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 conditions...so 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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?
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
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!!
Colby A. Wyatt MD, PhD