Sunday, August 9, 2020

Final Parent Re-Opening Survey and Additional Information


There is no greater adversity we face as a global society, as a nation, as a state and as a community than the current adversity caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  There are no "playbooks" for how to operate our schools or our communities under the circumstances we now face due to COVID-19.  There is no "right" and there is no "wrong" there are just people trying to do the  best they can to make difficult decisions balancing the need to "return to normal" with the new understanding that our old "normal" will never really return.  Ensuring our students, staff and our community are safe and remain safe has always been a top priority for the Gorham Schools and today's realities make this goal an even larger one.   As Karin Muzumdar-Shaw has said:  "Ultimately, the greatest lesson that COVID-19 can teach humanity is that we are all in this together."  An incredible lesson indeed!

The Gorham School Committee, the Gorham School District Leadership team, our Medical Advisory team, our school based leadership teams and our labor associations have been working non-stop since this past spring to plan for how our schools may re-open this fall under a myriad of ever-changing conditions, rules and guidelines.  As this work continues to unfold, the ground literally changes beneath us.  These are not the easiest conditions within which to make difficult decisions.  This is not an excuse.  It is simply context.  Above all, please know that the groups listed above continue to pour their literal hearts and souls into planning for our schools and continue to do their very best to prioritize the health and safety of our students and staff while balancing the very real economic conditions our families and our communities face during these difficult times.  Gorham has always been a community filled with "big hearted" people.  People who support one another and seemingly become stronger during times of adversity.  I encourage us all to remember our core values and to remember who we are as a community as we continue to navigate these "uncharted" territories together.  WE  ARE GORHAM RAMS...WE ARE RESPONSIBLE, WE ARE RESPECTFUL, WE ARE HONEST, WE ARE COMPASSIONATE, AND WE ARE COURAGEOUS (yes, that is our Code of Conduct).  

I have no doubt that we will get through whatever lies ahead of us as long as we remain true to our beliefs and remember that our children are watching us...let's make sure they learn the lessons we need them to learn about public discourse, about values, and about putting others first.

    

Now...on to the IMPORTANT INFORMATION!


August 6 School Committee Vote:

At its meeting on August 6, 2020 the Gorham School Committee made three important votes regarding the re-opening of our schools within the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.  The first was a vote to approve of the Gorham Schools  Pandemic Operations Plan (Re-Opening Plan).  The vote was 6-1 to approve with one dissenting vote from SC Member Phil Gagnon.  You can find the full 56 page Re-opening plan by CLICKING HERE or you can also review the Re-opening Plan Executive Summary by CLICKING HERE.  

The second vote was to approve opening Gorham High School under a RED LEVEL Plan.  This vote was 5-2 with two dissenting votes, one from SC Member Phil Gagnon and one from SC Member Darryl Wright.  This motion also allowed for Extra and Co-Curricular programs at GHS to open under the yellow model plans and to delay the first day of school to Sept. 8, 2020.  PLEASE KNOW THAT THE GORHAM SCHOOL COMMITTEE AND THE DISTRICT LEADERSHIP TEAM ARE WORKING NON-STOP TO ADJUST THE YELLOW MODEL RE-OPENING PLAN FOR GHS IN A MANNER THAT WILL HOPEFULLY ALLOW GHS TO OPEN UNDER A YELLOW  PLAN.  THIS WORK IS ONGOING AND WILL BE MORE FORMALLY PRESENTED TO THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE DURING THE WEEK OF AUGUST 17, SO PLEASE STAY TUNED.

The third vote was to approve opening Gorham Schools operating grades K-8 under a YELLOW LEVEL Plan.  This vote was 7-0 with no dissenting votes.  This motion also allowed for the delay of the first day of school to Sept. 8, 2020.

SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

It means that AT THIS TIME,  GHS is slated to open in a fully remote setting while students in grades K-8 will open school attending school 2 days per week as outlined in the yellow re-opening plan.  Additionally, GHS extra and co-curriculars will be allowed to operate using the yellow re-opening model and while maintaining all safety protocols as outlined by our district plans and by the Maine Principal's  Association.  

It also means that all students will begin school  on  Sept. 8, 2020 rather  than the original opening date of August 31 for K,6 and 9 and Sept. 1 for everyone else.  We will maintain originally scheduled Kindergarten screening processes on August 31 and Sept. 1 so those will remain unchanged.

It is our hope that we will be able to revise the yellow plan for GHS to allow for students in grades 9-12  and staff to return to school in some sort of hybrid plan that allows for face to face instruction to occur in conjunction with distance learning.

IMPORTANT NEXT STEPS - FINAL PARENT SURVEY

It is now time for me to send out a  FINAL PARENT SURVEY that will be used to make final staffing and other detail oriented decisions for the re-opening of our schools.  

Please click on THIS SURVEY LINK and complete the survey by Friday, August 14 2020.  The purpose of this survey is to make final determinations for the numbers of students who will be participating in our entirely virtual  learning model for the first semester and to determine final numbers of students who will be participating in face to face instruction for the opening of school assuming all schools will open under a yellow model (again, this will require a reconsideration vote from SC for GHS). Additionally, the results of this survey will be used to determine final transportation routes for our buses.

We ask that parents please complete ONE SURVEY PER STUDENT so families with multiple children will need to complete multiple surveys.  

OTHER UPCOMING IMPORTANT NEXT STEPS TO BE AWARE  OF

First, there has been a slight change in timing for our upcoming Q&A sessions.  I've had to delay the Grades 9-12 Staff and Parent Q&A  sessions until Thursday, August 13, 2020.  The full schedule is now below  with links:

Monday August 10, 2020

K-5 Staff Q&A Meeting (10:00 a.m.)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/83811234487?pwd=RDB4cDZOQnRQWDg1R0xPR2pPejFuZz09

Meeting ID: 838 1123 4487

Passcode: 637728

K-5 Parent Q&A Meeting (6:30 p.m.)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/82721543145?pwd=Wnk3Nk44aldEdkkvZEt0UlZBSW1jZz09

Meeting ID: 827 2154 3145

Passcode: 569614

Tuesday August 11,  2020

6-8 Staff Q&A Meeting (10:00 a.m.)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/88378534269?pwd=d0Y5ZDdJdUhPUC8vYjdJV1IzcFFzUT09

Meeting ID: 883 7853 4269

Passcode: 521974

6-8 Parent Q&A Meeting (6:30 p.m.)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/87975054787?pwd=MUovRDlQL2I4dmZhRmVvNnh0RlpjUT09

Meeting ID: 879 7505 4787

Passcode: 406969

Thursday, August 13,  2020

9-12 Staff Q&A Meeting (10:00 a.m.)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/82520409379?pwd=a3FJVTdrdDlCekV1K3NiUHVRVjdRZz09

Meeting ID: 825 2040 9379

Passcode: 976452

9-12 Parent Q&A Meeting (6:30 p.m.)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/89559208459?pwd=cno4VmRWUTBhQVp6V2xLdUoycko2QT09

Meeting ID: 895 5920 8459

Passcode: 010518

In addition to these VERY IMPORTANT MEETINGS that I would STRONGLY ENCOURAGE ALL STAFF AND PARENTS TO ATTEND, parents should also be aware that we will be sending a Student Handbook out during the week of August 10-14 and will be asking parents and students to review this  handbook between then and the opening of school and to return the signature page to school administration when schools re-open on Sept. 8, 2020.

Finally, I would like parents to be aware that we will be creating "Re-Opening Videos" for each school that outline what to expect for students upon return to school.  These videos will outline  "a day in the life" of students attending school in a Yellow re-opening model.  These videos will be released to parents during  the week of August 24, 2020.

As always - I appreciate everyone's continued patience, understanding and willingness to pitch in to problem solve and work together in a way that will ensure our schools are able to re-open in a positive manner on September 8, 2020.

THANK YOU




Friday, August 7, 2020

Update From Last Night's School Committee Meeting

 I will be sending out A LOT more  information later this weekend and on Monday for parents but I wanted to get a quick bit of information out today for folks  to be clear about  what the decision was of the Gorham School Committee last night to re-open schools.  First, you can view the entire 4.5 hour meeting by CLICKING HERE.  Votes related to the re-opening plan were as follows:

Vote #1:  Motion by Kate Livingston, 2nd by Darryl Wright to approve of the Gorham Pandemic  Operations Plan (Re-opening Plan) with the following two revisions:

1.  Add a statement in each Red, Yellow and  Green category that makes clear our goal is to provide 100% of the curriculum even though we may fall short.

2.  Add a statement in the Red and Yellow category  that our preference is to utilize SYNCHRONOUS Learning methods whenever possible.

Motion carried by a vote of 6-1 with Phil Gagnon voting in the negative.

Vote #2:  Motion made by Anne Schools and Seconded by Jen Whitehead to open Gorham High School (grades 9-12) in the Red Model (as described by Principal Jandreau) with Co and Extra Curriculars operating under the Yellow  model and with instruction beginning on Sept. 8.

Motion carried by a vote of 5-2 with Phil Gagnon and Darryl Wright voting in the negative.

Vote #3:  Motion made by Jen Whitehead and seconded by Kate Livingston to open Schools in  grades K-8 in the  yellow model (as outined in re-opening plan) with instruction beginning on Sept. 8.

Motion  carried by a vote of 7-0

Individuals may view the full  re-opening plan by CLICKING HERE. I will  be sending along an  executive summary this weekend.

Finally wanted to remind parents and staff that we have Q&A sessions scheduled for next week Monday Tuesday and Wednesday.  Staff scheduled meetings will be held at 10:00 each day via zoom with K-5 on Monday, 6-8 on Tuesday and 9-12 on Wednesday.   I will send links separately.  Parent scheduled meetings will be held at 6:30 on Monday for grades K-5, 6:30 on Tuesday for grades 6-8 and at 5:30 on Wednesday for grades 9-12.   Zoom information can be found on  our  district website, just go to the  home page and click on the events calendar for links.

That's it for now.  Again, I'll  be sending more information later this weekend and on Monday.  The BIGGEST   next step for parents is to be prepared to respond to a survey that will be sent out on Monday and due on Friday next week.  This survey will  ask you to determine whether you will be sending your children to school in the models described above  or if you will be participating in  the fully virtual model.  The survey will also ask about transportation. 

I know that these decisions have been difficult and  that there is no single  decision that everyone will be pleased with.  These decisions were made in the best interests of our students and staff and  their safety while balancing the needs of our families (and most importantly our students) to return  to school.   I encourage  everyone to be kind to one another and to do what Gorham always does in times of difficulty -join together to support one another in times of need.   

I hope you all have a restful weekend.  We will be back at this important work on Monday.  

THANK YOU!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Information For August 6 SC Meeting - Re-Opening Plan Discussion/Approval

Good afternoon everyone!  I hope you are well and enjoying some of this beautiful Maine weather!  I am reaching out to provide information and links that I am sharing with the Gorham School Committee in preparation for their meeting on August 6.  It is at this special meeting that they will be reviewing the Re-Opening Plan in depth, approving the plan (with revisions as necessary) and making a determination as to how we will open our schools on August 31.  As you can see by the topics I just listed, this is going to be a "heavy" meeting with much to discuss.

First, I want to make sure you know how to access the meeting if you wish to attend.  The meeting will be held on Thursday, August 6, 2020 beginning at 7:00 p.m. via zoom.  The zoom link is below:

https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/83059577529?pwd=UWk3Y2Njc0M0L1dYNXZsQldibHR0QT09


Password:  947246


Or via phone:  +1-301-715-8592

Meeting ID:  830 5957 7529


Additionally, I wanted to provide you with the link to the School Committee Agenda and Materials.


* Special Meeting Agenda

DRAFT Gorham Schools Pandemic Operations Plan (Re-Opening Plan)

DRAFT Student/Family COVID-19 Handbook

DRAFT Re-Opening Plan Slide Presentation


All other materials for the agenda packet can be found by CLICKING HERE.  


PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE MATERIALS ARE LIKELY TO CONTINUE TO BE REVISED RIGHT UP TO THE MEETING ITSELF... AS THEY ARE STILL LIVE DRAFT DOCUMENTS AS THE DISTRICT LEADERSHIP TEAM CONTINUES TO ADJUST PLANS BASED ON EMERGING DATA.


Also, I wanted to let you know that the CDC released its metrics identifying guidance on how each county should consider opening its schools  based on a red, yellow, or green designation with red being a suggestion of no in-person learning, yellow being a suggestion of utilizing a hybrid model of learning where approximately 50% of students are in schools for a limited time each week and with green being a suggestion of allowing all students to return to in-person instruction. The  metric is LINKED HERE.  At this time (and again these designations change each week) all counties are listed as "Green".  This information will definitely be used to help the School Committee make its decisions next week.  Please know (and I am sorry to have to confuse folks further)...but "green" isn't just "green"(nothing is so simple these days)... the "green" designation allows for all students to return to face to face instruction BUT ONLY IF ALL SAFETY GUIDELINES CAN BE MET with all students in the facility.  I'll be honest...right now that would be very difficult in the Gorham Schools - but we will definitely be talking about it at the School Committee Meeting on Thursday.  


Finally, I wanted to make sure parents knew of some IMPORTANT next steps in our processes to re-open our schools in whatever model is selected by the Gorham School  Committee.  Those are:


*  August 6  - School Committee decision

*  August 10 - Final Parent Survey released (Due August 14)

*  August 10 - K-5 PARENT Q&A Session at 6:30 p.m.

*  August 11 - Gr. 6-8 PARENT Q&A Session at 6:30 p.m.

*  August 12 - Gr. 9-12 PARENT Q&A Session at 6:30 p.m.

*  August 14 - Parent Survey Due

*  August 14 - 28 - Final preparations made to open schools

*  August 24 - Individual School Re-Opening Videos Released

*  August 31 -  First Day of School for K,6, and 9 (note Kindergarten screenings will take place by appointment on August 31 and Sept. 1.  Placements will be made and then formal classes begin for K students on Sept. 8).

*  September 1 - First Day of School for all  other students


Note:  Links to the Q&A sessions can be found on the Gorham Schools District Website Calendar.  Just click  on the calendar event and the zoom information will  appear!  These have been very valuable meetings for parents to attend so I would strongly encourage attendance if at all possible.  These meetings will also be recorded  (as long as I remember to press record - sorry 6-8 parents) and  posted for parents who are unable to attend.


As always, if you have ANY questions, please reach out.  My email address is heather.perry@gorhamschools.org


THANK YOU!






Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Parent Open Q&A Sessions Announced!

The recent surveys, media headlines, social media and the seeming speediness that our summer seems to be cruising along have certainly created a nice little "buzz" in our community regarding the opening of our schools.  It is good that everyone is thinking about this important topic because to be honest, we (the schools) are going to need ALL THE HELP WE CAN GET, regardless of the model within which we open (Red, Yellow, or Green).  Bottom line though - I have full faith that the Gorham School Department will put together a Re-opening plan that will provide the best possible educational programs in the safest environments possible with the love, care and focus on relationships we have always had for every child we work with!  WE CAN AND WILL DO THIS! ☺

I have answered many emails  over the past few weeks from many parents - all whom had incredibly thoughtful and important questions to ask regarding how our schools will re-open and the potential implications for their children. There were questions regarding child care, questions regarding face coverings, questions regarding social distancing, buses, what schedules will look like, what kind of programming will be offered virtually, and much much more.  And although I answered each question emailed to me, I am very sure there are more out there...and I want to make sure to answer them.  

Additionally, I want to provide parents an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas regarding our draft re-opening plans for our schools in a timely enough manner as to allow for revisions to occur before the final plan is brought to the School Committee on August 6 for approval and decision making about how we will open our schools.  

Finally, I want to make sure that once the decisions  are made...that I communicate these decisions to parents effectively and that parents are once again given an opportunity to  ask questions and gain clarity prior to the opening of school in late August.  

As a means to these ends -  I have scheduled  THREE open parent Q&A sessions next week prior to the approval of the plan for the purposes of answering questions and providing feedback.  Then I have scheduled ANOTHER THREE open parent Q&A sessions the week after the plan is approved by the School Committee for the purpose of answering questions and making sure expectations are clear.  I have broken these open sessions up  by grade level so that parents can ask grade level specific questions and provide grade level specific feedback.

The schedule for these meetings is below.  Please feel free to flag the one (or ones) you wish to attend and mark your calendars!  The dates for all these meetings (along with zoom login information) will also be posted on our district website's calendar.   As always, if you  have any questions, please ask...otherwise - I look forward to seeing many of you at these meetings.  

Rough Agendas:

*  Opening Welcome
*  Brief verbal overview of grade level re-opening plans (Green, yellow, red)
*  Feedback/questions

Meetings List (BEFORE Plan Approval)

*  K-5 - 7/27 @ 6:30 p.m. via zoom
* 6-8 - 7/28 @ 6:30 p.m. via zoom
* 9-12 - 7/29 @ 6:30 p.m. via zoom

Meetings List (AFTER Plan Approval)
Note: I will email a link to the Re-opening plan after it is approved by the SC on August 6 so you can review prior to these meetings.

* K-5 - 8/10 @ 6:30 p.m. via zoom
* 6-8  - 8/11 @ 6:30 p.m. via  zoom
* 9-12 - 8/11 @ 5:30 p.m. via zoom

P.S. - I will do my best to record these sessions and post them on our district website for parents who can't make it...but as you all know - there's nothing like being part of the live discussion to really make sure your questions are answered!

Monday, July 20, 2020

NEED K-5 PARENT/GUARDIAN'S HELP - PLEASE READ!

Good afternoon Gorham K-5 Parent/Guardians!

I hope you are all enjoying a little sunshine today!

I am reaching out to you because I NEED YOUR HELP!  The Maine Department of Education released its updated Re-opening guidelines late last week and with it, they made a few changes that MAY IMPACT our planning for the re-opening of schools under the "YELLOW" model.

Please take about 6 minutes to watch my video below and then, I ask K-5 parent/guardians to complete a BRIEF survey (15 minutes max) sometime between now and Wednesday morning (7/22/20) to help inform a District Leadership Team meeting that is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. that day.

Note:  Grade 6-8 hybrid model would remain 2 day per week model so please respond only if you are a K-5 parent/guardian.

As always, if you have questions, please ask.

Here is the Video Link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1K0uSoKUyyQwQ1cs9s0bZtjfDwiokRuMo/view?usp=sharing


Here is the Survey Link:

https://forms.gle/WerTd32ayURvNRpH6

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR HELP!
________________________________________________________________________________

PARENTS CONSIDERING VIRTUAL LEARNING  OPTION - PLEASE READ

I AM GETTING A LOT OF QUESTIONS REGARDING HOMESCHOOLING.  TO BE CLEAR, IF YOU WISH TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR ONLINE VIRTUAL PROGRAM YOU DO NOT NEED TO WITHDRAW YOUR CHILD(REN)  FROM THE SCHOOL DEPARTMENT, AND IN FACT  YOU SHOULDN'T.  IF YOU WITHDRAW TO HOMESCHOOL VIA THE STATE PAPERWORK, YOU BECOME SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EDUCATION OF YOUR CHILD.  IF ALL YOU ARE SEEKING IS AN  OPTION TO HAVE YOUR CHILD STAY HOME - THEY CAN  PARTICIPATE IN OUR VIRTUAL PROGRAM - FREE.  

WHEN WE SEND OUT THE FINAL SURVEY TO  PARENTS IN AUGUST JUST INDICATE YOU WISH TO PARTICIPATE IN THE VIRTUAL PROGRAM AND THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO DO - WE WILL DO THE REST.

IF YOU KNOW OF OTHER PARENTS WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT SENDING THEIR  CHILDREN TO SCHOOL - PLEASE  LET THEM KNOW - THEY SHOULD  NOT WITHDRAW THEIR CHILD FROM THE SCHOOLS...WE WILL PROVIDE THE VIRTUAL OPTION AS IF THEY REMAIN ENROLLED.  THANK YOU!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Parent/Guardian Re-opening Survey REMINDER

Good morning everyone!  Just wanted to get a reminder out to everyone that the due date for completion of the parent re-opening survey is quickly approaching - TOMORROW! I've created a video below to remind parents to complete the survey and to share answers to some of the most common questions I have gotten about the hybrid model thus far...please review the QUICK video and then if you haven't already completed the survey - please do so!  If you have already completed the survey - THANK YOU!  As always, any questions - please ask!


Video Message

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MxZxhocHqA2WhUnuWhZTA2EtfF4_988X/view?usp=sharing


Survey Link

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe-ufwmscinc_9Hw7pnclkGOybUbagwWa5-iNRDLn0yb41n2Q/viewform?usp=sf_link


Friday, July 3, 2020

Parent Re-Opening Plan Survey - RESPONSE NEEDED

Good morning everyone!  I hope you are all gearing up for your July 4th holiday weekends with family and friends and enjoying a little well deserved time off!  This is an IMPORTANT blog post as I NEED YOUR HELP in completing a survey that will allow us to move forward in our planning for the re-opening of school.  Please watch the video message from me linked below and then click on the parent survey linked below and take 15-20 minutes to complete the survey sometime between now and Friday, July 10, 2020.  As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out!  THANK YOU!


SUPERINTENDENT'S VIDEO MESSAGE TO PARENTS



LINK TO K-12 PARENT RE-OPENING SURVEY


Please note:  I will be sending a SEPARATE Email message via our district messenger system directly after this post to let families know which group your child(ren) have been placed in for your planning purposes.  You will either receive a message that your child(ren) have been placed in group A or one that indicates they have been placed in group B.  As a reminder, those in group A under the hybrid model of opening would be in school on Mondays and Wednesdays and those in group B would be in school on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Fridays being at  home flexible learning days focused on interventions, enrichment, SEL and/or Executive Functioning skills.

If you have ANY QUESTIONS - please email me at heather.perry@gorhamschools.org.

THANK YOU and have a great 4th of July weekend!