Good evening everyone...its been a little while since my last "big" post giving you all an update on what great things we have in store for folks in Gorham to help make the canceling of school just a little more tolerable to the students and families we serve. It has taken us a few days to get our "feet" under us - but as is typical of the people in Gorham, we have come together, we have solved problems and we are ready to move forward as a community! I have LOTS to share...so I'll try to be brief on each section and use clear headings to help folks navigate. Here goes...
Satellite School Lunch Program Begins TOMORROW!
So far we have 88 families signed up for a total of 130 lunches for "Operation Feed Gorham". We aren't sure if more folks might decide they need a lunch so we are preparing 240 meals to make sure each site has extras so if you didn't already sign up but wish to participate, please do!
We are going to arrange delivery for 14 families who are unable to get to a site. If you are a family that needs this kind of service, please email Michael Sanborn (Our School Nutrition coordinator) at firstname.lastname@example.org and he can work to add you to the list. Our FOUR sites are:
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
Meals will be available daily from 11:00 - 1:00 at these locations.
Meals are being prepared at Gorham Middle School and Gorham High School by our extremely talented school nutrition workers and are being delivered to each location by our bus drivers using school vans. Bus drivers and other school personnel will be on site to help distribute. Each site is designed for DRIVE-UP DISTRIBUTION. Drivers should pull up, staff will ask how many lunches. Lunches are set on a table next to the car and the driver will reach out the window to take lunches (if they can) or if not, bags will be handed to folks directly through their car windows. Friendly Village will also have a walk-up option. Site staff will wear gloves and maintain a 6 feet distance at all times to practice and modeling appropriate social distancing techniques. All sites will have hand sanitizer.
In addition to school lunches, Volunteers with the Backpack Program will distribute bags Wednesday and Friday of this week (one per family this week). Right now the backpack program is looking for folks who may be interested in donating food items to do so using the Gorham Food Pantry. They are seeking Canned pasta like spaghetti-o's, boxed pasta, kid juices, kid snacks, crackers, pasta side dishes, toiletries, canned fruit, paper towels, and toilet paper if folks are interested in donating. There are donation locations set up at the Gorham Police Department for this program.
I fully expect that as we get this program up and fully operational more folks will want to participate and we may need additional volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact either Chris Record (email@example.com) or Cindy Hazelton (Gorham Recreation Director, email on the Town's website).
If folks have questions, please call Gorham Middle School and we will route you up to the School Nutrition Office from there.
4th and 5th Grade Chrome Book Distribution
Distribution of Chrome books to all students in grade 4 across all three elementary schools began today. Chrome book distribution for all students in grade 5 will be occurring across all three elementary schools tomorrow (Wednesday). By the end of the evening tomorrow we hope to have all Chromebooks for students in grades 4&5 delivered to families. If you have either elected not to pick up a chromebook for your 4th or 5th grade student or you somehow missed the distribution information, please reach out to your school's principal's office. Each principal will be following up as well to make sure everyone that needs one - has one.
Instructional Plans for "Distance Learning"
I believe you have probably already begun to get messages from teachers regarding their plans for carrying out this new instructional model. Principals have either already sent home an overview of what to expect or one will be going out to each of you tomorrow (Wednesday). If you haven't heard anything by Wednesday night, please reach out to your schools principal's office on Thursday morning. Just so parents are aware - if your student is in grades K-5, the person teachers will be primarily reaching out to will be YOU as the parent. For students in grades 6-12 teachers plan on directly connecting with students...so you should make sure students are checking their emails (I know - archaic right).
Additionally, it is important to understand that for students in grades K-3 the primary methodology of learning will be conducted through "packets" that are sent home by teachers where the primary methodology of learning for students in grades 4-12 will be using "online learning methods through google classroom and other online tools.
Finally, it is important to know that while a few teachers might try to bring students together via zoom or google meets to have "class meetings" at least initially this is not the focus of our new system. Most learning will take place initially in a manner that doesn't require everyone to be at a given place at a given time. Instead weekly directions and expectations will be made clear by each teacher and it is up to students/families to work with each teacher to accomplish the assigned tasks. We are trying to keep things pretty simple and low key this first week or so while we "polish" our communications systems and prepare for the possibility that school may very likely be closed down longer than these initial two weeks. If that becomes the case, we will need to attempt to move from just "maintaining" learning (the first few weeks) to trying to provide actual rigorous instruction ...but one step at a time!
If you don't have internet access at home in a way that allows for use of these devices for this type of purpose, please reach out to your school's principal. We are working on options and need to identify who needs this kind of assistance.
If you are interested in volunteering in our community to help our in ways that are either already identified (like school lunch) or in ways YET to be identified. I ask that you reach out to either Chris Record (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to Cindy Hazelton (Gorham Recreation Director - email on Town website). These two folks are kindly taking the reigns in organizing our community's volunteer response to the new world that has been created by COVID-19.
Resources From School Nurses
I asked our school nurses to think about things that families may wish to consider while having either their college age or school age children at home for a bit. Our nurses came up with this great resource sheet with all kinds of great links. I thought I'd share. Here's the LINK.
School Facilities Reminder
Finally, I just wanted to remind folks that our facilities are shut down to the general public. While we will maintain a daily presence in our administrative offices, we will be closing all offices to the public. If you need to reach out to anyone in our schools you can either email them (staff email contacts are on our websites under each school) or you can call our schools and we can direct you from there. If you have a need to get into one of our buildings, say to arrange to pick up medications or something a student left behind in their lockers, please call the school to arrange.
Also, please know that although our playgrounds are available for use, we are unable to sanitize them and we would discourage their use by families, especially if folks begin to gather in groups of 10 or more. It just becomes very difficult to use our social distancing protocols in these situations. A better option might be to use some of Gorham's great walking or biking trails, or to even use the outdoor track or fields to walk, etc. Again, the key (have I said this enough times) is to maintain social distance!
I think that is about it for this blog post. I'll touch base again at the end of the week with any other odds and ends that may need to be communicated. Again, this blog is my primary information source, so please keep checking!
THANK YOU EVERYONE! STAY SAFE! THE GORHAM SCHOOL STAFF ARE THINKING OF ALL OF YOU AND SENDING OUR BEST AND MOST SUPPORTIVE THOUGHTS YOUR WAY! I can't repeat enough HOW PROUD I AM TO BE A GORHAM RAM! To watch this community come together...time and time again...SO PROUD! GO RAMS!