I hope everyone had a great St. Patrick's Day and that you have all recovered from the loss of that hour of sleep last weekend! I don't know about you but that always throws me for a loop and takes me at least a few days to recalibrate! All set now though and absolutely READY FOR SPRING! I do apologize for those of you that are snow lovers...but I do think the rest of us have been patient and it is most definitely time for that warmer weather!
As usual, lots to share, but before I get into the meat of the message for this blog post - I wanted to start as I have been starting - by sharing some pictures that give you just a glimpse into what has been happening the past few weeks here in the Gorham Schools! I do hope you notice all those smiles!
While we enjoy our new found visible smiles, I would encourage us to remember key health and safety practices that will still be followed across all our schools. I've added a few more Q&A pieces that I have gathered from our nurses to help make sure folks remain clear on our continued safety protocols. These are questions they have received frequently over the past few weeks, so bear repeating. Please read/review and reach out if you have additional questions and remember...
1. STAY HOME IF SICK
2. Wash/Sanitize those hands frequently
3. Keep that physical distance when possible
4. As the weather warms, get outside as much as possible - best air ventilation systems are "mother nature"!
Q: Now that there is no universal masking protocol, what happens if I am a close contact to someone with Covid-19 (including someone in my household)?
If you were exposed to Covid-19 and are NOT up-to-date on Covid-19 Vaccinations: Quarantine at home for 5 days and wear a mask at school (and all public settings) on days 6-10
If you were exposed to Covid-19 and are up-to-date on Covid-19 vaccinations OR had confirmed Covid-19 within the past 90 days: Wear a mask at school (and all public settings) for 10 days
Refer to the most recent SOP (3/8/22) for more information
Q: If my child has had a positive Covid test and is due to return to school, will they be required to wear a mask when they return to school? Even if they have no residual symptoms?
A: Yes. They will be required to mask on days 6-10
Q: If I chose not to test my child for Covid and instead elect to keep them out of school for 5 days, will they be required to wear a mask when they return to school?
A: Yes. Your child will be considered “presumed positive” for Covid and will therefore be required to mask on days 6-10
Q: If my child is sick, and I test them for Covid that day and it is negative, can I send them to school as long as they wear a mask?
A: No, If you child is sick, keep them at home
Q: What are the masking guidelines for student transportation (Riding the bus etc)?
A: Effective February 25, 2022, CDC and Gorham Schools do not** require wearing of masks on buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including early care and education/child care programs. **Unless you are currently required to be masking because you are a close contact or are returning to school after having Covid-19**
Please reach out with any questions you may have. Your school nurses are here to help!
FEDERAL ESSER FUNDS (CARES ACT) UPDATE
Over the past two years the Gorham Schools have been the recipient of federal CARES Act dollars to assist us in moving through and navigating the unforeseen and daunting challenges associated with operating public schools during a global pandemic. There have been three major funding streams:
1. CARES ESSER I
2. CRRSA ESSER II
3. ARP ESSER III
It is important that we expend these funds in a transparent manner so that taxpayers and others know and understand how we have best utilized these funds in a manner to assist our students in sustainable ways. Below is an outline of each grant fund total allocation and a summary of expenditures to date thus far for funding.
CARES ESSER I ( Total Allocation to Gorham: $187,306.44)
These funds were utilized to help pay for additional staff that were needed to support our schools as we operated under global pandemic conditions. The vast majority of these funds were utilized to support 2 full time substitute teachers across each of our five schools. As you may recall, our substitute pool dropped from 95 individuals to just 25 individuals during the height of the pandemic for obvious reasons as many of our substitutes were retired individuals who needed to be cautious with their own health and wellbeing and understandably so. However, as we continued to operate within a pandemic, required quarantines, and absences for staff due to illness reached an all time high. These much positions helped us continue to keep our schools open for students even during these challenging times.
These funds have been fully expended.
CRRSA ESSER II ( Total Allocation to Gorham: $777,000.00)
These funds were used for a variety of Pandemic Related purposes. Once again, strengthening staffing capacity was a huge focus to ensure the continued operation of our schools. These funds continued to support Full time substitutes across each of our five schools. These funds also supported the continuation of what we called "Clinic aid" positions which were positions added specifically to assist our school nurses in contact tracing and communication with families in managing our COVID 19 safety protocols. Additionally, funds were expended here to help reduce class sizes at our K-2 grade levels across all three schools for the 2021-22 School year. This allowed our classroom teachers to better differentiate and support students who may have been struggling as a result of the pandemic academically or in areas related to social/emotional learning. Funding was also utilized to upgrade our wireless infrastructure at GMS and GHS as we continued to use technology to help bridge gaps in student learning when they were out for quarantine or isolation periods. Funding was also used to purchase additional educational materials for students to aid in at home learning and to provide supplemental materials for our teachers to use in their daily instruction. Finally, funds were also used to help support our transportation system as we worked to ensure an appropriate number of bus runs to help keep safe physical distancing on our buses.
By the conclusion of the 2021-22 School Year, these funds will be fully expended.
ARP ESSER III (Total Allocation To Gorham: $1,751,611.06)
These funds are funds that we have begun to use in the 2021-22 School year but will also likely extend use through the 2022-23 School Year to continue to support our schools.
Funds already spent have supported the following programs:
- Spring, 2021 Summer Bridge Learning Program - we offered four weeks of instructional programming via zoom to qualifying RTI students across grades K-8.
- Summer, 2021 Enrichment Programming - we contracted services with Gorham Recreation Department to provide fun programming for our summer learners for a six week program.
- Summer, 2021 Learning program - we provided a six week academic and SEL focused learning program for 90 at risk students across the district.
- Reveal Math Curriculum - we purchased a new K-9 Math curriculum to strengthen and bolster our math instruction across these important grades to address areas of identified need.
- Class size reduction - We used funding to add additional teachers at grades 3-5 to reduce class sizes so that teachers could provide more targeted and differentiated instruction for students in need across the board in academic and social emotional learning.
- COVID Support positions - We used funding to continue to support full time substitutes, lunch duty monitors, and the addition of a full time substitute school nurse that works across all five schools.
- Air quality project - we identified a space at GHS that required additional HVAC work to ensure high quality air ventilation and circulation was occurring. Repairs were made over the summer.
We will also utilize funds to operate a summer learning program this summer for students identified as needing this additional summer learning "boost".
Through the 2021-22 School Year & additional summer programming we will have expended approximately $1.4 million of the total allocation, leaving us approximately $350,000.00 to work with for FY 23. We are building plans on how best to utilize this funding to support our students now as we work on our comprehensive FY 23 Budget Development process.
This overview demonstrates that we have indeed utilized these funds and utilized them well to support our children in Gorham. There is some "press" out there saying schools haven't used these funds, or that they have been "sitting on these funds" and I want you to know that is most definitely NOT the case in Gorham. I hope you can see from the summary above that we have found numerous ways to utilize these funds to best support our schools and the students we serve with the primary focus of providing required capacity and support to keep our schools fully operational throughout the course of this pandemic, providing much needed services to our children and families even during the most difficult of times.
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any follow up questions via email (email@example.com).
LITTLE RAMS UPDATE
I've mentioned this work a few times in past blogs, but I wanted to take a quick moment to provide an update to the community on where this work is and where we are headed.
First, a reminder - what is this work?
The Little Rams Early Childhood Project is a powerful partnership of schools, child care programs, educators, parents, businesses, and local organizations and leaders. We engage the community in prioritizing our youngest Gorham children with a focus on early learning, nurturing care, and healthy development ages birth - age 5. Our vision is that All children and families in Gorham have access to quality early learning experiences that promote healthy development and school/community readiness. We are working to Develop a written early childhood vision report for the community of Gorham. This report will include (but not be limited to):
A Vision for early childhood learning (birth - 5) for Gorham
An Assessment of current community assets to build towards actualizing this vision.
An Assessment of current community gaps in actualizing this vision.
Creation of draft priority action steps and approximate timelines for work needed to make the early childhood learning vision a reality in Gorham.
The Gorham Action Team for Youth (GATY), in collaboration with The Opportunity Alliance will be sponsoring two evenings of learning for Gorham Parents/Guardians. One night is geared towards MS/HS level and the other is geared more towards K-5 level. The topic is on "Parenting Strategies For Modern Challenge" - a timely topic indeed! Please see the flyer below for more details and contact information for who to reach out to with questions. This looks to be an incredible learning opportunity! Hope to see you there!
Please see the message and links below from Neile Nelson, GHS teacher and Interact Club advisor ...
The Gorham High School Interact Club is doing a satellite RELAY FOR LIFE event of our own on Sunday, May 1st at the Gorham High School Track, under the umbrella of the Relay for Life of Greater Portland. Our club currently has approximately 155 members involved and we are hoping to have 100% participation throughout the day. We will be walking/running the Gorham High School track from 7:00AM until 7:00PM. Our members and I are actively trying to solicit donations on behalf of our team - GHS Interact Club. The donations help raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society directly. Please consider a donation to this worthwhile cause on behalf of the American Cancer Society. Our club is hoping for 100% participation in the event and we are shooting to exceed our donations from last year. We have set a club goal of raising over $6,000. Please help and donate if you can, and also feel free to share this email with anyone!!!
If any of you are interested in joining us for a bit walking or running, please do so at any point throughout the day. We will also be having a Luminary lap and Survivor Lap at roughly 6:00PM, if you would like to come and watch those events. Our club members will be decorating luminary bags in honor of friends, family members, neighbors, that have been affected by cancer in some way. We will place these bags around the GHS track at 6:00 that evening. In addition to that, we are inviting family, friends, neighbors and members of our community to join us in supporting our "Survivor" lap to support and honor those who have been directly affected by this disease. That will be taking place between 6 and 7 PM as well.
With one in three people expected to experience cancer in their lifetime, it’s likely we all know someone who’s been affected by the disease — friends, loved ones, maybe even yourself.
Our club is participating in this year’s Relay For Life to help the American Cancer Society change all that. Please donate to our fundraising page, so we can continue to see fewer people diagnosed, and more people surviving cancer. Give what you can. Every gift — large and small — makes a big difference.
A CLOSING MESSAGE - TWO VIDEOS!
It has been a while since my last video message, so I thought it would be great to share a quick closing message of optimism and renewal via video. Please click on the link below to view - I PROMISE IT IS BRIEF!
In my message, I encouraged you to also watch the brief video below. DEFINITELY WORTH THE WATCH and BOY! DOES IT EVER HELP US TO BETTER UNDERSTAND WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO EACH DAY FOR OUR CHILDREN AND COMMUNITY!
Unified Bball Video Link:
So Proud to be a Gorham Ram! Enjoy Spring starting on Monday!