Good evening. I wanted to reach out with a VERY BRIEF update to the public regarding COVID-19 based upon Governor Mill's announcements earlier today. My plan is to provide a more COMPREHENSIVE UPDATE to everyone tomorrow afternoon that will bring parents and community members completely up to speed with the Gorham School System's Pandemic Planning efforts.
As of today, Thursday, March 12, 2020, Maine has reported ONE presumed positive case of Coronavirus 19 (COVID-19). That case is in Androscoggin County and the Maine Center for Disease Control (Maine CDC) says we currently are not seeing widespread community transmission in Maine. However, the Gorham School Department is being vigilant in stepping up our own precautions to help prevent any spread of the virus in our community.
Today, a memo was sent out to all staff detailing clear expectations regarding sanitation practices, reporting of symptoms, and other early pandemic planning procedural expectations for staff across the district. We also made decisions today to cancel the following events that were scheduled for either tonight, or tomorrow night, or that met the Governor's recommendations for canceling all "non-essential events involving 250 or more people":
* GMS Swim meet
* GMS track meet
* GMS drama performance
I will be meeting with Superintendents from across Cumberland County tomorrow morning to make further decisions regarding other upcoming events and to work on the establishment of a common protocol for these decisions to be made across our region with local exceptions being made. It is because of this meeting that I am waiting to update a full blog post to the public for tomorrow afternoon so this new information can be included and answers to questions about which events will still be held and which ones canceled may be answered more definitively.
Please know that neither Governor Janet Mills, nor the Maine CDC is recommending schools to be closed at this time. Our focus, therefore, is to keep our schools open while protecting the school environment so that our students and staff stay healthy and safe. COVID-19 spreads through close person-to-person contact, so we are taking measures and precautions to address this. We are stepping up our cleaning protocols and we are looking to limit public access to student gatherings as well as POSSIBLE cancellation of inter-district activities and field trips. Again, tomorrow morning's meeting will allow me to finalize these decisions and report them to you by tomorrow afternoon in an updated Blog Post so please stay tuned and know that we are working on finalizing these decisions soon.
Also in tomorrow's blog post, I will outline the broad plans for how we MIGHT continue to provide instruction for students in Gorham if our schools are closed for an extended period of time. This will be a very important blog post - so please stay tuned!
In the meantime, I have had some recent questions regarding parent/teacher conferences. We spoke as an administrative team today and decided that we will continue with our parent/teacher conferences as they are such an integral part of what we do in our schools. However, we have also placed some protocols in place to make these conferences safe for our staff and for all of you who will be attending. First, it is important to know that our staff will be practicing social distancing as part of our conferences. What this means is that the staff won't be rude, but they will not shake hands. Also, they may sit on one side of a table with you (Parents) on the other side to provide the social distance recommended by CDC (approx. 6 feet). We are also asking that if parents or children are experiencing any symptoms that you stay home and instead call your teacher to reschedule or possibly conduct the P/T conference via phone.
Again, much more will be coming out in my blog post tomorrow - but for now, I wanted to make sure to get this updated information out and to let you know MUCH MORE is coming once I have finalized decisions.
This is a constantly evolving landscape we are now entering. It is going to require a strong community to help get us through the difficult time that is coming. I have no doubt the community of Gorham is up for the challenge! Please keep returning to this blog page for more updates...this will be my primary mode of communication for families where all notices can be archived, made searchable, and listed in chronological order (most recent at the top) for your convenience!
More tomorrow! As always - any questions, please ask - firstname.lastname@example.org