MAINE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICT #35
Serving the communities of Eliot, South Berwick & Rollinsford
180 Depot Road Eliot, ME 03903 (207) 439-2438
John S. Caverly, M.Ed.
Superintendent of Schools
As our school year concludes, I want to reach out once again to thank our community for the support our school district has received over the past three months. On Sunday, March 15, 2020, school buildings across the state were closed for what we had all hoped would be a short period of time. I am proud that within two days, our district was able to create and implement a remote learning environment. Our district provided mobile hotspots to families that did not have access to the internet, developed a food service program to provide meals to families, and adapted our curriculum to provide a new way to access the content. We envisioned this as a new, short-term learning environment, but days became weeks and weeks became months. Through it all, our community has walked the path with the district, as our partner. Parents and families were asked to work collaboratively with the district in this virtual environment while managing the pandemic in your households. This pandemic continues to challenge us as a community. Yet, time and time again we have risen together to meet the challenges presented. Has it been perfect? No. Could we do things differently? Absolutely. I have asked each of the district’s principals to create a feedback instrument to evaluate our remote learning experience. This feedback will allow us to learn and evolve as virtual educators.
Last week, Governor Mills and Commissioner Makin released a document entitled: Return to Classroom Instruction Framework. The Framework targets five areas:
1. Physical Health and Safety Considerations
2. Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Considerations
3. Academic Programs and Student Learning Considerations
4. Common Foundation for Remote Learning Considerations
5. Additional Considerations
This document outlines the critical areas that must be considered while looking at a return to classroom instruction. This document does not provide specific requirements, but it does allow each district to begin planning for the fall.
Questions remain with regard to what school will look like in the fall of 2020. I believe it is important to be as clear as possible. MSAD 35 is 100% committed to having students return to school once it is deemed safe to do so by both the Center of Disease Control and the Maine Department of Education. Once that recommendation is made, we will work locally with our district nurses and staff to implement our back to school plans.
As a district, we have begun formulating different implementation plans based on the four frameworks that have been established by the Maine Department of Education. Those frameworks are:
1. Full return to school in the fall.
2. Full remote learning in the fall.
3. A partial return to school.
4. Full return to school and then transitioning to a remote environment.
These four frameworks include many variables including physical space, staffing, and transportation to name a few. On Friday, June 5th, I was notified that early this summer the Department of Education would provide more specific guidelines for a fall 2020 return to school. Once those recommendations have been made, the district will be reaching out to families for feedback.
Our challenge is to create the most productive learning environment possible for our students, while partnering with the families in our community. There are no easy answers and again, I am asking for your patience. As soon as I have information to share with the community, I will do so.
I have shared in earlier correspondence that the needs of the families in our school communities are very diverse. There are families that have decided that their children will not return to school buildings until a vaccine has been created and dispensed. There are families that need to partner with the school in order for parents to return to the workforce as quickly as possible. I want to assure you that we are taking the time to examine our next steps through multiple lenses. I understand this uncertainty can be frustrating. I wish I could provide that clarity today, but unfortunately, the situation does not allow me to do so. I will provide the district with any concrete information as soon as I am able.
School Lunch Program Extension
Late last week, I received some positive news with regard to the Federal School Lunch Program. The federally funded lunch program will continue to run through August 31, 2020.
We will continue food service delivery through June 26, 2020. Beginning June 29, 2020, we will begin a drive-through pick-up option only every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Meals for Monday and Tuesday may be picked up on Mondays, meals for Wednesday and Thursday may be picked up on Wednesdays, and meals for Friday, Saturday and Sunday may be picked up on Fridays. Beginning June 16, 2020, pick-up locations will be Central Elementary School, Eliot Elementary School, and Marshwood High School only between the hours of 8:30 am and 10:30 am.