Thursday, March 26, 2020

Thursday March 26 Update

Good afternoon/evening everyone!  Information just keeps flowing so wanted to get right down to it!  Here goes:

Separate But Not Divided:

If you have wondered about what more you can do to support the community through these difficult times...have we got a plan for you!  Developed by our very own Neile Nelson and Sarah Drury (GHS Teachers)...check out the information to learn more about this new way to help Gorham show we are TOGETHER in all of this!

“Do what you can, with what you have, for who you can.” Pender Makin, Maine Education Commissioner
As our nation adjusts to a new reality, we are inspired to find ways to help those most severely impacted by COVID-19. In an effort to give back to our community and those who suffer from food insecurity we are partnering with 320ink and their TipJar Initiative.

Please consider purchasing a t-shirt (Pictured below) for $20. ALL proceeds will be donated to the Gorham Food Pantry and Gorham BackPack Program.

Pre-sale closes April 12 and shirts will be printed/mailed directly to you from 320ink
We are hoping to spread messages of positivity via the #separatedbutnotdivided through social media platforms. We are encouraging people to take a photo wearing their Separated But Not Divided t-shirt and share it on social media with a message of hope and positivity. Please include the #separatedbutnotdivided as part of your post.

Though we have responsibly separated, we are far from divided.


Sarah Drury & Neile Joler Nelson, Gorham High School Teachers
Logo design by Joanne McCool, K-3 art teacher at Mabel I. Wilson School
If you are interested in starting a fundraiser in your community using the t-shirt design and #separatedbutnotdivided, please contact: Lindsay Wilkinson @ 320ink:
OR for more information please contact:

Approved Gorham Distance Learning Plan & Beginning of "Companion Documents"

Just wanted to make sure folks knew that the Gorham School Committee approved of our Distance Learning Plan last night during their first zoom meeting.  Please feel free to review the document and let me know if you have any questions.  Also, please know that this document is INTENTIONALLY vague and broad in order to offer our schools and staff the most flexibility possible as we continue to learn how to navigate this brave new world together.  Each grade span, K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 will be completing what I call "companion documents" that align to this overarching plan and provide much more detailed expectations.  These documents will be shared with all of you by building principals moving forward.

School Committee Meeting Schedule & Recent Recording

The first zoom meeting of the Gorham School Committee was held last night.  The link below is to a recording of the video.  Please not I wasn't fully "on the ball" last night and didn't click "record' until after the Roll Call was taken - my apologies!  I will do better (everyone's mantra lately right)...but please know all SC members were present and accounted for!

The School Committee decided to keep moving forward with meeting on their regular schedule.  Regular meetings of the SC take place on the 2nd Wednesday of each month beginning at 7:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted on the agenda).  Workshop meetings occur on the 4th Wednesday of each month also at 7:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted).  All subcommittee meetings other than the Finance Committee have been suspended unless needed.  All agendas will be posted on the Gorham Website (  You can go to "About Us", then "School Committee" and then "School Committee Meeting Notes and Agendas".  At the top of each agenda will be the URL and/or phone  number for how to access each zoom meeting.  We will continue to post all meetings on the google calendar found on the main page of our website.  If anyone has ANY questions about how to access this information  - please reach out to me via email at

At last night's meeting there were some  really great questions asked of folks who participated.  I thought it might be helpful to share those question and answers here:

Question:  What do families do if they need assistance with internet connections?

Answer:  Our Technology team has put together  a great reference sheet for you to access that is being finalized now and can be sent  out early next week with some tips and ideas on how to help in this area, but if that still doesn't help - please reach out to your building principal and we will work  with each family to assist and/or to differentiate work to accommodate for needs.

Question:  What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous meetings/learning?

Answer:  Synchronous meetings or learning opportunities are those that are "live" and done in "real time"...for example, a zoom meeting where 15 folks are logged in all at once is "synchronous".  Asynchronous learning is learning that is done "on your own" other words a teacher might provide a specific writing prompt and ask that the student complete the prompt over the course of the next few days and turn it in via google classroom.  That is "asynchronous" as there is no "live" communication occurring.  The Gorham schools are trying very hard to use a "mixed" approach.  The great thing about synchronous learning opportunities is that they offer the social connections that are students are craving.  The bad thing is that not EVERYONE can participate in these due to their own individual constraints (child care, or lack of internet connection or device, etc.).  The great thing  about asynchronous learning is that everyone, at some point or another, can have access...the challenge is that there  is not someone there to help directly, or that the social interactions which are so important to learning are also not occurring.  Again, this is why we are trying to take a "mixed methods" approach so we can do our best to offer the best of both worlds!  The social interactions associated with Synchronous learning and the  flexibility associated with Asynchronous learning!

Question:  What is the success rate with laptop and packet pickup? 

Answer:  At this point 100% of devices have been picked up by families/students for grades  4-12.  Packet pickup is likely closer to 90% with some families still being contacted.  Our goal is that by end of this week 100% of families will have made contacts with either a teacher, social worker/guidance counselor, or school administrator.  Overall, we feel like the vast  majority of students/families are engaging and are now cycling back to work specifically to differentiate for families who are having difficulties for whatever very valid reasons they may be. 

Question:  What is happening with CTE?

Answer:  WRVC and PATHS have instructed teachers to send  home materials to students.  Hard part here is trying to figure out what to do to offset the loss of the hands on components of instruction.  Additionally, fears around students being able to qualify for and finish any certifications they may have been working on.  Superintendent Perry is reaching out to the directors of both institutions to see what we can do to support/assist.

Question:   Is allied arts instruction still going on along with classroom stuff?

Answer:  YES - all allied arts folks are sending out information for how to access their programming.  This is either being done directly,  or through classroom teachers.  Also please note that a decision was made NOT TO MOVE grades 6-8  students into their NEW allied arts rotations at this time.  We felt the familiar face was more important that is on hold for now.

Question:  If a parent has a question about instruction, who should they reach out to?

Answer:  As always, we want parents to definitely reach out with their questions.  Please start with the classroom teacher, and then if needed feel free to reach out to your building principal and go from there.  No questions are "bad" questions at this time as we all continue to learn and grow together in this new system.  Teachers are very much open and accepting of feedback on how they can best differentiate for the needs of each please do not be bashful!

Question:  Students left  behind  because of factors they can't control...what are we planning to do to help?

Answer:  First, it is important to know that our supporting services (Learning Labs,  Special Education, etc. ) are all just  now planning on getting their supporting services up and running to begin next week.  That will be the first "wave" of assistance.  After that, we encourage families to continually reach out with their needs so we can do our best to differentiate and provide what is needed.  Ultimately, will some students be  more successful than others in attempting to engage in this new method of learning - YES.  But please know we are working on providing "safety nets" for those students and families as well.  We are working on plans to beef up our Extended  School Year services for special education families this summer as well as to offer actual summer programming for regular education students in grades K-11 who either we feel need that additional support, or who families feel may need that additional support.  Those plans will be coming as we continue to work.  Ultimately - just know that we will find a way to bring everyone back up to for now, just do the best you can with what you have and communicate your needs.  We will work to figure out the rest!

Upcoming Budget Workshop Meeting

The school committee will meet again on Monday, March 30 to continue its discussions regarding FY 21 budget.  The link to this zoom meeting is below.

Special Education & Other Support Programs

Will be starting their actual instructional programming next week Monday.  Similar to our regular education classroom "roll out" the first few weeks of programming will  be focused first on establishing communication with families and methods that work for each family to provide the much needed supports that we know exist. 

Kathy Hamblen will be sending out a letter to all special education families tomorrow with more information and case managers will be working  to get ahold of each family to begin programming during the course of the week next  week.  If you are a special education parent or a parent of a child receiving other supports (such as RTI, 504, ELL, G&T) and you have not had direct contact from a teacher or case manager by end of next week, please reach out to your building principal to let them know.

In Closing...

That is it for tonight...I did want to mention that you will NOT see a blog post from me tomorrow (Friday).  I have been basically working "non-stop" for the past two weeks (including weekends) and am in need of a "shut down day"...or at least this is what my colleagues and my husband are telling me!  So I am going to heed their advice (at least a little as I can't imagine not working at all for a whole day).  Updates will continue on Monday, and likely move to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule in order to ease the "information overload" I know is occurring.  But one way for all of us to stay  in touch is to share the great things happening via social media!  Please keep those photos and quick video clips coming!  Use the #Gorhamlearningtogether hashtag (and others that you'd like to add too) and  loop me in if you'd like using my twitter handle of @hperrysup. 

I continue to be thoroughly impressed with our staff and our community.  GORHAM IS THE BEST DARN COMMUNITY!  Keep up the great work, and as Dory said in Finding Nemo..."Just keep swimming...!"  IN closing...enjoy a few great pictures and a nice reminder!


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wednesday March 25, 2020 Update

Good afternoon/evening everyone!  Just a few quick things for today that I wanted to share.

First, I wanted to share a post made by our very own Maine 2020 Teacher of the Year, GMS Teacher Heather Whitaker...a great reminder for all of us, not just our slow down and focus on what is most important during these difficult times - EACH OTHER!

Just in case you haven't already seen it, I also wanted to share the link to the "protect nana" video created by our very own GHS students and Adam Parvanta, which is now being used by the Maine Department of Education as a PSA across the state to help remind our high school students of the importance of physical distancing.  Great job GHS students and Mr. P - again...focusing on what is most important right now!  LOVE IT!

Now on to the "nuts-n-bolts" Reminders:

School Committee meeting TONIGHT:

First I wanted to remind parents who may be interested that we will be holding our first school committee meeting in a while via zoom.  Here's the link if you'd like to join:

There will be a public comment section on the agenda and the meeting itself will be recorded in its entirety and then posted on our website and on the town website for viewing by the public.  The agenda for the meeting is LINKED HERE.  

Virtual DUNK AND DISCUSS Zoom Meeting Tomorrow Night:

I will be hosting my first of a series of four "Dunk and Discuss" meetings tomorrow night beginning at 6:00 p.m. for those who are interested in joining me.  There is no formal agenda...just come on, share your thoughts, ask your questions and hopefully get some answers.  If there are questions I can't answer, I will collect them and then get the answers back out to everyone via this blog.  I will also record the meeting and post a link for others to view.  

Here is the link to the zoom "Dunk and Discuss" for tomorrow night:

April Break is STILL "ON"

I have had some recent questions as to whether or not we will continue our distance learning programs through the planned April break (April 20-24) and the answer is NO.  I am thinking that by this time, everyone is going to need a little break from distance learning and a chance to just "turn off" and "power down" - parents and teachers alike!  Therefore, please plan that there will be no formal distance learning occurring during the course of the planned April vacation.  Now, for some of you high schoolers out there -I can't plan that some teachers may not still assign a paper or two over the break.  Of course this may have happened whether we were in "regular school" or not...but there will definitely be no plans to get students together formally (via distance) over the planned break.

Kindergarten Registration Postponed

Gorham Kindergarten Screenings that were previously scheduled for the first week of April have been postponed to the week of June 1st - June 5th. Anyone that had previously set up an appointment should have gotten an email from their respective school secretary. If you have not set up an appointment for your student to get screened or have any questions, please reach out to your school secretary via email.

Operation Feed Gorham Now Includes Breakfast!

"Operation Feed Gorham" continues to grow as we knew it would!  Beginning on March 30, 2020 we will be adding breakfast to the program.  THIS WILL NOT CHANGE THE will just mean that folks that want breakfast will pick up BOTH the bagged lunch and the breakfast packet at the same time each day (between 11:00 - 1:00) at our four satellite locations.  If you haven't been participating in the lunch program, but are interested in now participating, please go ahead to the survey link below to express your interest in participating!  If you have already completed the survey, no need to do it will automatically be added for lunch and breakfast!  Here is the link:

And then just to end on a high note today...A parent shared this site for online sing alongs that folks might be interested in...not sure if there is a small fee or not - but check it out.

Also, here's a cool picture I found online that I think sums it all up nicely for us here in Gorham!

THANK YOU EVERYONE!  Keep up the great work!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tuesday Update 3/24/20

I decided to sit out on my porch tonight and do another recorded is below.

Topic: Parent Recording #2
Start Time : Mar 24, 2020 02:00 PM

Meeting Recording:

I also have a letter from Dr. Tin (Gorham School Physician) below and as I mentioned in my video...the number to Maine Crisis Hotline is 1-888-568-1112.  Also, the link to the School Committee zoom meeting tomorrow night is:

Here is Dr. Tin's Letter...

Dear Gorham Public Schools families,
What a week it has been – with schools and businesses closing, people social distancing, and increasing numbers of positive cases in our communities, our lives have changed in unprecedented ways. I wanted to give you an update and address a few commonly asked questions on COVID-19, especially as there is some confusion and conflicting information out there about COVID-19.
First off, as the virus is now clearly spreading through our community, I want to urge everyone to step up our efforts at social distancing. I cannot emphasize this enough. As the epidemic continues to grow here in our community and across the globe, what we all can do is to maintain our physical distance. To see what social distancing can do to cut off transmission of the virus, see this nice diagram:
So what exactly does social distancing mean, and how does it differ from sheltering in place and self-quarantine?
Social distancing means increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. This means avoiding large gatherings, canceling meetings/conferences, closing schools/workplaces, and keeping six feet of space between each other when out in public. Just last week, we were discussing limiting large gatherings, BBQs, concerts, parties, etc. It is becoming clear that these restrictions are not enough. Health experts are urging more aggressive social distancing – avoiding leaving the home (except for essential trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, etc.), having play dates, having friends/visitors over, visiting the grandparents (and anyone over 60 who are at highest risk of severe illness), and going to playgrounds. Going to large parks or on a hike, walk or bike ride in more secluded areas is OK, if it’s somewhere you can easily maintain 6 feet of distance from others. This website has a nice Q&A on what is good social distancing:
Shelter in place - Several cities and states (not Maine, yet) have now issued shelter-in-place orders, which mandate non-essential businesses to close and people to stay in their homes except for essential activities, such as going to the grocery stores and pharmacies. Most such orders have provisions allowing walks, etc., outside, provided people keep 6 feet apart from one another.
Self-quarantine means staying at home, having no visitors, and keeping 6 feet of space from other members of your household. This is for those who have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive case or have been to an area thought to be high risk for COVID-19 exposure. This typically lasts 14 days.
Self-isolation is similar to self-quarantine, but it applies to those who have tested positive, or are suspected to have COVID-19.
What do I do if I have symptoms?
If you or your loved one has fever, cough or shortness of breath - call your primary care provider to see if they recommend evaluation and testing. While tests are in short supply and many clinics and hospitals are limiting testing to high-risk individuals, it is important to get advice based on your health history. Equally important, if testing is not recommended, you could still have COVID-19. If symptomatic, assume you have it and isolate yourself at home until your symptoms have resolved.
How long will this last?
Likely several months, but unfortunately nobody knows the answer. We are still early in this outbreak, and the virus is so new that there are many things we don’t understand about its behavior. A vaccine is unlikely to be available for over a year, and treatment is supportive at this point - all proposed medications are experimental and need much more study to prove their efficacy and safety.
In the meantime, I suggest you prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. If we do this right, the models show that we can slow the spread of the virus enough that health systems do not collapse: hospitals will have enough resources for the patients who need them, manufacturers can make enough personal protective equipment (PPE), and effective treatments and vaccines can be developed. There is hope: we just need to buy enough time for these things to happen.
What CAN my family do, and how can I stay sane during this time?
It is important to know what you CAN do as much as what you CANNOT. Beat cabin fever and stay active by going outside and enjoying the coming springtime – bike rides, hikes, runs, etc. with family – just maintain 6 feet separation from others. Exercising at home is a great option too, and apps and websites like Sworkit, Class Pass Live,, and Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube have classes and exercises to get your family moving and have fun. Engage socially: I have seen wonderful things happen in the community – neighbors reaching out to each other to offer help, people connecting through singalongs on the street, families connecting through FaceTime as never before, and teachers coming up with innovative ways to teach virtually.
What are good sources of information on coronavirus?
As things are changing so quickly, it can be difficult to get reliable, up-to-date information. The CDC and WHO are the leading authorities on the coronavirus.

I also think the Harvard and Johns Hopkins public health websites have excellent information.

As hard and scary as this has been, I see hope in what people are doing in the community to connect and support each other. Keep your physical distance from others, but make sure to socially and emotionally stay connected and take care of yourselves. We will get through this together.
Tin Ha-Ngoc, MD
School Physician
Gorham Public Schools

Monday, March 23, 2020

Monday, March 23 Update

Good evening everyone!  Here's my daily update for Monday, March 23, 2020!

FIRST - I WANTED FOLKS TO KNOW THAT THE LUNCH PROGRAM IS CANCELED TOMORROW, TUESDAY MARCH 24 DUE TO SNOW (WHICH ALSO MEANS THE BACKPACK PROGRAM IS CANCELED TOMORROW).  I know, I know...I never cancel the night before right!  Well up to ten inches tonight will make for a mess tomorrow morning and I didn't think it would be safe for folks to be walking to strange places to get meals, or for folks to be standing outside too long in those please know we will NOT be providing lunch tomorrow.  We will be back on schedule though starting Wednesday March 25.  

Also, folks who are interested should know that "Operation Feed Gorham" will be offering breakfast starting on 3/30/20.  This means that when individuals pick up their bagged lunches they will also be able to pick up a bagged breakfast.  Our intention is that once we have this new addition up and fully operational, we will then seek to offer both breakfast and lunch to the community via this program so stay tuned!

Upcoming Public Meetings

A reminder (that was posted last night so you can get the links from the previous post) the Gorham School Committee will be having its first public Zoom meeting on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 beginning at 6:30 p.m.   This meeting is a special meeting that will provide an update to the School Committee on our recent work to address issues related to COVID-19.  The School Committee will also be asked to approve of our "Distance Learning Plan".  Once the School Committee approves the plan I will send it out broadly to all of you via my blog post on Thursday.  After the special meeting, the School Committee will then move into a budget workshop meeting.  These meetings will be recorded and I will post them on this blog, on our website, and on the Town's website for viewing as well in case folks can't make it "live" to the zoom meeting itself.  If people have questions about how to access this meeting, please let me know.

I also want to remind folks about an upcoming "live" "Dunk and Discuss" that I have planned via zoom for Thursday night (3/26) at 6:00 p.m.  The link to this meeting is in last night's blog post as well.  There is no formal agenda...just a time for me to be online, for parents to join me and to ask questions, get answers (if I have them) and for me to LISTEN.  Let me know if you need me to send you the link information.

Phase II of Distance Learning Coming Soon!

As I have mentioned several times, the focus for the first two to three weeks of our distance learning program here in Gorham is on communication and the establishment of our new "distance classrooms".  Our teachers are hard at work communicating and making sure students are connecting and communicating their needs.  We are working hard to make sure this foundation is SOLID before moving onto what I am lovingly referring to as "Phase II" of our distance learning approach.  This second phase will be moving towards establishing learning expectations that will more closely align to what would otherwise have been occurring in our classrooms.  This means an alignment to our core curriculum for students in grades K-5 and an alignment to our graduation standards and performance indicators for students in grades 6-12 across all content areas.  This means things like taking attendance, assigning "work" and yes - GRADES!  

Where this is likely of a little higher priority is with our high school students and parents/guardians.  Please know Mr. Jandreau is meeting with Dr. Record to brainstorm ideas tomorrow.  These ideas will be shared with staff at the HS for feedback and they will be further vetted (at least initially discussed) with School Committee on Wednesday night and then discussed at length among District Leadership Team members and myself later this week and into early next before final decisions are made.  

As I say this, I realize some folks may currently not be comfortable in "Phase I"...which is absolutely OK.  Please do not panic...we are going to take this slow and will work with each student/family to differentiate plans in order to meet the needs of ALL students.  Some students/parents may be ready for this right now and are cheering...others may be having to grab the nearest paper bag...again...we will work with you...we will help and support you . . . and we will be with you every step of the way!  We promise!  

Our goal is to consider moving into "Phase II" to begin week #4, which would mean beginning the week of April 6 with these deeper learning opportunities.  Again, that is a goal...if we need to take a little longer we will in order to make sure this is done RIGHT.

Please stay tuned - much more to come!

Update Information on COVID-19 (From Colby A. Wyatt MD, PhD - a local Gorham Resident and parent)...

What we understand about COVID 19 (from a recent presentation by the American Academy of Pediatrics  ). 
It is distinct from the coronaviruses that cause the common cold
It is a novel corona virus thought to be the result of a combination of a coronavirus that infects bats and anteaters and developed the ability to infect humans.

It is currently present in over 155 countries worldwide.

The majority of the data we have regarding outcomes of infection come from cases in China
80% of the illnesses are mild
14% of the illnesses are severe
5% of the illnesses are critical

Only 2% of the cases reported were in children

Fever (88%)
Cough (68%)
Fatigue (38%)
Shortness of breath (19%)
Sore throat (14%)
Nasal congestion (5%)

2-14 days from exposure to becoming ill with a median of 5 days.

Why Social Distancing is Important – 6 feet apart for everyone

In South Korea they tested their entire population regardless of the presence of symptoms.  This likely explains the difference between the following graph and the graph of the age distribution in the state of Maine (above) where only sick patients are being tested.
Korea has tested over 300,000 citizens to date.


The age demographic with the greatest rate of infection were the 20 year olds.
However, these individuals were not significantly ill.  

Without social distancing the pool of infected, but well patients can spread the illness to older people, who we know are at much higher risk of complications from infection.

What to do

Limit in person social interactions.
No sleep overs
No play dates
Limit time in public places like grocery stores to only essential time needed to get supplies.
If your child does not need to be there, they should stay home.  
Do not go to restaurants, bars, or sporting events.  
No contact with sick people.

While you are at home

School Lunch – for those of you who received discounted or free school lunches most (all?) school districts are continuing this program while kids are home.  Each school district is accomplishing this in different ways.  Some have drop off sites.  Some have pick up times at the schools.  Please do not linger in groups during pick-ups.  It will be nice to see people, but larger groups of people are an opportunity for infection.  

Day to Day – Here are some ideas adapted from a friend of mine and fellow pediatric pulmonologist to help you feel better while you and your children are at home.  The advice is for both parents and children.  Structure can help normalize and provide context to your days.

1. If you're working from home, start your work day normally. Wake up the same time, shower if that's part of your routine. Comb your hair, brush your teeth, and eat your normal breakfast.

2. Get dressed. Put on real clothes, ideally something with a button/zipper. If you can't wear sweatpants to work, wearing them at home won't help motivate you. (Side note, if you wear sweatpants after work, that'll give you something to look forward to)

3. Work the way you do when you are at work. For kids, work the way you work when you are at school.  No television, no video games, no phones, and none of this during the school/work day. Sit at a table or desk, not on your couch or the floor.

4. If using Zoom/Skype/etc. for virtual meetings - put on your webcam. The social reward of seeing other people will help the feeling of isolation.

5. Lights on all day. Most of us don't work in the dark, so have your overhead lights on.

6. Take breaks. Stretching, a quick walk. Stay Hydrated.

7. Keep a normal-ish schedule.  If your work day is from 8 to 5, work 8 to 5.  If school is 8 to 2, do schoolwork from 8 to 2.  

8. SCHEDULE YOUR DAY. Schedule everything, even the non-work.  Include TV time, online shopping, social media, laundry, etc. Do this every morning, it'll help avoid "what do I do next?"

9. Don't get in your comfy spot (e.g. couch, bed, etc.) until the sun goes down.

10. Eat what you would normally eat on a work day. Save the fun food for the weekend.

11. Speaking of fun food.... we are all prone to snacking and eating when we are stressed or feeling bored or cooped up.  Eat good food first - fruits/veggies/normal food. Save the snacks for when you would snack at work or the evening, like on a normal work day.  

12. Try to get exercise. Yoga, workout vids, walks/runs outside (not with or around other people). This helps pass the time.

13. Schedule time to read about COVID-19. Avoid constantly looking things up. Don’t watch news channels.  Pandemics do not move at the speed of TV news.  Read your news.  Subscribe to a newspaper.  The pace of the pandemic is more suited to the written news cycle that the televised or internet cycle.  You will feel better not hearing about it all the time and be better informed.  

Hang in there - this is a marathon, not a sprint!!

Stay well,

Colby A. Wyatt MD, PhD

Sunday, March 22, 2020

School Committee Meetings & Other Online Meetings

Just wanted to quickly share information for the public on how to access an upcoming School Committee meeting that will be held via zoom on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 beginning at 6:30 p.m. 

I also wanted to share a few opportunities I am setting up for parents and community members to join me in a live Zoom meeting to get additional information, ask questions, and provide critical feedback that will help our school system continue to provide the best programming possible for our students while we continue our distance learning adventure!

March 25, 2020 School Committee Meeting

First, you can view the School Committee meeting agenda for March 25, 2020 starting at 6:30 p.m. via zoom by CLICKING HERE.  This meeting will be broken into TWO separate meetings.  The first will be a special meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m.  During his time, I will provide an update to the School Committee on our COVID-19 work.  I will then provide a review of the Gorham School's Distance Learning Plan which the school committee will need to approve in order to allow us to "waive" having to make up the days we have not been physically in school due to COVID-19.  After that, I will review recent flexibility announced by the legislature that allows us to hold our school committee meetings online and that will also allow us to potentially adjust our budget approval processes for FY 21.  Finally, I will ask the school committee to think about their upcoming meeting schedule and to adjust that as they deem necessary to meet our needs. 

After the agenda items for the special meeting are completed, we will adjourn that meeting and then re-open a new meeting for the purpose of reviewing our proposed FY 21 budget.  This is intentionally a workshop meeting so that it is clear that any decisions made during this meeting are "straw pole" in nature and not final until the school committee as a whole is asked to vote to approve a proposed FY 21 budget (which we hope will occur later in April).

BOTH MEETINGS (the Special meeting starting at 6:30 and the workshop meeting starting immediately after) ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC VIA ZOOM.  Additionally, both meetings have an opportunity for the public to comment before the school committee moves into the agenda.

We ask that members of the public who zoom into the meeting please make sure their side of the connection is muted immediately following entrance into the meeting.  Once the meeting begins, the chair (Stewart McCallister) will provide an overview and some quick training on how to use the zoom platform to provide public comments.  Given that the school committee has much to talk about, the public comments portion of the agenda may be limited as needed by the chair to ensure that appropriate time remains for the school committee to conduct its business.

The link to the meeting, as well as a phone number to join the meeting can be found on the agenda itself (linked above), but just in case, I have also included the internet link below:

Finally, it is important to know that the meeting will be recorded in its entirety and posted on our website for members of the public to view.

Opportunities For Parents to Communicate Directly with Superintendent Perry

I am converting my already scheduled "Dunk and Discuss" meeting series into an online platform for parents to join me.  ANY PARENT who wishes to join either via web or phone on the dates and times listed below is welcome to do so.  Just like the "Dunk and Discuss" meetings, there will be no formal agenda.  These times will be an opportunity for me to share any updated general information, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, these meetings will be a time for me to answer questions...and to collect valuable feedback on how we are doing in this brave new world of distance learning.  That  important information can then be taken back to the District Leadership Team to use in future planning and to make necessary "tweaks" to our systems moving forward.

Below is a list of the dates for each zoom meeting as well as a table with web and phone links.  Please mark your calendars accordingly and let me know if you have questions!

Meeting Date/Time
Web Link
Phone Link
March 26 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

April 1 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

April 9 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

April 14 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

In closing I wanted to continue to re-emphasize the importance of social distancing.  Below is an image shared with me by our very own Dr. Colby Wyatt (A Doctor and Parent of students here in Gorham)...I thought it might help send an important message in a humorous way!  ENJOY!☺

Public Service Announcement:

With COVID-19, This is safer than letting your kids have a sleepover or hang out with friends right now:

I will continue to send at least one broad update each evening via this blogsite to all parents Sunday - Friday each week.   As always, if you have any questions, please email me at


Friday, March 20, 2020

March 20, 2020 Update

Good evening everyone!  Just wanted to send out a few quick tidbits of information to folks before I shut down for the weekend.  Yes, I know - no video...I'm sorry...I'll do that some more next week.  Right now, I feel like without copious amounts of makeup (which I am NOT a makeup person if you didn't guess)...the camera just isn't for me tonight!   Wanted to get some important information out to folks I'll get right to it:

New Guidelines from CDC

The CDC released some new guidelines for testing for COVID-19 as well as some new guidelines for home isolation that I thought would be useful for all of you.  These new guidelines are LINKED HERE but basically the jist of it is that they are limiting testing to folks that are in the "high risk" category in order to conserve tests for patients that may develop more serious symptoms.  Give this a good read when you get a chance this weekend please.

Special Education Letter from Kathy Hamblen

Kathy Hamblen sent out the letter LINKED HERE today to all special education families.  If you haven't already read it, please do.  Kathy and her team of special educators are working hard to get our IEP's fully operational over the course of the next amazing team!  Kudos to the team for this important work!

Tech Help

As we continue to navigate this new world of education...I wanted to make sure parents knew how to access technical assistance from our staff.  We have a few methods that folks can choose from.  Here you go:

*  High School students/parents:  Email Mr. Parvanta ( and/or Mr. Daggett (
*  Middle School students/parents:  Email Mrs. Dawson ( and/or Mr. Nash (
*  Elementary Students/Parents:  Email your teacher and/or Mrs. Gauley (

Parents, you can also email  This goes directly into a helpdesk ticket system monitored by several people.  We will then assign the problem too the appropriate person.

You can also call.  Sometimes you need tech support because you can't get online!  Imagine that!  We have set up a tech support hotline at 222-1188.  We will make every effort to answer your calls from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  However, feel free to call at any time and leave a voice mail with your phone number, a brief description of your problem, and the appropriate time to call back. Your voice mail will to go a mailbox being monitored by several people and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Finally, you can email Dennis Crowe ( with any general questions, comments, or feedback.

Thank you Techies!

School Nutrition Program Update

A reminder that folks can pick up lunches from 11:00 - 1:00 Monday through Friday at each of FOUR satellite locations:

1.  Little Falls Recreation Center, 40 Acorn Street (this is a change from yesterday when we said Gray Road).

2.  Moody's Collision Center, 200 Narragansett Street

3.  Phinney Lumber, 519 Fort Hill Road (Route 114) and

4.  Friendly Village Community Center

"Operation Feed Gorham" has already fed well over 600 people these past few days...our goal is to make sure no one goes hungry in Gorham during these difficult times!  We will be expanding this program to include anyone in the community soon, so stay tuned.  Thank you to Cindy Hazelton and the Gorham Recreation Department for working with us to expand this program to serve the community as a whole!

The Gorham Schools Backpack program is still operational as well.  Best place to get information on that is through their facebook page!  Heather is doing a great job keeping that up and fully up to date!

Digital Safety

As we continue down this path of "distance learning" especially with students in grades 4-12 who are now primarily using 1:1 devices at home to stay engaged in their learning, I just wanted to take a moment to remind parents of the importance of monitoring children when they are using their devices.  We will do our part, and in fact we are purchasing some software that will be added to machines (via distance) within the next week that is called "Securely software"...but even above and beyond that - its important for parents to take time to talk with students about digital safety.  Students should know that it is not ok to share their login information with anyone.  They should be wary of how and what they search on line for.  And most of all they should be mindful to ALWAYS BE KIND to one another as they interact using different types of digital platforms.

A great resource in this area has always been, and continues to be a group called "Common Sense Media".   I've linked the page so you can check it out...I usually go right to the "Parents Need to Know" section...but definitely wanted to mention this so you could all be mindful and help talk with your students about the importance of online safety.

The Importance of Social Distancing

I wanted to share one more "Plea" regarding the importance of social distancing.  I've included a great LINK HERE to an informative webpage geared towards parents and children on this important topic.  The important piece here is to think of it more like PHYSICAL distancing (6 feet minimum) but not necessarily "social" distancing.  A delicate balance indeed, but an important distinction as we all begin to battle the "cabin fever" that may be associated with self quarantine or home isolation.

In Closing...I just wanted to share a picture of something that Mr. Porter came across at Village Elementary School today when he went  into the building to check in on things...WE MISS OUR STUDENTS to whoever sent this along . . . THANK YOU  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

I am shutting off now...see you all again on Monday!

School Closures Extended to April 27, 2020

Dear Gorham School Community,

I am writing to let you know that given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in our region, and the recent declaration of Governor Mills of a Civil Emergency, The Gorham Schools will be extending our school closures until Monday, April 27, 2020.  Of course as conditions continue to change we will constantly re-assess this decision and make adjustments as conditions may warrant it.  Please continue to follow daily updates on my blog posts, which can be found from the main page of our Gorham Website

During this time all schools and school facilities will be closed to the public as they have been for the past week.  Our teachers will continue to work with care, thoughtfulness and skill to provide learning opportunities for ALL students.  A letter will be going out later today from Kathy Hamblen more specifically addressing the needs of our special education students.  Our daily school lunch program will be expanding soon to include breakfast and lunch and plans are to open up the program to community wide needs by the end of this month.  If you are in need of a school lunch, this program is open to ANY FAMILY.  Please reach out to

During this first week of distance learning, we have moved into a different way of conducting school.  Our aim this first week has been to connect with our students, provide some structure and have all, students and teachers alike, experience a degree of success.  We have provided meals at four sites across the community and worked to ensure that all of our students and families have resources to make sure that learning continues to happen.  We are proud of the work that the staff and community have done together this week. At the same time we know that this is not a sprint, but a marathon. We will look forward to partnering with our community to keep learning happening while keeping our community safe.

As this closure goes longer, I know more and more parents are beginning to ask questions like:  Will our children’s school work be graded?  Will students be “held back” because of this, will my senior graduate?  How will credits be awarded?  Etc.  Please know we are working to address those very questions at this moment in time and we will soon have more detailed answers.  In the meantime, I want to re-emphasize that at this time, our focus should remain on creating the most effective structures for communication possible between home and school.  It will be upon these solid structures that we will need to build a more robust system as we move along together.  Bottom line, please communicate with teachers – what is working well?  What isn’t working?  Do you need support in specific areas? This information will allow our teachers to continue to modify and adjust their programming to meet your needs and the needs of your children moving forward.

Please know that while all of this is occurring everyone is working very hard to support YOU and your family!  Our teachers are preparing high quality instructional programming to be delivered online, our educational technicians are learning and preparing to support individual learners as we continue this work, Our food service workers and drivers continue to prepare and deliver nutritious meals to all ages, our facilities staff are doing the hard work of cleaning our buildings and making them safe to continue to use and to eventually re-open, our clerks and office staff are behind the scenes organizing it all, our nurses and checking in with families and staff to monitor health, our special ed. staff are working to support families and students, our social workers and guidance counselors are supporting individual families and small groups of students, and our administrators are working hard to coordinate, collaborate, and lead almost 3,000 students, 500+ employees and still maintain their own personal wellness!

Finally, as our health professionals continue to remind all of us: wash your hands, wipe down surfaces, practice social distancing, try not to touch your face, cover your mouth with your arm if you are coughing or sneezing, and stay at home if you are sick.  These habits continue to be the most effective defense and our best chance to slow the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  I will continue to post updates on a daily basis.  Most importantly, take care of one another.

We are so proud to serve the children and community of Gorham. We know that together we will meet the challenges ahead to keep our students learning and our community safe.  PROUD TO BE A RAM!

Thank you!

Heather J. Perry,
Superintendent of Schools