Guidance on Serving Students who are English Learners During School Closures

As many schools across Maine transition to alternate methods of non-traditional instruction or transitioning to non-classroom based instruction or closure, the Maine Department of Education would like to provide guidance on serving students who are English learners (ELs). In the event that schools in a given district are closed with no remote learning, services for students who are ELs may be suspended along with the general education program. However, if remote learning opportunities are provided for non-ELs, equitable opportunities must also be provided to students who are ELs. For example, if paper study packets are sent home, schools must ensure that students who are ELs are given assignments that are designed in accessible ways and that supports are provided as needed. If online classwork is provided, it must also be designed around the needs and abilities of students who are ELs. Bear in mind that not all families have reliable internet access and that the parents/guardians of ELs may not be equipped with sufficient English language skills to support their children’s learning at home the same way that other parents/guardians might.

Phone and/or online tutoring may be the most effective ways to ensure that students who are ELs continue to receive the English language acquisition support services they are entitled to under civil rights law. To assist you in developing online supports for students who are ELs, SupportEd is hosting a free webinar on March 18th at 3:00pm. Register here.

Online resources with some free materials districts may consider using include:

https://www.commonlit.org 

https://www.voanews.com/

https://www.khanacademy.org/

http://en.childrenslibrary.org/

https://www.nypl.org/help/community-outreach/immigrant-services/learn-esol-online-resources

https://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/

https://www.esl-lab.com/

https://eslgold.com/

https://www.duolingo.com/

https://freerice.com/

Additionally, communication with parents/guardians is of heightened importance during this time. There are many resources available for communicating with students and their families about the COVID-19 pandemic. Colorín Colorado has compiled a list of multilingual resources here.

Urgent information shared with English-speaking families needs to be translated/interpreted for families whose primary language is not English. Consider translation/interpretation options that are rapid or immediate, such as phone interpretation services.

If you have any questions about this notice or would like any assistance, please contact April Perkins, Director of English for Speakers of Other Languages, at april.perkins@maine.gov.