We recognize that your educational continuity plans are under constant revision and redevelopment as the national public health emergency evolves. Here are some considerations to guide your planning…
- The needs of students and the educational community:
- The safety and well-being of students, staff, and families, is always the top priority. Plans and activities should focus first on physical health, safety, and nutrition, and social-emotional and mental health needs.
- This crisis disproportionately affects our most vulnerable students. Equity should be a top consideration in local planning efforts, especially as districts and schools adjust plans to manage an extended period of remote learning. To support these efforts, Maine DOE will continue to provide updated guidance on our COVID-19 resource page and through Priority Notices as information and resources become available.
- Prioritize connections between school staff and students – Plans should include protocols for reaching out to families of students who are not connecting regularly with educators, reporting educator concerns/referrals to school or district mental health or social work staff, or referring to community partners who support the health and wellbeing of families and students.
- Remote Learning:
- Nothing can replace the in-person schooling experience; do not expect that remote learning can replicate a traditional school day.
- SAUs and schools do have an obligation to engage students in meaningful and productive learning opportunities through an appropriately structured educational program.
- Remote learning is not synonymous with online learning. Remote learning can take many forms:
- Instructional methods may include large-group video or audio conference calls, 1:1 phone or video calls, email, work packets, projects, reading lists, online learning platforms, and other resources to effectively engage with students. These tools could be used to deliver lessons, provide individual student support, provide resources (including instructional material and student assignments), connect students to each other and their teacher, and provide feedback on student work. SAUs and schools should ensure all online learning platforms meet confidentiality and student privacy standards.
- For SAUs where connectivity is ubiquitous, synchronous, online classes may be offered by teachers – but it is very important to remember that many students will be experiencing other conflicts inhibiting participation (caring for siblings, sharing computers, insufficient supervision available if parents are working, etc)
- Asynchronous lessons can be provided online (prepared ahead by teachers, so students can engage at flexible times). This mode of instruction can include online assignments, discussion boards, or “hard copy” packets delivered along with nutrition services / meals.
- Consider including “Office Hours” where teachers and students can chat via Zoom or other meeting platform to clarify lessons and expectations.
- Projects may provide opportunities for students engage with resources in their everyday lives and in the natural world around them.
- Interdisciplinary projects and activities can help students to synthesize content and skills and to develop critical thinking.
- If you are using online learning, please consider the effects of increased screen time and seek balance between learning through technology and remote learning that happens offline to support students’ curiosity and understanding.
- The individual student experience will vary depending on student age, individual and family needs, access and capacity for remote learning, and the health and safety of students within unique family situations.
- Additional considerations:
Please consider the following as you continue to build and modify your educational continuity plans for the remainder of the school year:
- Provide opportunities to connect with one or more educators multiple times per week. For students who are at higher risk of learning loss, such as students with disabilities or English learners, we recommend that educators provide additional opportunities for connection.
- Recommend or assign time each day for physical activity
- Offer additional resources for enrichment activities (many free resources may be found on our Covid-19 webpage)!
Please don’t forget to submit the minutes of you school board meeting with approval of your remote learning plan. We have tried to keep this submission process as easy as possible; the portal can be found here. This will be needed for us to issue the waiver for mandatory attendance for your SAU.
Please remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS! The scope of this emergency has already exceeded anything that school and district leaders and staff could have reasonably expected. We know that you are balancing many conflicting priorities and we know that your continuity of education plans will continue to evolve over time. Remember that live consultation with DOE specialists is available every day through our own “office hours” – consider joining a zoom session to share challenges and ideas with other educators across the State. In addition, The Commissioner’s Office staff is available to join your regional superintendent conversations; we appreciate hearing the concerns and ideas and having the opportunity to provide timely answers. Reach out to our Director of Communications Kelli Deveaux at firstname.lastname@example.org with meeting information.
We will get through this, and your students and education communities will thrive once again.