Good evening everyone! HAPPY WEDNESDAY! I wanted to reach out briefly on a few items, and also to take a moment to celebrate! First a few items of "Business"...
Satellite Lunch Program - Operation "Feed Gorham"
Looks like we served just under 150 lunches today (our first day). We planned for 240 lunches so still room to grow. We anticipate that participation in this program will grow over time, so we are encouraging families who would like to participate to email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know - or you can stop by one of our four satellite locations from 11:00 - 1:00 p.m. for a lunch. We'll take care of you and then based on participation is how we'll plan future numbers. THANK YOU to all our volunteers and support staff who are helping to put this program together. Here's a photo below to show you their enthusiasm!
Reporting of Illness
I just wanted to make clear to families that at this time, with schools closed, although our nurses may still be doing some health checks with families, we do not have an expectation that families call us with updates on potential illness of students. We have had some families call us with information about students who may or may not have been exposed to COVID-19. At this point in time, with the CDC acknowledging that community spread is occurring in Cumberland County, ME. it is important to know that it is the CDC's responsibility (through your PCP) to communicate with folks who may or may not have been exposed to certain individuals. The school is not able to perform this task. Therefore, it you are concerned that you or your family has been exposed to COVID-19 it is much more important that you reach out to your PCP and listen to their guidance and instruction than it is to let us know - although please know we are here or you to reach out to and listen if you need us so please do not hesitate to do so!
Also, as was the case before the world of COVID-19, the schools cannot control what is posted on social media. We will continue to use our social media sites to share the "good work" going on in our community and thankfully there is PLENTY OF THAT GOING ON...but we can't promise others will do the same. That's really all I can say about that. ☺
Tomorrow Begins Distance Instructional Programming
Tomorrow is the day! We will begin distance learning tomorrow across all schools and all grades. Again, K-3 will be packet based and grades 4-12 will be google classroom and other online learning based. Principals will be following up with families that may not have picked up chrome books in grades 4 &5. They will also be following up with K-3 families who may not have gotten packets. If you are struggling with internet access at your home, we want you to please reach out to our school principals so they are aware and can work with your families to differentiate plans.
Overall, let's be sure to take this slow the first week or so! Focus on making sure YOU feel comfortable communicating with teachers. Remember, for grades K-5 teachers should be communicating through you as parents. For grades 6-12 teachers are communicating directly with students so as parents, you need to make sure students are checking their emails, etc. Let's ALL stay in touch though...I'm sure teachers are open to feedback about what is working and what isn't and I am also very sure we want to know these things so that we can tweak and adjust programming to make things work moving forward. If we wind up having to go longer than 2 weeks, it will be important we have a solid communication base to build on to improve our systems and ensure they are working for Gorham.
Sharing the "Good Stuff"
If families want to take pictures of their students learning online, I'd love to have them share! I think using the hashtag #Gorhamlearningtogether would be awesome if folks want to post pictures on twitter and use that hashtag and go ahead and loop me in (@hperrysup). Would love to see them and re-tweet and maybe even share on Facebook site too! Let's do what we do best - CELEBRATE THE GOOD!
Right now, we have closed schools for 2 weeks, but I will be honest the more and more information that comes in about what is going on in Cumberland County it would be prudent for families to expect that this is likely going to be a longer stint than just two weeks. More information will be coming out either later this week or early next on these details as final decisions are made so please stay tuned.
I heard a story today about one of our teachers who reached out to a 6-12 student to check in and make sure they were all set for tomorrow. The teacher's intent was to check in with the student...but the student actually took the time to turn the conversation around and to check in with the teacher. The student talked with the teacher for a good while...making sure the teacher was doing ok. I share this story to illustrate just how important our relationships are between our students and our staff and to show you that even via a distance...THEY ARE STRONG.
I wanted to share one more story...I got an email last night from a parent. This parent was a working mom with 3 elementary aged students. She was so very kind and polite to me, but basically her message was this: She is still having to work, she is still having to be a mom, and now, somehow the schools are asking her to also be a "teacher" - how could she maintain her sanity and do all those things? The answer is simple...she couldn't. The answer is also simple to us all. This is NOT about school work...this is not about making sure a student can add 2 + 2. This is about relationships and community and supporting one another to do the best we can with what we have. If at the end of all this, when we finally set things back up straight again - her daughter didn't do this and this, we will figure that all out together. NO ONE IS GOING TO PUNISH OUR STUDENTS for doing the best they can. No one is going to punish our families for doing the best they can. No one is going to punish our schools or our community for doing the best we can. If it comes down to reading a book to your child instead of forcing them to do those two worksheets sent home by teachers... then read the book! Then reach out to our teachers to tell em what you did and why...and we'll figure out the rest. Let's take care of EACH OTHER first...the rest will come.
THANK YOU GORHAM...WE GOT THIS!