Welcome back to the Gorham Schools during this historic year! And what a year it has been! It feels like just yesterday we were making the difficult decisions to close schools and to turn our entire educational system into a virtual learning model in a matter of two days this past March…but alas…it has been almost five months since then! WOW!
There is no question this will be an opening of school like no other here in Gorham. We are opening our schools in an entirely different model, attempting to balance the safety needs of our students, staff and community with meeting the educational needs of our children which we know are best served in an in person environment. We have put in A TON of work these past few months to try to strike this very delicate balance for our families and I am excited for the re-opening of our schools as I know our staff is as well.
The first day back for group “B” students will be Tuesday, Sept. 8. The first day back for group “A” students will be Wednesday, Sept. 9. Because of the Labor Day Holiday on that Monday, group “A”s 2nd face-to-face instruction day that week will be held on Friday, September 11. A new school calendar showing A and B days is posted on our district website.
Our Remote learning option will also begin for all students who signed up for this program on Tuesday, Sept. 8. We will be sending out more information to our families participating in this option soon – but TWO important dates to mark on your calendar for now are the two training sessions we have set up for use of our online systems. One is for K-5 parents /students and the other is for 6-12 parents/students of remote learners. Here’s the information below to mark in your calendars:
1. Exact Path In-depth training for K-5 Parents & Students (virtual staff should join)
- 9/1 6pm -7pm
2. Courseware In-Depth training for 6-12 Parents & Students (virtual staff should join)
- 9/1 7 pm – 8 pm
I wanted to make sure parents are also aware of our new COVID-19 Information and Resources page on our website. It is right on the main page. Just go to www.gorhamschools.org and then look at the top middle of the page for a tab that says “COVID-19”. There is A LOT of information out there so we wanted to try and consolidate all the important stuff related to the Gorham Schools in one location…so please check it out.
Start and end times this year will be the same times as last year. For Great Falls, Narragansett and Village Elementary Schools they are 8:50 a.m. and 3:10 p.m. For GMS the start time is 8:00 a.m. and end time is 2:20 p.m. and for GHS the start time is 7:50 and the end time is 2:10. Of course as we work out our new transportation schedules and parent pick up and drop off schedules these times may vary for the first several weeks of school. I would encourage patience and flexibility as we work through our new processes this year – especially on the transportation front. Thanks in advance!
We will be posting our new updated A and B grouping bus routes on the district’s website. You can find them by going to www.gorhamschools.org then clicking on “About Us” then clicking on “District Departments” and then clicking on “Transportation”. I will also send an email message with the direct link when they are ready. We anticipate being able to get our new bus route information out by Tuesday, Sept. 1 so please stay tuned.
I know many parents are also concerned about extra curricular programs for students. I will be honest, right now those are a little “up in the air” due to as of yet unresolved issues between the MPA and MDOE/CDC whereby the current MPA guidelines for athletics are not approved by CDC as guidelines that schools can use. I know that right now the MPA is working diligently with the CDC and MDOE to rectify this situation and to hopefully come up with a way in which fall sports can still occur safely for our students but this may not be possible. Fundamentally, I want parents to know that in Gorham we believe strongly in the power of offering these important programs to our students. We should know more by Thursday (8/27) from the MPA, but regardless of that outcome, the Gorham Schools is committed to offering these types of learning experiences to our students in a safe environment. Therefore, we will either move forward with implementation of MPA guidelines that have been approved by MDOE/CDC (if they can be completed in time) OR we will move forward with a plan to implement our own “intramural” style activities for our students. One way or the other – we will offer our students these important experiences. Please stay tuned.
As I mentioned twice to “please stay tuned”…I should probably tell you how best TO STAY TUNED! First, please make sure you are getting our email messages through the School Messenger system. You can reach out to your school’s administrative assistants to double check you are in the system if you are not sure. Second, you should check in on my blog. You can do that by going to our website (www.gorhamschools.org) and once on the main page, go to the top right corner and click on the “Info” tab. I might also suggest you like our district Facebook page and follow us on twitter. You can access both those sites from our district website as well in the top right corner of the front page.
In closing, I just want to say THANK YOU to all our Gorham families, staff and community members for your participation in our planning processes for the re-opening of our schools. Whenever I sent out a survey, you responded. Whenever I put out a forum meeting, you attended. Whenever I said “email me with questions” you did! As a result of your participation in these planning processes and your willingness to listen, to share ideas and problem solve together, I am confident that our plan to re-open schools is a solid one. I am confident that our opening will be positive and as Gorham always does…I am confident we will continue to work together to solve any other problems that COVID-19 wants to throw at us! I remain so very proud to be a Gorham Ram! GO RAMS! WE GOT THIS! SEE YOU SOON!
Heather J. Perry, Superintendent of Schools