Superintendent of Schools for AOS 93

July 21, 2020

Dear AOS 93 Parents and Staff,

I hope this AOS 93 update finds you well and enjoying the warmth and sunshine of a summer peaking. Below is a summary of our work in progress to let you know where we stand right now as we move closer to the start of the school year. This letter was prepared to send last Friday but new information from Governor Mills and the Maine Department of Education required some revisions. Hence, “right now” are the operative words.

Each school has been working diligently through its Collaborative Planning Team to develop detailed written plans for the three return-to-school models: a return to “normal” school, a hybrid model of “normal” school and remote learning, and a remote/distance learning model. Within each return-to-school model, Teams are addressing the multitude of issues that impact student and staff safety, teaching and learning, financial considerations, as well as the management and implementation of each plan. Planning Teams are using protocols outlined in the “Maine Schools Reintegration Framework.” Here is the link to the document that was updated on July 17, which I encourage you to read as it is guiding the development of our plans. Teams are also incorporating emerging advice from state and local health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our goal is to have school plans completed and shared by July 31, 2020. Plans will be updated as new information comes forward.

 Return-to-school factors that are being addressed include: 

  • classroom configurations;

  • social distancing protocols; 

  • lunch models; 

  • transportation; 

  • pick up and drop off protocols; 

  • staffing; 

  • the needs of children, staff, and families with risk factors that impact their return to school and work; 

  • prevention factors and the use of personal protective equipment. 

Remote learning factors that are being addressed include:

  • a robust plan for instruction that includes forward movement along learning progressions;

  • a daily schedule with age-appropriate engagement expectations for students;

  • a plan to provide necessary materials and technology;

  • a plan for identifying and addressing social/emotional, behavioral, and mental health concerns;

  • a plan for grading and certifying achievement;

  • a multi-tiered system for ensuring differentiation, IEP implementation, and equitable access for special populations;

  • plans for addressing student nutritional needs and verifying attendance. 

I realize that knowing how we start school is of utmost importance to our entire community. However, it would be premature to make a decision at this point in time. While we are fortunate right now to be only one of four states nationwide in the “trending better” category (according to Covid Exit Strategy website), daily changes in county- and state-level data as well as anticipated instructions (or mandates) from the state could likely impact the direction we choose. Therefore, School Boards, in collaboration with the Maine DOE, are taking a measured and thoughtful approach and will base their recommendations following a review of completed Team plans and receipt of additional state instructions. Our goal is to announce initial school decisions no later than August 15, 2020.  Regardless of which option we implement in September, our focus will continue to be on safeguarding the health and well-being of students and staff while supporting teaching and learning so that all students can achieve success toward their educational goals. 

Against the backdrop of a daily flooding of Pandemic news, facts, data, recommendations, everchanging mandates, and worries, it is important to step back and remind ourselves that none of us has ever been through this before. But drawing upon AOS 93’s strong sense of commitment to our students and qualities that make our schools and communities special—a willingness to work together and be flexible, supportive, smart, understanding and caring—we can embark on our upcoming school year with a focus on providing an enriching school experience, no matter where, no matter how and no matter what.

Please feel free to reach out to me or your school principal at any time.

With continued appreciation for your support and for all that you do,

Craig Jurgensen 

Superintendent of Schools 

Photo credit: Daily Hampshire Gazette