The following letter was distributed by RSU 13 to families Tuesday, Aug. 25.
Dear Families of Our RSU 13 Community:
To start this letter, we are providing a brief overview of our current reopening plan.
*We will have a full 5 day per week in-person reopening for PreK-5 (with the exception of South PreK, which will be 4 days).
*A hybrid consisting of a rotation of a day in school in person and a day of virtual learning at home alternating for each cohort (approx. half of the student body) is planned for OMS.
*A hybrid consisting of a rotation of two days in person following a blue day block schedule on the first day and a white day block schedule on the second day in person then a blue day block schedule of virtual learning followed by a white day block schedule virtually is planned for OHS.
*RSU 13 will also offer a full “remote option” (going forward known as “off site learning”) to all students from families preferring that option K-12.
Students attending school, whether fully in person or in the hybrid model, are required to wear a face covering. Our FAQ Guide has been updated with the most recent guidance around face coverings, which is as follows:
Are there certain types of cloth face-coverings that are suggested?
PLEASE NOTE THAT RSU 13 IS PROHIBITING THE USE OF BANDANAS AND GAITOR-STYLE FACE COVERINGS (Updated 8/21/2020). Face coverings should cover your nose and mouth, and fit snugly against the sides of your face. Cloth face coverings should have multiple layers of cloth. For additional information about face coverings, review U.S. CDC guidance on how to make cloth face coverings, wear and remove masks/face coverings, and wash cloth face coverings.
Additionally, it is important for families to know the following, which pertains to any out of state travel prior to the start of school:
If a student or staff member has a medical appointment, visits out of state or drops off a college student, what is the protocol to follow? (Updated 8/21/20)
If a student or staff member travels to a non-exempt state for a medical appointment or any other reason, the quarantine or recent negative PCR test result rule applies. You could be tested upon return to Maine and would need to quarantine until you receive negative test results. Current exempt states as of 8/21/20 include New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, & New Jersey.
Survey Data and Definitions
Next, we thank you all for your time in filling out the survey. We had responses regarding 1,300 of our nearly 1,600 students, and our dedicated administrative assistants continue to reach out to families from whom we have not heard a response yet. Please know that if we do not hear from families and are unable to have contact, we will assume that families plan to send the child back to school and use district transportation. This will help us finalize our plans and numbers.
After careful consideration of the data from the family survey sent out last week as well as our current resources, we have been able to more clearly articulate our plan for our families who are choosing to not send students back to school in person this year. At the heart of our decision, just as with all other decisions we have been making this year, was the question, “What is best for our students?” We truly feel that this plan will provide the best off site learning for our students.
We are finding that it is important for us to better differentiate the definitions of our programming that have any component of students learning from home going forward since there are three ways in which students may be learning at home this year through RSU 13.
Off Site Learning: Our programming that takes place completely at home for our learners who have opted to not be physically present in school. If at any point the rest of the district needs to move to a full remote option and be at home as we did in the spring, our “Off Site” learners will continue to follow their curriculum and programming with their “Off Site” teacher with no interruptions to their programming. This option is chosen by families who are willing to commit to the first trimester (K-5) or quarter (6-12). Students learn using a separate commercially prepared curriculum (Edmentum/Calvert) that is completed at home under the supervision of families with a school-based learning liaison who will facilitate communication and monitor progress. Students with IEPs will be supported by a collaboration between the school-based learning liaison and designated special educators and related service providers.
Hybrid (In Person and “Virtual Learning”): Our hybrid students spend about half of their instructional time in a physical building and the other half at home learning virtually. This may not mean that all activities are online, but a “Virtual Learning” day will be the descriptor for students who are learning from home through our hybrid model on the scheduled days when they are not physically present in the building. Students with IEPs will continue to receive special education services provided by school based special education staff, and their programs will be amended as is individually necessary.
Remote Learning: Currently we have received a “Green” rating meaning that we are safe to open our building for either full in person learning (PreK-5) or hybrid learning (6-12). If our color shifts, particularly to red, we will need to shift all in-person instruction and our hybrid model to a “Remote Learning” model in which all students who were in-person or attending a hybrid model would learn from home. These students will continue to receive instruction and programming from their teachers that they received instruction from while in person or in the hybrid model, but the mode of lesson delivery and learning schedules will shift as needed.
Off-Site Learning Overview
In order to provide the best possible learning conditions and most consistent approach to curriculum for those who choose “Off-Site Learning,” we have decided to partner with Edmentum, a well-respected educational company, to offer a high quality virtual learning experience for our K-12 “Off-Site” students. The curriculum materials are different from our local programs and are fully online, but they are aligned with the same national standards. In each school there will be a staff member known as a “Learning Liaison” to connect with off-site learners who are using Edmentum; they will facilitate and support communication and monitor the students’ progress. Students with IEPs will be supported by a collaboration between the school-based learning liaison and designated special educators and related service providers.
Our K-5 off-site students will be using Calvert Learning, a research-based curriculum known for its academic rigor and engaging approach to project-based learning. You can learn more about the K-5 experience in these YouTube videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot4yR-qtnE0 and A Day in the Life of a K-5 Student
Our 6-12 off-site students will use Edmentum Courseware, which offers a comprehensive library of virtual courses in all content areas. This document provides a brief overview:
The Calvert Learning and Edmentum Courseware options are quite rigorous and time consuming, and they require family support and a time commitment of several hours each day, and students with IEPs will require an ADDITIONAL level of family support and time commitment to facilitate their engagement in any remote special education and related services. Attendance and weekly progress will be closely monitored and recorded by the liaison, so we want to be sure that families make this choice carefully. Please know that we are ready to support you in any decision that you make. For an introductory letter from Edmentum for parents (as well as how parents will be trained to support their child/children), please SEE THIS LETTER.
While we initially asked families to commit to a trimester for K-5 and a quarter for 6-12, we need to make a shift and ask for a commitment to a semester (half year) since this is how our licensing will work. If you find that this style of learning is not the right fit for your child at the very beginning of the year, however, we certainly ask you to reach out to us to make arrangements to send your child back in person. Additionally, if you are having second thoughts about your survey answers after reading more detail about our “Off Site Learning” option, please notify your child’s school no later than this Friday, August 28.
We strongly encourage our families who are considering homeschooling their children to consider this off site learning option. A few points to keep in mind regarding the difference between the off site learning option and homeschooling are noted below as well as in our FAQ Guide:
How is homeschooling different from the full remote learning option? (Updated 8/13/20)
Families opting for the full remote learning option are still considered part of RSU 13’s enrollment whereas homeschooled students are not enrolled in RSU 13. Homeschooled students are taught by families that make curriculum and instructional decisions for their learners. For more information about homeschooling, see this link through the Maine DOE and fill out the appropriate paperwork if you choose this option: https://www.maine.gov/doe/schools/schoolops/homeinstruction/requirements
Full remote learners are still enrolled in RSU 13 and will have curriculum and instruction delivered remotely by educators following RSU 13’s standards. Family will still need to provide support and oversee the student’s learning at home, but the instruction and curriculum materials will come through RSU 13.
Can homeschooling students keep the iPad to use? (Updated 8/21/20)
We are unable to provide iPads to homeschoolers at this time. The devices belong to the state and are not available for sale at this time. Families can drop off iPads that were provided last spring at our Central Office location at 28 Lincoln Street in Rockland, Maine anytime between 9am and 3pm Monday through Friday.
If you would like more information and detail about this option, please contact Steffany Tribou at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-596-6620.
We know our families have had many tough decisions to make over these past few weeks. Please know that we continue to work hard to ensure your children have a successful school experience in the coming year.
With Much Support,
John C. McDonald
Superintendent of Schools
Director of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction