Biddeford Schools

August 12, 2020

Update by Superintendent Jeremy Ray

Dear Parents and Guardians,


On behalf of our administrative team, staff, and school committee, I wish to thank you for your participation and support in our planning for this most unprecedented back-to-school. We have been working around the clock to present the public with several reopening options that are responsible, responsive, and adaptable to families’ varied needs. We have received hundreds of calls and emails and hosted several public stakeholder meetings to gather feedback from hundreds of students, teachers, parents, and concerned taxpayers. Our team has analyzed over 4,000 survey responses and continues to carefully monitor the latest guidance from the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Education (MDOE).


I’m writing today with several critically important updates that affect our faculty, staff, and the 2,500 students in our care.


SCHOOL COMMITTEE HAS SELECTED A RETURN TO SCHOOL PLAN

Our public governance Board, in consideration of feedback from stakeholders in every corner of our community, elected a modification of Hybrid Option 2. Students in grades Pre-K through 8 will return to school all day on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. High school students and those attending some programs within the Center of Technology will return hybrid, with Cohort A on Monday and Tuesday and Cohort B on Thursday and Friday. All students will have a Flex Day on Wednesday. Click here for estimated school times, sample schedules, and more details. Please note: this is a working document and is subject to change.


ANYTHING CAN CHANGE, ANYTIME

As I shared with the public last evening, this is our plan now. As a parent of two, I understand that changes to school functions affect working parents. Any substantive changes moving forward will be dictated by the MDOE and Maine CDC. Thankfully, our state’s epidemiological data is moving in the right direction, but as we know, this can change in an instant. The MDOE will update its Health Advisory System rating (red, yellow, green) every two weeks. As of this writing, all of Maine is in the green; a move to yellow under the school committee’s direction may not change much for our district. A designation of red will require 100% remote instruction.


FINAL REMOTE/HYBRID COMMITMENT SURVEY

In the last survey, we asked parents to indicate if their child would return to school in a Hybrid model or if they preferred 100% Remote Instruction. If you did not previously complete the survey, please do so now by clicking here. If you indicated “Unsure” or have changed your mind, please contact your child’s school so they may update the current data to begin planning for staffing needs, teacher assignments, transportation routes, etc.


BEFORE & AFTER/FLEX DAY CARE SURVEY

We are working with our partners at Biddeford Recreation, YMCA and BLAST to determine the need for before and after/flex day care for K-5 students. Please click here to complete this form if your child(ren) will need care. Please note: This is not a commitment; it is simply gauging interest and more information will follow directly from these programs.


FAQS/OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS

We know that parents, teachers, and students have many questions. We’ve posted responses to dozens of FAQs on our biddefordschools.me/health website, but here are some of the more salient and pressing questions that are at the top of everyone’s mind today:


  • When will school start? The School Committee adopted a revised school calendar last night. Staff will report August 27 and we anticipate students reporting the week of September 8.


  • What Is A Flex Day? In an effort to best prepare students and staff if REMOTE instruction is needed in the future, our Flex day will have time allocated to practice a Remote Learning Schedule where teachers and students would log in, take attendance, and provide additional student support if needed. In addition, these Flex days will allow staff meetings, collaborative work sessions, team or department meetings, professional learning communities, professional development, and additional cleaning. Click here for a sample schedule on a Flex Day.


  • Can I Choose Remote Instruction? Any parents who are uncomfortable with their child(ren) returning to in-person instruction may opt for 100% remote instruction. If a parent commits to remote instruction, that commitment must be made monthly for elementary students (PreK-5) and quarterly for grades 6-12.


  • What does Remote Instruction look like? Our team is hard at work this very hour to develop an improved remote instruction model. It will likely be a blend of synchronous (live) classroom participation and instruction as well as asynchronous (independent) skill practice. Additional information regarding the types of instruction can be found by clicking here.


  • Where will my child attend school?

    • PreK and Kindergarten: Some John F. Kennedy Memorial School (JFK) students will start the year in leased classroom space at New Life Church (NLC) [551 Alfred Street]. PreK and Kindergarten students will be assigned to either NLC or JFK School shortly.

    • Grades 1 and 2: Biddeford Primary School (BPS)

    • Grades 3 and 4: Biddeford Intermediate School (BIS)

    • Grades 5-7: Biddeford Middle School (BMS)

    • Grades 8-12: Biddeford High School (BHS)

    • Click here for estimated start times.


  • Online Platforms And Parent Trainings: The platforms we are endorsing for our online learning will be Seesaw for grades Pre-K through 3 and Google Classroom for grades 4-12. Survey data show that parents need help with online learning tools so Biddeford teachers and staff will facilitate the following trainings via Zoom (see the end of the newsletter for links/phone information):

    • Google Classroom 101: August 17, 7-8:30 PM; Facilitated by Heather Tremblay

    • Seesaw 101: August 18, 7-8:30 PM; Facilitate by Jamie Berube

    • Tech Department Office Hours: August 19, 7-8:30 PM; Facilitate by Rich Dutremble


  • Resources: Click here for district-specific and medical-specific resources. For more information on Maine DOE’s requirements and guidance around schools reopening, music, band, sports, etc. please view the full document by clicking here.


  • Student Handbook Guidelines: All families and students will be required to adhere to the Student Return to School Guidelines based on requirements in the Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction by the Maine DOE and endorsed by the School Committee. These guidelines are in place in an effort to protect the health of all students, staff, and the larger community. Please review them with your child(ren) before school begins, ask any questions via the avenues below, and have younger children practice wearing a mask for short periods of time through August so they are more prepared when school begins.


  • What about sports? No final decision regarding athletics has been made at this time. Plans for athletics and co-curricular activities will be determined by August 24.


  • What about chorus and singing? According to the updated guidance by the Maine CDC, “singing and voice projection carry a relatively higher risk of virus transmission because it can aerosolize respiratory droplets to a distance of at least 13 feet” and should only take place outdoors with students facing in one direction.


  • What about band? According to the updated guidance by the Maine CDC, “some musical instruments carry a relatively higher risk of virus transmission. Instruction for musical instruments that require air blowing (e.g., flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, trombone) can only occur outdoors when individuals are at least 14 feet apart. Instruction for musical instruments that do not involve air blowing (e.g., strings, percussion, and piano) may continue indoors or outdoors as long as health and safety requirements are met.


As always, please seek out our official communications tools (District website and Facebook Page) and ask questions if you need clarification. Many of the questions may have already been answered on the Frequently Asked Questions document on our website.


We welcome your feedback and encourage parents and guardians to direct any questions to closurequestions@biddefordschools.me or use our special closure hotline at 207-391-6868.


Stay Well,

Jeremy Ray

Superintendent of Schools

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Back-to-Digital-School Technology Bootcamp for Parents

Monday, Aug. 17th, 7pm to Wednesday, Aug. 19th, 8:30pm

This is an online event.

Google Classroom 101: August 17th from 7-8:30 PM

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://zoom.us/j/95206282401

Or Telephone:

Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

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


SEESAW 101: August 18th from 7-8:30 PM

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://zoom.us/j/98711379645

Or Telephone:

Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

US: +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 253 215


TECH DEPT OFFICE HOURS: August 19th from 7-8:30 PM

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://zoom.us/j/92329684374

Or Telephone:

Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

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