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2019 Novel Coronavirus - COVID-19

 

In addition to our normal communication methods, we will use this website to share our response to the rapidly evolving Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation with members of the South Portland Schools community.

We urge you to visit the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website for authoritative and up to date information on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, aka COVID-19.

You may also be interested in exploring the Maine Department of Education's resources for schools and families.

Translated Resources can be found here.

About Social Distancing

 

SoPo Schools Family News Notes

April 8, 2020

Dear South Portland Schools Community,

I am writing to let you know that, based upon a recommendation by Maine Governor Mills and Education Commissioner Makin, South Portland Schools will continue to deliver learning remotely throughout the rest of the 2019-20 school year. Their recommendation is based upon guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that recommends an 8 to 20 week timeframe for avoiding large group/in-person instruction once there is evidence of community transmission of COVID-19.  We are acting in concert with ALL area school districts to do our part to slow the spread and to save lives.  

While the recommendation from the state is guided by solid and convincing public health and medical information, this remains a very difficult decision for us. We know that to not resume in-person classes and to extend remote learning until the end of the school year poses an extreme hardship for everyone in our community.  Families will continue to cope with childcare and managing school expectations while grappling with the other personal and financial challenges this crisis presents.  

We know this decision also brings with it considerable disappointment.  Young children are confused about why they cannot see their friends at school.  All students, families and staff will miss those special gatherings in the life of a school when we are together to enjoy a performance, cheer on our Red Riots (or Wildcats and Raiders) or celebrate our students’ accomplishments.

We are already working on plans for gatherings and end of the year events including ways to develop alternative ways to redesign graduation and other important end of the year happenings to provide both continuity and an ongoing sense of community.   We are also working on issues such as grading, particularly at the high school. Our aim is to support all students and to not allow this unprecedented set of events to disadvantage them now or in their future. Stay tuned for more information. 

Although there will be no classes during the Spring break, which begins on Friday, April 16, meals for students will continue to be provided at the same five locations and same schedule.  We are providing students about 1,000 per day, and will continue to do this through the end of the school year.

As I have written previously, the faculty and staff of the South Portland Schools are proud to serve the children of South Portland and our community in the best of times.  We are even more proud to serve now to meet the challenges ahead to keep our students learning and our community safe.  

Please take good care, hug your children and know that you are in our thoughts,

Ken Kunin

 

March 31, 2020

Welcome to week three as our community responds to the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by moving to remote learning and alternate operations in the South Portland Schools.  We strongly encourage students to connect every day and to reach out to their teachers if they have questions or need assistance.  We are here to help you.  We also encourage parents to reach out to teachers if you have questions.  We are here to help you as well. 

We also encourage you to stop by and get a meal for any children ages 0-19 in your household.  Please see the flyer for details: Free Meals for Students rev.04.01.20.pdf.  Each day we provide lunch and breakfast for the next day with double meals on Fridays to help out for the weekend.  So far our amazing nutritional services crew have distributed about 7,500 meals!

As we end March and move into April, we are being asked more and more whether or not we have made firm decisions about a return date to school.  We are taking a wait and see approach and will be guided by public health and medical information as we have been throughout.  We get briefings on a daily basis and we track incidents in South Portland and regionally.  While the news we have seen recently concerning the models projecting peak in our area in late April are not promising, we will continue to follow public health information carefully.  We would all like to be back in school and have as normal a finish to the school year as possible.  We will have to see what information the days and weeks ahead brings to us.

A few more important notes...

How to apply for the PreK Lottery   If you have a child who will turn four on or before October 15, 2020 you are eligible for our PreK lottery for one of 57 slots in our public preschool classrooms.

From the SPSD.org website go to Our Schools then select Preschool from the drop down list or just click: https://bit.ly/3bDZFMx and you’re there!  

We have extended the deadline to apply for the lottery until April 30.

Instructions about how to enter the PreK lottery are outlined on the site.  Just follow the simple steps, complete the fillable PDF at the bottom of the page, save it and email directly to registrations@spsdme.org or print and mail it to PreK Registrations, South Portland Schools, 130 Wescott Road, South Portland, ME 04106. 

Any parent that is unable to access the site can call 871-0555 and ask for Dottie Labrie.  You can also email Ms. Labrie (labriedo@spsd.org) and she will drop an application in the mail to you. 

Kindergarten Registration  Open Kindergarten registration for all children who will be five years old on or before October 15, 2020, is currently taking place.  We encourage you to complete the registrations forms right away so that we can best prepare for your child’s start in the South Portland Schools!

Families may download the pre-enrollment registration form and email it directly to registrations@spsdme.org

Once we receive your completed registration form, you will be contacted by your child's school with further instructions on how to complete the registration process. 

SoPo Unite Tip of the Month “SoPo Unite – All Ages, All In” is a community coalition involving school, city, police, community organizations, businesses, parents and most importantly, students aimed to reduce substance use and abuse among our youth.  This federally funded Drug Free Communities coalition puts out regular tips to help folks to support our teens.  Please click here for a timely and important tip of the month.  

March 25, 2020 8:15am

Dear South Portland Schools Community,

Yesterday afternoon Governor Mills issued an additional emergency executive order to direct further steps to protect public health in regards to the Coronavirus pandemic:https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/news/governor-mills-orders-further-steps-protect-public-health-2020-03-24

Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine CDC stated that, “Maine people should live their lives as if COVID-19 in in their community.”  He went on to note, “Physical distancing in every part of Maine is crucial to limit the potential spread of the virus. You can be there for loved ones without being in the same place.”

We learned yesterday that COVID-19 is in fact impacting people in our community.  With about 118 confirmed cases in Maine and 74 in Cumberland County as of noon on March 24, it was a matter of time.  

We learned that a parent and a staff member associated with different schools have tested positive.  We are aware of others who are under self-quarantine recommended by medical professionals who represent still different schools.  

By following the guidance we receive daily from public health professionals, we will continue to take all of the proper precautions that will enable us to continue to remotely educate our 3,000 students, provide needed meals to our children and prepare for the eventual reopening of our schools.  

As I have written before and as we hear every day in the media, we need our community, all of you, to continue to do your part to slow the progression of transmission of the virus through all of the recommended steps, including physical or social distancing.  

In a letter sent to the community last week we noted that public health officials and doctors stress that this means no playdates, not even 1:1, no small gatherings, no meetings between a couple families, even for birthday parties.  It also means no soccer or basketball games and no hanging out in groups other than the online variety. We all love to be together and socialize, but unfortunately, we are being told clearly by medical professionals that this is not something we can do at this time.  This link to a short speech by a Chicago area doctor, says it well

Also, as I wrote on Monday: if you or someone in your family has been impacted by COVID-19 we ask that you contact your principal or school nurse as soon as possible.  We thank all of those who have been in touch.

It is critical for us to have a clearinghouse of information of South Portland Schools’ students, staff or families impacted by COVID-19.  We need to know if folks have been tested, if folks are connected to someone tested and folks who have been advised to self-quarantine by a doctor or by the Maine CDC.  This will help us in our consultations with Maine CDC and public health officials and will be greatly appreciated.

If efforts at following sound public health guidance are successful, we will experience less illness in our community as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.  As the doctor noted in her speech, at that point we might be wondering what all the fuss was about.  

The fuss is that if actions are taken now so that less happens, our steps, including hand washing (mine are a bit raw right now) and social distancing (I haven’t seen my brother who lives by Reds in weeks), will lead to less people ill and fewer lives lost, which would be the best outcome of all. 

March 20, 2020 2:00pm

Dear South Portland Schools Community,

I am writing to let you know that given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent declaration of Governor Mills of a Civil Emergency, South Portland Schools will remain closed at this time.  The earliest date of school reopening will be Monday, April 27.  We will continue to assess the situation and keep the community informed.  

From all of the updates which we receive daily from public health officials, we are at the beginning of a great challenge for our community.  Our South Portland Schools COVID-19 information page on our website: https://www.spsd.org/district/covid19 is updated regularly and you can find the latest news, announcements and other resources.

During this first week of meeting this challenge, we have moved into a different way of conducting school.  Our aim this first week, and for next week as well, is to connect with our students, provide some structure and have all, students and teachers alike, experience a degree of success.  We have provided meals at five sites across the city and worked to ensure that all of our students and families have resources to make sure that learning continues to happen.  We are proud of the work that the staff and community have done together this week.  At the same time we know that this is not a sprint, but a marathon.  We will look forward to partnering with our community to keep learning happening while keeping our community safe.

During this time all schools and school facilities will be closed to the public.  

  • Our teachers, ed techs and other professional staff will continue to work with care, thoughtfulness and skill to provide learning opportunities for all students.  
  • Our food service workers and drivers will continue to prepare and deliver nutritious meals to all ages 0-19 who come to one of our sites (Free Meals for Kids Flyers.pdf ).  If you need home delivery, please contact Kathy Germani, Assistant Superintendent at germanka@spsd.org  or 871-0555.
  • Our facilities staff will do the hard work of preparing our buildings for eventual reopening.  
  • Our clerks and office staff will ensure that support continues to make remote operations possible.  With 3,000 students and 600 employees, there is a great deal of essential work to do to make it all possible.

Finally, as our health professionals continue to remind all of us: wash your hands, wipe down surfaces, practice social distancing, try not to touch your face, cover your mouth with your arm if you are coughing or sneezing, and stay at home if you are sick.  These habits continue to be the most effective defense and our best chance to slow the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  Continue to check our website: https://www.spsd.org/district/covid19.  We will update regularly with the latest news, announcements and other resources.

The faculty and staff of the South Portland Schools are proud to serve the children of South Portland and our community in the best of times.  We are even more proud to serve now to meet the challenges ahead to keep our students learning and our community safe.  

 Free Meals for Kids Flyers.pdf 

Sincerely,

Ken Kunin, Superintendent of Schools

(Click here for an Archive of Previous Communication on this topic)