The following letter was sent to parents in the Five Town CSD and SAD 28 today from Superintendent Maria Libby: I am writing to let you know that, based upon a recommendation by Maine Governor Mills and Education Commissioner Makin, we will continue with remote learning throughout the rest of the 2019- 20 school year.
Their recommendation is based upon guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that recommends an 8 to 20-week timeframe for avoiding large group/in-person instruction once there is evidence of community transmission of COVID-19.
We are acting in concert with ALL area school districts to do our part to slow the spread and to save lives. We believe that no school in Maine plans to resume in-person instruction this year.
While the recommendation from the state is guided by solid and convincing public health and medical information, this remains a very difficult decision. We know that to not resume in-person classes and to extend remote learning until the end of the school year poses an extreme hardship for everyone in our community. Families will continue to cope with childcare and managing school expectations while grappling with the other personal and financial challenges this crisis presents.
We know this decision also brings considerable disappointment for many. Young children are confused about why they cannot go to school. Teenagers are likely frustrated and bored by the lack of interaction with their peers. Seniors will experience a significant loss by not experiencing the normal rites of passage as they transition out of high school.
Students, families, and staff all miss the sense of community developed through the daily life of a school, whether that is the simple act of passing a friend in the hallway, picking up your child from school, or sitting shoulder to shoulder with the community cheering on our sports teams or listening to an incredible musical concert.
With this announcement comes the reality that we will not hold some of our most sacred traditions, including prom, graduation, and 8th grade promotion. It goes without saying there will not be spring sports.
We are already working on alternative ways to safely redesign graduation and other important end of the year happenings to provide continuity, an ongoing sense of community, and some closure - especially for our seniors. Stay tuned for more information in the weeks ahead.
There will be no classes during the April vacation, which is Monday, April 20 – Friday, April 24. This scheduled week off will provide a much needed opportunity for our staff, who are reinventing their curriculum and instruction on a daily basis, to catch their breaths. Hopefully it will give students a chance to be outside more and reduce their screen time.
We will continue providing meals for students during April vacation, distributing multiple meals in fewer number of days.
In Camden and Rockport, deliveries will be on Tuesday and Thursday of that week. Lincolnville and Appleton will do bulk delivery on Monday of vacation week, and Hope will deliver with their regular M-W-F schedule.
As I previously shared, the state has waived the required 175 minimum student days this year.
Many districts in the state will have far fewer days than that because they either have not yet started remote instruction, or they started after delaying for a period of one or more weeks.
We are fortunate that we only had 1 day between ceasing in-person learning and starting remote learning. Our district hardly skipped a beat in the transition for most of our students. Because of the waived minimum number of days, each district will determine its last day of school, which may or may not fall as the calendar originally indicated.
In our districts, I am going to wait a few weeks before recommending an end date for approval at a board meeting. I plan to gather information and input from parents, students, and teachers. I will be weighing a lot of different factors in making that recommendation, including but not limited to: the capacity of our community to sustain remote learning (teachers, students, and parents), the benefit to families to have continued structure for their children, and the overall health status of our community (e.g. are a lot of our teachers sick?) If we do end school before the scheduled end date, teachers will continue working their contracted number of days by doing important curriculum work and professional development.
A positive side effect of not returning to our physical classrooms is that we will be able to demolish the Camden Rockport Middle School sooner than anticipated. This may translate into having more of the landscaping (i.e. bus loop/parent drop off loop) completed before school starts than originally anticipated.
We are keeping our fingers crossed that the project is not significantly impacted by COVID- 19. This spring, you may see the façade of the new school revealed far sooner than expected, and we think you will love what you see.
When we started the 2019-2020 school year, no one could have guessed that we would end the year physically separated from one another, learning remotely. I continue to be so proud and impressed with how everyone in our two districts – staff, students and families – is doing their best to not only cope with our new learning reality but also to make it as successful as it can be. Thank you all!
Sincerely, Maria Libby
Please continue taking good care of yourselves, your families, and your neighbors. We all miss your children and look so forward to having the schools filled with their youthful energy again!