March 15, 2020
I want to provide the Marshwood Community an update on the COVID – 19 pandemic. Beginning tomorrow, Monday, March 16th, 2020, through at least Friday, March 27th, 2020, MSAD 35 will activate an alternative schedule. Monday March 16th, and Tuesday March 17th, will be no school days for students. We are asking staff to meet on Monday and Tuesday to finish preparing to implement our Continuity of Education Plan. Remote instruction is scheduled to begin Wednesday, March 18th 2020. During this two-week period, our district will constantly re-assess recommendations for distance learning and any additional guidance we receive for potentially extending the timeframe will be communicated to the Marshwood Community immediately. Schools across the nation are dealing with this issue in various ways based on local factors. Some districts are trying to manage week to week while other districts have canceled school until after April vacation. My hope is that we are back at school after these initial two weeks, but in reality, with what is occurring around the world, the two-week district remote learning time could be extended.
Please know that there are several dynamics that contribute to making our decisions moving forward. I have received feedback from the community ranging from why were the schools not closed last week to how could we even consider canceling school. Emotions for all of us are running high as we balance the safety of our community, country and world and how each decision effects each of us an individuals. This time more than ever, we need to take care of each other. The health of our staff, students and community must be at the center of every decision that we make.
Last night, I was made aware of some misinformation provided by the Saco Schools Superintendent and shared by the local media. In his letter to the public, he stated that all York County and Cumberland County Schools will be closed for two weeks. This information was not correct as I had not had an opportunity to confer with our district nurses and receive feedback from our district health care provider. Channel 8 news decided to run with the story and did not validate the information. This was extremely upsetting as I have worked to ensure that my communications are timely and informative. Channel 8 news has since run a retraction to correct the misinformation.
Please remember that this decision is not just a matter of sending a notice home that there will be no school, every waking hour in the last two weeks has been spent developing our Continuity of Education Plan and developing effective strategies for delivering instruction remotely.
Managing this crisis is an extremely difficult time for all of us. I have worked hard throughout this situation to be as transparent and collaborative as possible with staff and parents, but information is changing by the hour. With that said, I know that I cannot provide all of the answers in the timeframe that some would like. Below I have outlined a number of initiatives that we are in the process of coordinating:
Meals for Children: Tomorrow, all families will receive a district email asking if they would like to receive meals from the district. The cost for both breakfast and lunch will be what is typically paid by your child on a daily basis. If your child receives free or reduced lunch, they will receive a free lunch and breakfast as outlined by the Federal School Lunch Program. The district will create two pick up sites for families within walking distance of Eliot Elementary School and Central Elementary School. For those families that are beyond walking distance, we will be creating a meal drop off program. If you are interested in this program, it is critical that you respond to the letter that will be sent out tomorrow by our Food Service Program. We must have your response by noon on Tuesday in order to begin the program on Wednesday Morning. The letter will provide more specific information.
Students with IEPs, 504 plans, GT Plans, and ELL plans: Staff will be contacting you directly on Monday or Tuesday to discuss the implementation of the above-mentioned plans in a Distance Learning setting. I would ask for patience as we work with families to implement these supports for students.
What if my child needs something they left at school? We will have school staff available and the buildings will be open at this time. In the event that your child needs something that is at school, please call the main office of that building so we can schedule a time for item pick up.
In the event you have specific questions about our Continuity of Education Plan and your child, please contact your building principal. Again, we need to be patient, understanding and flexible as this is new to the vast majority of us. Please trust that I have the district’s best interests and intentions in my heart. Again, for clarity: MSAD 35 will begin our Continuity of Education Plan (Distance Learning) on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020. At that time, students will receive their education remotely and should not report to the school building until at least March 30th, 2020. Again, that return date is being constantly re-evaluated and any potential extensions will be sent out to the Marshwood Community immediately. I appreciate your trust and understanding.
Superintendent of Schools