvUT09

Passcode: 237256

Phone: US: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656

Webinar ID: 982 3108 8836


DAYTON SPECIAL SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING

THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 6:30 PM:

https://zoom.us/j/91900062194?pwd=eENQblJXbSs4dkF4TjYxQjd4REJNQT09

Passcode: 127845

Phone: US: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656

Webinar ID: 919 0006 2194


My team and I will keep you updated, and I look forward to talking with you on Monday or Tuesday.


Yours in service,

Jeremy Ray

Superintendent of Schools