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COVID-19 and Coronavirus Information

Last Updated: 1/27/2021 8:32 PM

Important websites:

FAQs on Reopening Schools - (We have created this FAQ guide from questions and discussions from emails, Board meetings, and the Advisory Committee meetings.)

RSU5 Reopening of Schools Adopted Plan

Dr. Foley's Reopening of School Presentation CLICK HERE 
 

RSU5 Advisory Team for the Reopening of School
An Advisory Team for the Reopening of School has been created.  The committee will meet twice a month (June 9 & 23; July 7 & 21; and August 4 & 18) from 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Agenda/Meeting Notes from Team Meetings


Recap Meetings with the Superintendent 4:30-5:30 p.m.

After each advisory team meeting, the Superintendent will provide a recap of the meeting for the public via Zoom.  The link is below.
https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/84700793864
Meeting ID: 847 0079 3864
Join by telephone: 1 646 876 9923

Recap Meeting Notes

 

COVID-19 Return to School Guidelines for Students & Families

Link to Student Health Screening Form

We are using the Frontline Health Portal as a COVID screening tool. Below is a link to the portal and instructions for use. Please report your child’s status before your child arrives at school. You will need the Student ID number as well.

https://bit.ly/RSU5CheckIn

Instructions:

Frontline Health Screening Instructions -Guardian - (http://www.rsu5.org/docs/district/depts/14/Frontline Health Screening Instructions -Guardian.pdf)

Frontline Health Screening - Mobile App -  http://www.rsu5.org/docs/district/depts/14/Frontline Health Screening - Mobile App.pdf


We greatly appreciate your support and cooperation as we strive to keep our school community healthy and safe. If you require any type of assistance, please contact Gayle Wolotsky, Interim Director of Technology at wolotskyg@rsu5.org or 207-865-4706, x310. Thank you for your assistance.


Below is correspondence Superintendent Foley has sent out to families (most recent at the top)

 

1/27/21

January 27, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

I regret to inform you that we have two more positive cases of Covid-19 at Durham Community School. The students were not at school when they became symptomatic, so there is no need for contact tracing. 

In RSU5, we are now at 21 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 24 of our students having tested positive for Covid since the return to school in September. With the four staff members testing positive, we are at 28 total positive cases in RSU 5 since September. In the past 14 days, we have had 6 positive student cases districtwide. 

I’m hopeful that more and more people will soon be  vaccinated. Until our numbers begin to flatten out, I am asking that our families and staff try and restrict their social gatherings as much as possible outside of school. While in school, we are practicing social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing, thus reducing transmission of the virus. 

Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. Please err on the side of staying home when symptomatic. Any additional questions for the school can be directed to the school nurse, Kim Gormely, or Principal Pidden at Durham Community School.   As always, thank you for your continued support as we navigate these pandemic times. 

Sincerely,
Becky
Becky Foley 
Superintendent RSU 5

 

1/26/21

January 26, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,
This letter is to inform you that a student who attends Freeport High School recently tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The student was not at school when they tested positive, so there is no need for contact tracing. 

In RSU5, we are now at 19 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 22 of our students having tested positive for Covid since the return to school in September. With the four staff members testing positive, we are at 26 total positive cases in RSU 5. In the past 14 days, we have had 5 positive student cases districtwide. We are still in outbreak status at the high school.

While in school, we are practicing social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing, thus reducing transmission of the virus. We still have no reason to believe that there is any in school transmission. 

Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms.  If you have any additional questions, they can be directed to the school nurse, Emily Guyer, or Principal Gulko at Freeport High School.   As always, thank you for your continued support as we navigate these pandemic times. 

Sincerely,
Becky
Becky Foley,  Superintendent

 

1/25/21

January 25, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,
I regret to inform you that we have another case of Covid-19.  A staff member who works at Durham Community School recently tested positive. All close contacts have been informed. 

In RSU5, we are now at 18 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 21 of our students having tested positive for Covid since the return to school in September. With the four staff members testing positive, we are at 25 total positive cases in RSU 5 since September. This is our seventh case in the last fourteen days in the District. 

There is no indication that the transmission of the virus is happening at school. I’m hopeful that more people will soon be  vaccinated. While in school, we are practicing social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing, thus reducing transmission of the virus. 

Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. If your child is symptomatic, please have them remain home. Principal Pidden will be sharing more detailed information with the Durham families. After reviewing that information, any additional questions for the school can be directed to the school nurse, Kim Gormely, or Principal Pidden at Durham Community School.   

As always, thank you for your continued support as we navigate these pandemic times. 

Sincerely,
Becky
Becky Foley 
Superintendent RSU5

 

1/22/21

January 22, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

I regret to inform you that we have two more cases of Covid-19.  The first is a staff member at Durham Community School who recently tested positive. All close contacts have been informed in that case. The second is a student who attends Mast Landing School. No contact tracing was required with this positive case. 

In RSU5, we are now at 18 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 21 of our students having tested positive for Covid since the return to school in September. With the three staff members testing positive, we are at 24 total positive cases in RSU 5 since September. This is our sixth case in the last fourteen days. 

I’m hopeful that more people will soon be  vaccinated. While in school, we are practicing social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing, thus reducing transmission of the virus. We continue to urge our school community to restrict the amount of time that they are together with friends outside of the school day.

Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. If your child is symptomatic, please have them remain home. Principal Pidden will be sharing more detailed information with the Durham families. After reviewing that information, any additional questions for the school can be directed to the school nurse, Kim Gormely, or Principal Pidden at Durham Community School.   For any question regarding the case at Mast Landing School, please contact Principal Grimm or the school nurse, Erika Skiff. As always, thank you for your continued support as we navigate these pandemic times. 

Sincerely,
Becky
Becky Foley 
Superintendent RSU5

 

1/19/21

January 19, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

I regret to inform you that we have another case of Covid-19.  A student who attends Durham Community School recently tested positive. All close contacts have been informed. 

In RSU5, we are now at 17 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 20 of our students having tested positive for Covid since the return to school in September. With the two staff members testing positive, we are at 22 total positive cases in RSU 5 since September. 

I’m hopeful that more and more people will soon be  vaccinated. Until our numbers begin to flatten out, I am asking that our families try and restrict their child’s social gatherings as much as possible outside of school. While in school, we are practicing social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing, thus reducing transmission of the virus. I urge our families to follow the same protocols when their child is socializing outside of school, and to restrict the amount of time that they are together with friends.  

Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. If your child is symptomatic, please have them remain home. If in doubt, keep them out. Principal Pidden will be sharing more detailed information with the Durham families. After reviewing that information, any additional questions for the school can be directed to the school nurse, Kim Gormely, or Principal Pidden at Durham Community School.   As always, thank you for your continued support as we navigate these pandemic times. 

Sincerely,
Becky
Becky Foley 

Superintendent RSU 5

 

1/15/21

January 15, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

I regret to inform you that we have another case of Covid-19.  A student who attends Freeport High School recently tested positive. All close contacts are being informed. 

In RSU5, we are now at 16 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 19 of our students having tested positive for Covid since the return to school in September. With the two staff members testing positive, we are at 21 total positive cases in RSU 5 since September. In the past 14 days, we have had 5 positive student cases districtwide, 4 of which were at FHS. Eight of our nineteen student cases have been at FHS.  To get us out of the outbreak status at the high school, there can be no new cases for fourteen consecutive days. This will take the collective efforts of all of us.
 
Cases in Maine are on the rise with today’s numbers at an all time high of 823 cases. I am imploring that our families try and restrict their child’s social gatherings as much as possible outside of school. While in school, we are practicing social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing, thus reducing transmission of the virus. I urge our families to follow the same protocols when their child is socializing outside of school, and to restrict the amount of time that they are together with friends.  

Due to this latest case, we are having to continue with remote learning at FHS for another week. This latest case requires additional self-quarantining of staff. We hope to be able to bring the FHS students and staff back on January 25. 

Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. If your child is symptomatic, please have them remain home. Principal Gulko will be sharing detailed information about the schedule for next week.  After reviewing that information, any additional questions for the school can be directed to the school nurse, Emily Guyer, or Principal Gulko at Freeport High School.   As always, thank you for your continued support as we navigate these pandemic times. 

Sincerely,
Becky
Becky Foley, Superintendent

 

1/11/21

January 11, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

This letter is to inform you that a student who attends Freeport High School recently tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is a possibility that other staff or students came in contact with this individual and therefore may be exposed to the virus. All close contacts  have been informed and are currently self-quarantining for ten days from last exposure to the positive individual. A negative test result does not get an individual out of quarantine. 

In RSU5, we are now at 14 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 17 of our students having tested positive for Covid since the return to school in September. With the two staff members testing positive, we are at 19 total positive cases in RSU 5. In the past 14 days, we have had three positive student cases districtwide.

I am asking that our families try and restrict their child’s social gatherings as much as possible outside of school. While in school, we are practicing social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing, thus reducing transmission of the virus. I urge our families to follow the same protocols when their child is socializing outside of school. This may help us from having to move to remote learning at the high school.  

Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. Call a health care provider if symptoms start. Stay home if you are sick. Questions for the school can be directed to the school nurse, Emily Guyer, or Principal Gulko at Freeport High School. As always, thank you for your continued support as we navigate these pandemic times. 

Sincerely,
Becky
Becky Foley,  Superintendent

 

1/7/21  (Letter #2 on 1/7/21)

January 7, 2021

 
Dear Staff and Families,
This letter is to inform you that a student who attends Durham Community School recently tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is a possibility that other staff or students came in contact with this individual and therefore may be exposed to the virus. All close contacts  have been informed and are currently self-quarantining for ten days from last exposure to the positive individual. A negative test result does not get an individual out of quarantine. 

In RSU5, we are now at 13 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 16 of our students having tested positive for Covid since the return to school in September. With the two staff members testing positive, we are at 18 total positive cases in RSU 5. In the past 14 days, we have had two positive student cases districtwide. Due to the number of teachers identified as close contacts to this most recent case, it requires us to switch to remote instruction for our sixth grade staff and students at DCS.

Please try and restrict your child’s social gatherings as much as possible outside of school. While in school, we are practicing social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing, thus reducing transmission of the virus. If your child is gathering outside of school, it is critical for them to follow the same precautions. 

Please monitor your child for signs and symptoms. Call a health care provider if symptoms start. Keep your child home if they are displaying Covid symptoms. Questions for the school can be directed to the school nurse, Kim Gormely , or Principal Pidden at Durham Community School. As always, thank you for your continued support as we navigate these pandemic times. 

Sincerely,
Becky
Becky Foley
Superintendent

 

1/7/21 (Letter #1 on 1/7/21)

January 7, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,
This letter is to inform you that a student who attends Freeport High School recently tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is a possibility that other staff or students came in contact with this individual and therefore may be exposed to the virus. All close contacts  have been informed and are currently self-quarantining for ten days from last exposure to the positive individual. A negative test result does not get an individual out of quarantine. We are informing you of this most recent case out of extreme caution. 

I am asking that our families try and restrict their child’s social gatherings as much as possible outside of school. While in school, we are practicing social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing, thus reducing transmission of the virus. I am hearing that outside of the school day that kids are gathering and are not adhering to these important preventative measures. I know that our teenagers are social beings, and we want them to be able to interact. While outside of school at any social gathering, please continue to follow the same health and safety protocols and please limit your exposure times. This may help us from having to move to remote learning at the high school.
 
I want to thank the students and parents who responded so quickly to the news today. Staff notified parents and the parents responded immediately by picking up their child, eliminating any further exposure to others. This type of quick response will help us keep our students safe and our schools open.
 
Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. Call a health care provider if symptoms start. Stay home if you are sick. Questions for the school can be directed to the school nurse, Emily Guyer, or Principal Gulko at Freeport High School. As always, thank you for your continued support as we navigate these pandemic times. 

Sincerely,
Becky
Becky Foley, Superintendent
RSU5

1/6/21

January 6, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

This letter is to inform you that a staff person associated with Freeport High School recently tested positive for COVID-19. In RSU5, we are now at 11 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 14 of our students having Covid since the return to school in September. With the two staff members testing positive recently, we are at 16 total positive cases in RSU 5. In the past 14 days, we have had one positive case confirmed. 

The staff member was in self-quarantine and not at school when they tested positive. There was no contact tracing required for the District.  We are informing you out of extreme caution. Please monitor your student for signs and symptoms. Questions for the high school can be directed to the school nurse, Emily Guyer, or Principal Gulko at Freeport High School.
 
We want to thank our families for partnering with us to keep all students and staff safe. Please continue to keep your children home when they are showing COVID symptoms. The Maine CDC has advised us to proceed with in-person schooling and continue to follow our hybrid plan. We request that you continue to wear your masks, socially distance,  wash your hands, and complete the self-screening before sending your child to school.  

Testing site information for Maine can be found at the following link https://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy/testing. As the vaccine is beginning to be distributed, it is critically important that our school communities continue to do everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus so our schools can remain open for in-person instruction.

Thank you,
Becky
Becky Foley, Superintendent
RSU5

 

1/5/21

January 5, 2021

Dear Staff, Students, and Families, 

This letter is to inform you that the CDC has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at Freeport High School. This status does not mean that there is an automatic school closure. An outbreak means that there are three or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 from different households within a 14-day period. Based on recommendations from the Maine CDC, we have cleaned the school/classrooms and we are monitoring the cases closely. The last confirmed positive case was December 22 at FHS, prior to the holiday break. For us to no longer be in “outbreak” status, FHS has to remain without additional qualifying cases for fourteen days. We remain at a total of 15 positive cases in RSU 5 since September.

We continue to offer the hybrid learning model for our students. Please monitor yourself/your child for signs and symptoms. Call a health care provider if symptoms start. It is vitally important that you contact the school as soon as possible when your child has been confirmed to have a positive case. All close contacts from our most recent case have been notified and did the necessary self-quarantining of ten days. A negative test result does not get an individual out of quarantine. 

Maine CDC recommends prevention measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures include proper handwashing with soap and warm water, which is especially important after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Cover your cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Additionally, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of  wearing your masks, socially distancing, washing your hands, and completing the self-screening before sending your child to school.  

Questions for the school can be directed to the nurse, Emily Guyer, at FHS by calling 865-4706 x 4. For general COVID-19 questions, dial 211 (or 1-866-811-5695). You can also text your ZIP code to 898-211 or email info@211maine.org. Call a health care provider for questions about your symptoms. More information can be found at https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/coronavirus/index.shtml. Testing site information for Maine can be found at the following link https://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy/testing. Thank you for your continued support during these difficult times.

Sincerely,
Becky
Becky Foley, Superintendent
RSU5

 

12/29/20

December 29, 2020

Dear Staff and Families,

This letter is to inform you that a student who attends Freeport High School recently tested positive for COVID-19. In RSU5, we are now at 11 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 14 of our students having Covid since the return to school in September. With the one staff member testing positive recently, we are at 15 total positive cases in RSU 5. In the past 14 days, we have had 5 positive cases confirmed. 

The student testing positive was not at school when they became symptomatic. All close contacts have been notified and are self-quarantining. We are informing you out of extreme caution. Please monitor your children for signs and symptoms. Questions for FHS can be directed to the school nurse, Emily Guyer, or Principal Gulko. 

I continue to monitor the rising numbers closely. We want to thank our families for partnering with us to keep all students and staff safe. Please notify us as soon as possible if your child tests positive for Covid, is showing symptoms, or is self-quarantining so we can begin the necessary contact tracing and provide other needed communication. We plan to proceed with in-person schooling and will continue to follow our hybrid plan next week when we return. If you traveled outside of Maine during the holidays other than to New Hampshire or Vermont, your child will need to self-quarantine for ten days or obtain a negative Covid test before returning to school. Additionally, we request that you continue to wear your masks, socially distance,  wash your hands, and complete the self-screening before sending your child to school.  

It is critically important that our school communities continue to do everything we can to keep our schools safe in order for our schools to remain open for in-person instruction. Testing site information for Maine can be found at the following link https://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy/testing. Thank you for your continued support. 

Stay well and happy holidays,
Becky
Becky Foley
Superintendent RSU5    

 

12/18/20

December 18, 2020

Dear Staff and Families,

This letter is to inform you that two students who attend Morse Street School and one who attends Mast Landing School recently tested positive for COVID-19. In RSU5,  we are now at 10 confirmed, and 3 probable for a total of 13 of our students having Covid since the return to school in September.  With the one staff member testing positive recently, we are at 14 total positive cases in RSU 5 since September. We have had 6 of those positive cases in the past 14 days. 

The students were not at school when they became symptomatic. We are informing you out of extreme caution. Please monitor your student for signs and symptoms. Questions for MSS can be directed to the school nurses, Brooke Rich or Shannon Sampson, or Principal Nickerson. Questions for MLS can be directed to the school nurse, Erika Skiff or Principal Grimm. 

I am monitoring the rising numbers closely. We want to thank our families for partnering with us to keep all students and staff safe. Please continue to keep your children home when they are showing COVID symptoms. It is due to our families being ever vigilant that we are not needing to self quarantine other students and staff. We will proceed with in-person schooling and continue to follow our hybrid plan. We request that you continue to wear your masks, socially distance,  wash your hands, and complete the self-screening before sending your child to school.  

As the holiday season is upon us, it is critically important that our school communities continue to do everything we can in order to keep our schools safe, while providing  in-person instruction. Testing site information for Maine can be found at the following link https://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy/testing

Stay well and happy holidays,

Becky
Becky Foley
Superintendent RSU5    

 

12/16/20

December 16, 2020

Dear Staff and Families,

This letter is to inform you that a staff person who works at Freeport High School recently tested positive for COVID-19. In RSU 5,  we are now at seven confirmed, and three probable positive Covid cases within our student body.  With the one staff member testing positive we are at 11 total positive cases in RSU 5 since September. We have had three positive cases in the RSU in the past 14 days. 

The staff member was in self-quarantine and not at school when they tested positive.  We are informing you out of extreme caution. Please monitor your student for signs and symptoms. Questions for the high school can be directed to the school nurse, Emily Guyer, or Principal Gulko at Freeport High School. 

We want to thank our families for partnering with us to keep all students and staff safe. Please continue to keep your children home when they are showing COVID symptoms. The Maine CDC has advised us to proceed with in-person schooling and continue to follow our hybrid plan. We request that you continue to wear your masks, socially distance,  wash your hands, and complete the self-screening before sending your child to school.  

Testing site information for Maine can be found HERE. As the holiday season is upon us, it is critically important that our school communities continue to do everything we can in order to keep our schools safe, while providing  in-person instruction. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday break. 

Be well and happy holidays,
Becky
Becky Foley
Superintendent RSU5

 

12/14/20

December 14, 2020

Dear Staff and Families,
This letter is to inform you that a student who attends Freeport Middle School recently tested positive for COVID-19. In RSU 5,  we are now at seven confirmed, and three probable for a total of ten of our students having Covid since the return to school in September.There have been no staff members who have tested positive with COVID.

The student was not at school when they became symptomatic.  We are informing you out of extreme caution. Please monitor your student for signs and symptoms. Questions for the middle school can be directed to the school nurses, Angela Sclar or Maurine Erskine,  or Principal Grogan at Freeport Middle School. 

We want to thank our families for partnering with us to keep all students and staff safe. Please continue to keep your children home when they are showing COVID symptoms. The Maine CDC has advised us to proceed with in-person schooling and continue to follow our hybrid plan. We request that you continue to wear your masks, socially distance,  wash your hands, and complete the self-screening before sending your child to school.  

As the holiday season is upon us, it is critically important that our school communities continue to do everything we can in order to keep our schools safe, while providing  in-person instruction. Testing site information for Maine can be found here. 
Lastly, we want to thank the parents who are able to drive their children to and from school, and encourage you to continue to do so. As our cases surge, this is allowing us to have more than adequate distance between the students on the bus, and is reassuring to our drivers who feel responsible for delivering healthy students to school! 

During this very atypical holiday season, I want to take a moment to wish your family a healthy, safe and joyful season. I feel fortunate to be healthy and a part of such a dedicated staff and supportive community. 

With much gratitude, 

Becky Foley
Superintendent RSU 5        
 

 

11/18/20

November 18, 2020

Dear Staff and Families,

This letter is to inform you that a student associated with Freeport High School recently tested positive for COVID-19. The student was not at school when they became symptomatic.  All close contacts  have been informed and are currently self-quarantining. We are informing you out of extreme caution. Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. We want to thank our families for partnering with us to keep all students and staff safe. Questions for the school can be directed to the school nurse, Emily Guyer, or Principal Gulko at Freeport High School. 

Please continue to keep your children home when they are showing any COVID symptoms. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that ranges from mild to severe. It can be more severe in adults 60 years and older and in those with underlying conditions. The virus mainly spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and an uninfected person breathes in the virus. Signs and symptoms include:

fever or chills                                                              cough

shortness of breath or difficulty breathing                fatigue

muscle or body aches                                              headache

new loss of taste or smell                                       sore throat

congestion or runny nose                                       nausea or vomiting

diarrhea

The Maine CDC has advised us to proceed with in-person schooling and continue to follow our hybrid plan. We request that you continue to wear your masks, socially distance, and wash your hands frequently. We appreciate your cooperation in completing the self-screening every day for your child. 

As we see the escalating impact  of COVID-19 across our state and the nation, we recognize that friends and families are looking for ways to connect and to maintain normal traditions in an abnormal time. As the holiday season approaches, it is critically important that our school communities continue to do everything we can in order to keep our schools safe, open, and able to provide in-person instruction.

This may mean making the safe and difficult choice to limit holiday gathering and travel, as we know that both have additional risks for exposure and transmission of the virus. The United States Center for Disease Control has issued strong guidance to the American people to limit our interactions and travel this holiday season.  

Any staff or students who travel to any state other than New Hampshire or Vermont (no restrictions for these two states only as of 11/16/20; subject to change), they will be required to either

  1. quarantine for 14 days upon return to Maine, or
  2. quarantine until receiving a negative test result. The test must be taken either:
    1. in the state you are visiting and no more than 72 hours prior to your return to Maine, or
    2. once you return to Maine.

Any staff or students who have travelled to restricted states will not be permitted inside the school building until either the negative test result or 14 days has occurred. This is not dependent on the length of time spent within the restricted states, meaning that a day visit still requires any person to quarantine for 14 days or until a negative test result is confirmed. All members of the household who travel must test or quarantine if over 12 months old. Testing site information for Maine can be found at https://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy/testing

Please stay safe. Help us to keep our school community safe and be able to provide in person learning for the students in RSU 5.

Be well and happy Thanksgiving,

Becky

Becky Foley

Superintendent RSU 5         

 

11/13/20

Dear Staff and Families, 

Today we received a communication from the DOE that Androscoggin County has moved into the yellow level. Cumberland County has an asterisk which means that it is being closely monitored, but remains in the green level at the moment. What the yellow designation means for us is that we will have to cancel all sports events and practices until we move back into the green level. We will continue to have coaches work with athletes remotely on conditioning and skill development. 

With regard to teaching and learning, we will continue with our hybrid plus model. There are no current plans to switch to remote learning unless we are directed to do so by the CDC/DOE or if positive cases require many of our staff to self-quarantine and we cannot find an adequate number of substitute teachers. We will continue to monitor this closely.

There is evidence of spread within our communities. According to the CDC data, Freeport now has 40 reported cases, Durham has 12, and Pownal remains with less than 5 cases. I hope these numbers have not directly impacted your family, but it is a reminder that we must remain ever vigilant in doing what we individually can do to keep one another safe by wearing masks, social distancing, and washing our hands frequently.   

We remain at seven positive/probable cases of COVID 19 in RSU5 since our return to school in September. We had no new cases within RSU5 this week. A reminder that if you travel out of state to anywhere other than Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, you must self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return or have a negative COVID test. With the surge in cases, I’m hearing that obtaining a test for travel purposes is now more difficult than it has been previously. 

Thank you to all of you who have expressed interest in subbing. This will be very helpful going forward. The county levels are updated weekly. We will continue to update you if there is a change in our status or any new information becomes available.

Be well,

Becky Foley

Superintendent of Schools

 


11/10/20

Dear Staff and Families,

Hope you and your family are staying well as we approach the holiday season. As the COVID cases throughout the State surge, I’m pleased that we have been able to have our schools remain open. I encourage you to remain vigilant during the upcoming holidays. A reminder that if you travel out of state to anywhere other than Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, you must self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return or have a negative COVID test. 

Thus far, we have had seven positive/probable cases of COVID 19 in RSU5. The first four were within one family, the fifth case was with a remote learner, and the most recent two were within another family. As of last Friday, the governor has kept Androscoggin and Cumberland Counties in the green level, allowing us to stay with in-person learning and continue with extracurricular activities.  Currently, winter sports will be allowed to begin in December with all competitions being delayed to at least January. 

Going forward, we will continue to monitor the data. As long as we can keep our students and staff safe at school, we will continue with our hybrid plus system.  There are no current plans to switch to remote learning unless we are directed to do so by the CDC/DOE or if positive cases require many of our staff to self-quarantine and we cannot find an adequate number of substitute teachers.

Let me take this opportunity to ask if there are any parents who would like to sub. We would love to have you as a substitute as you already know many of our students. We try to keep our application process simple. If you would be willing to sub, please contact our Human Resources Coordinator, Peggy Brown, at brownp@rsu5.org or 865-0928x232. Peggy is happy to help you through the process. 

In spite of the pandemic, there is much to be thankful for during these times. Among my many blessings, I am grateful for the ongoing cooperation and support of our families and staff as we work together to educate the students of RSU5. Thank you for your continued efforts!

Be Well,
Becky
Becky Foley, Superintendent

 

11/4/20 Letter #2

Dear Staff and Families,

This letter is a follow up to the letter I sent about the two students associated with Morse Street School recently testing positive for COVID-19. CDC has now confirmed that there are no close contacts. The students began quarantining before they became symptomatic. We are pleased at how our families are partnering with us to keep all students and staff safe.

The Maine CDC has advised us to proceed with in-person schooling and continue to follow our hybrid plan. As the cases in Maine continue to surge, we request that you continue to wear your masks, socially distance, and wash your hands frequently. Please continue to keep your children home when they are showing COVID symptoms. We appreciate your cooperation in completing the self-screening every day for your child. It is through our combined efforts that we will be able to continue with in person learning.

Sincerely,
Becky Foley, Superintendent

 

11/4/20 Letter #1

Dear Staff and Families,

This letter is to inform you that two students associated with Morse Street School recently tested positive for COVID-19. There is a possibility that other staff or students came in contact with these individuals and therefore may be exposed to the virus. We will update the school community with any new information as necessary. We are informing you out of extreme caution. Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. Call a health care provider if symptoms start.

Maine CDC, Principal Nickerson, or Shannon Sampson/ Brooke Rich, MSS school nurses, will contact you directly if you or your child are identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive. Close contacts will be asked to quarantine for 14 days from the last exposure to the positive individual. A negative test result does not get an individual out of quarantine. Principal Nickerson will be sending out a separate communication if there is any impact for the learning plans for students moving forward. We will let the community know when all close contacts have been informed, and contact tracing is completed.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that ranges from mild to severe. It can be more severe in adults 60 years and older and in those with underlying conditions. The virus mainly spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and an uninfected person breathes in the virus. Signs and symptoms include:

·       fever or chills

·       cough

·       shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

·       fatigue

·       muscle or body aches

·       headache

·       new loss of taste or smell

·       sore throat

·       congestion or runny nose

·       nausea or vomiting

·       diarrhea

 

Please keep in mind that many things can cause respiratory illness, so students and staff should be up to date on influenza and routine vaccinations. Maine CDC recommends prevention measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures include proper handwashing with soap and warm water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaner.

Questions for the school can be directed to the school nurses or Principal Julie Nickerson at Morse Street School. For general COVID-19 questions, dial 211 (or 1-866-811-5695). You can also text your ZIP code to 898-211 or email info@211maine.org. Call a health care provider for questions about your symptoms. More information can be found at www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Sincerely,
Becky Foley
 

10/18/20

Dear Families,

Hope you are enjoying the weekend. On Wednesday night, the Board supported my recommendation to move to a "hybrid plus" model. Hybrid Plus means that we will work toward more synchronous classes 6-12. For PK-5, it means where we have the space available, we will bring students back to five day a week instruction. This is different from one classroom to another and each principal will be determining how many students can safely fit in each classroom. We are also exploring other ways to provide five day a week instruction. For example, at the moment, we are working with Wolfe's Neck Farm to provide additional instruction for those wanting five day a week instruction in the elementary grades. 

As we evolve, we will continue to explore creative ideas, remain adaptable to ever changing needs, and focused on what is best for our students. Thank you for recognizing our efforts toward continuous improvement since going remote on March 16th. We appreciate your support in partnering with us during these pandemic times!

With much gratitude,

Dr. Becky Foley

 

9/28/20 (letter #2)

Dear Staff and Families,

This letter is to inform you that we have three more probable cases of COVID. There is an additional probable case at Freeport Middle School, Mast Landing School, and Freeport High School. There is a possibility that other staff or students came in contact with these individuals and therefore may be exposed to the virus. We are informing you out of extreme caution. Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. Call a health care provider if symptoms start. It is important that you call a healthcare facility before you show up in person. Stay home if you are sick.

Maine CDC, the principal at each of the schools, or the school nurses will contact you directly if you are identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive or is a probable case. Close contacts will be asked to quarantine for 14 days from last exposure to the positive individual. A negative test result does not get an individual out of quarantine. The principals will be sending out a separate communication about the learning plans for the impacted students. 

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that ranges from mild to severe. It can be more severe in adults 60 years and older and in those with underlying conditions. The virus mainly spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and an uninfected person breathes in the virus. Signs and symptoms include:

·       fever or chills

·       cough

·       shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

·       fatigue

·       muscle or body aches

·       headache

·       new loss of taste or smell

·       sore throat

·       congestion or runny nose

·       nausea or vomiting

·       diarrhea

Please keep in mind that many things can cause respiratory illness, so students and staff should be up-to-date on influenza and routine vaccinations.  Maine CDC recommends prevention measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures include proper handwashing with soap and warm water, which is especially important after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. When soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Questions for the school can be directed to the school nurses or the principals at the impacted schools. For general COVID-19 questions, dial 211 (or 1-866-811-5695). You can also text your ZIP code to 898-211 or email info@211maine.org. Call a health care provider for questions about your symptoms. More information can be found at www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Sincerely,
Becky Foley, Superintendent

 

9/28/20 (letter #1)

September 28, 2020

Dear Staff and Families,

This letter is to inform you that an individual associated with Freeport Middle School recently tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is a possibility that other staff or students came in contact with this individual and therefore may be exposed to the virus. We are informing you out of extreme caution. Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. Call a health care provider if symptoms start. It is important that you call a healthcare facility before you show up in person. Stay home if you are sick.

Maine CDC, Principal Grogan, or Maureen Erskine, school nurse, will contact you directly if you are identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive. Close contacts will be asked to quarantine for 14 days from last exposure to the positive individual. A negative test result does not get an individual out of quarantine. Principal Grogan will be sending out a separate communication about the learning plan for students moving forward.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that ranges from mild to severe. It can be more severe in adults 60 years and older and in those with underlying conditions. The virus mainly spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and an uninfected person breathes in the virus. Signs and symptoms include:

·       fever or chills

·       cough

·       shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

·       fatigue

·       muscle or body aches

·       headache

·       new loss of taste or smell

·       sore throat

·       congestion or runny nose

·       nausea or vomiting

·       diarrhea

Please keep in mind that many things can cause respiratory illness, so students and staff should be up-to-date on influenza and routine vaccinations.  Maine CDC recommends prevention measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures include proper handwashing with soap and warm water, which is especially important after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. When soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Questions for the school can be directed to the school nurses or Principal Ray Grogan at Freeport Middle School. For general COVID-19 questions, dial 211 (or 1-866-811-5695). You can also text your ZIP code to 898-211 or email info@211maine.org. Call a health care provider for questions about your symptoms. More information can be found at www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Sincerely,

Becky foley

 

9-21-20

Hi Parents,

In our diligence to try and keep everyone safe and healthy, we have been using a cleaning product, Vital Oxide, that if not given adequate time to dry causes staining on clothes. We are sorry if your child has experienced this. We are cleaning more frequently than we did in pre-Covid times and while this is ensuring a safer health environment, it is also causing an unintentional consequence of the stain on the clothes. 

We have ordered a new product that should arrive this week. In the interim, we will try and ensure that spaces are adequately dried before students use their workspace. 

I want to thank you for your patience and understanding. I also want to say that the students have done an excellent job in the first two weeks of wearing masks, washing their hands frequently, and watching the distance between themselves and others. Because of everyone's cooperation, we have had a very successful first two weeks of school.  

Becky J. Foley, Superintendent

 

9-7-20

Dear RSU 5 Families,

I want to take a few moments to tell you how excited we are to welcome back your children tomorrow. It is safe to say that this fall is going to be one of the hardest, most anxious, and most exciting school starts we have ever experienced. 

We enter this year knowing the importance of being adaptable. As you know, our health screening tool is not ready, but we have a backup plan with the Google Form. To access the form, please CLICK HERE. Please complete the form before your child leaves for school. The health screening tool will not be the last problem we will need to solve in the coming weeks ahead, but I know that we have the ability to overcome whatever obstacle we face.

I want to thank you for the support you have provided in partnering with us in educating your child. When this district faces adversity, we rise to overcome the challenge. There is always community support for finding solutions. It will take a team effort to succeed this year. We will only be able to keep our kids in school if we are collectively ever vigilant. The most important to dos to keep us safe are:

- Wash your hands,
- Wear your mask,
- Watch your distance.

Please do everything you can to help us implement and reinforce this message and our safety protocols with your child which will allow us to continue in person learning this year. There will be plenty of times in the upcoming days that we will need an abundance of patience as we work to figure out transportation adjustments, glitches in new protocols, and other unforeseen obstacles. I am confident that our community is up for this challenge as we know there is nothing more important than educating our children. Thank you in advance for your support!

Sincerely,

Becky Foley
Superintendent RSU 5

 

8-27-20

Dear RSU5 families,

I have received several emails seeking clarification around face coverings. This communication will hopefully help to clarify and assist families in understanding the need for certain criteria to be met in regard to masks. 

All children and staff will be required to wear a face covering throughout the school day.  There are different styles of face coverings and you may need to try a few before finding one that will work for your child.  Face masks need to be double layered, cover the nose and mouth, and must be secured with ties or loop around the ears.  This means that the mask must be tied behind the head/neck or looped with a tie around the ears.  The mask must be in compliance with the US CDC guidance:

  • fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face

  • completely covers the nose and mouth

  • is secured with ties or ear loops

  • includes multiple layers of fabric

  • allows for breathing without restriction

  • can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Children should bring an extra face covering to school in their backpacks.  We will have masks on hand in case your child does not have one, and also face shields are available, pending a doctor’s letter stating the reasons a student cannot wear a mask. 

As you are aware, the requirements may change based on research studies.  If the CDC guidance changes, this requirement will be revisited. 

If you have questions about whether a particular face covering is appropriate for school, please contact your child’s school nurse: 

Abigail Leavitt, Pownal Elementary School Nurse
Kim Gormely, Durham Community School Nurse
Brooke Rich, Morse Street School Nurse
Shannon Sampson, Morse Street School Nurse 
Erika Skiff, Mast Landing School Nurse
Emily Guyer, Freeport High School Nurse
Angela Sclar, Freeport Middle School Nurse
Maureen Erskine, Freeport Middle School Nurse 

We need your help.  We cannot do this alone.  We know that masks save lives!  Please do everything you can to help us implement these health protocols.  It is only through a collective effort that we have any chance of continuing in person learning and keeping all of us safe. 

Sincerely, 

Becky Foley
Dr. Becky Foley, RSU5 Superintendent of Schools

 

 8/6/20

Dear Parents and Staff,


Thank you to all who attended the Board meeting last night via Zoom. We truly appreciate the
participant turnout. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the slide presentation on the reopening of
school, Zoom bombers wrote racial slurs, displayed pornographic images, and drew inappropriate
drawings on the slides. It compromised the meeting and the slide presentation had to be removed.
Today we have worked to ensure that this does not happen at future meetings. We are in the
process of obtaining additional security features to our Zoom account. We anticipate testing the new
system Monday and having it operational for Wednesday’s Board meeting.
We were appalled that these images were portrayed to the audience. No one should be subjected to
the racial comments and inappropriate images that were on the screen. We apologize to those who
witnessed it. There is zero tolerance for this offensive behavior in RSU5.
Due to this incident, we are in the process of editing the video recording of last night’s meeting. The
editing is taking longer than expected due to the length of the meeting. The video will be posted
under District News on the homepage of the RSU5 website by this evening.
We hope you can all join us for Wednesday night’s Board meeting.


Sincerely,
Becky Foley, Superintendent
Michelle Ritcheson, RSU5 Board Chair

 

8-24-20 Letter from Dr. Foley

8/13/20

Dear RSU5 Families,

As many of you may have already heard, Wednesday night the Board voted unanimously to have us begin school in the yellow/hybrid level. The hope is to move to the green level by October 13. This is contingent upon the COVID data in our three towns remaining stable.

To adequately prepare for our reopening, the Board voted for a change in the school calendar. They decided to delay the students’ return until after Labor Day which will be September 8.

Additionally, the Board of Directors also approved RSU employees to have their school age children (K-7) attend school five days a week if the parents are unable to find adequate daycare.

Students with significant learning disabilities or with significant learning loss will also have an opportunity to attend school five days a week. We want to stress that the recommendation to allow staff’s students to attend five days a week is based not solely on the needs of our teachers, but on the needs of all our students. If the parents cannot work due to childcare, we would have to hire a sub to teach the students in that class, thus impacting the quality of the instruction.

There are many questions surrounding the reopening of school. By the end of the day Friday, there will be a FAQs section on the website under COVID. Please feel free to email me your questions that you would like answered.

I want to thank all of you for your input over the past couple of months. It is truly appreciated. I considered all feedback when deciding what level to recommend that we begin with in September.

It was not an easy decision. Beginning in the hybrid level will enable us to proceed cautiously and still get our children back to school. I hope you and your family have found time to enjoy our wonderful Maine summer. We look forward to welcoming your child back in just a few weeks!

Stay well,

Becky Foley, Ph.D.

Superintendent RSU

 

7-31-20 Letter from Dr. Foley

Text of Dr. Foley's letter 4/24/2020

7/6/20 Letter from Dr. Foley

 

Dear RSU 5 Families and Staff,


I hope that the April vacation brought opportunities for you and your family to take a break from remote learning and enjoy the early signs of spring.

On April 1, the RSU 5 Board of Directors approved our Remote Learning Plan. Since our first day out on March 16, we immediately started planning for the possibility that distance learning could continue for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Our first phase was to provide meals to all students and make sure that our students had internet access for remote learning. Our second phase focused on teachers connecting remotely with students to offer live instruction, and to ensure that new learning continued. We continue to adjust our course of instruction as needed. Our final phase will be to finish strong with teaching and learning until June 19. To keep all students engaged in meaningful learning, much of the learning in June will be focused on projects or interdisciplinary learning, depending on the level of the students. Each principal will communicate more specifics about what the plan entails.

All staff continue to work diligently in their respective roles. There have been questions about why support staff are continuing to be paid their full salaries when they are unable to work all of their hours. This is due to the Executive Order that Governor Mills signed and issued on March 31. While some districts have allowed their essential staff to not work at all during this period, staff in RSU 5 have followed physical distancing guidelines, and are cleaning our buildings, completing deferred maintenance projects, and feeding our students. Other support staff are working remotely, assisting students emotionally and academically through phone calls, emails, or Zoom meetings.

On April 8, Commissioner Makin recommended that all schools continue with remote learning for the remainder of the year, as the data indicated that there would not be a path for having our students return to our classrooms before finishing for the summer. An earlier announcement from her informed us that she will waive the minimum number of student days for this school year due to the pandemic as long as districts have a Remote Learning Plan. Districts across the State are now choosing to end school at varying times. Some are closing a few weeks early and using that time to help only the students who are struggling. Others are using the weeks for professional development for staff. To lessen summer learning loss for all students, we have chosen to continue with remote learning until June 19, our last regularly scheduled day due to our
four snow days used earlier this year.

There are many questions remaining about the budget. We currently have a Board adopted budget. The budget brochure was recently mailed to every household in the District. Since the brochure was published, we have revised the budget timeline due to the State’s revised schedule for elections. The new dates are as follows:

     • Annual Budget Meeting - June 17, 2020 @ Freeport High School
     • Budget Validation Referendum - July 14, 2020

These dates are still subject to change. I will keep you updated as daily life continues to evolve and revised dates can be accessed through the budget timeline. The Board will also be discussing the budget at the April 29 Board meeting which you can access via Zoom.

Thank you for all you are doing to support your child as we continue with remote learning. I hope you and your family are able to stay well, and will reach out when you need additional support for your child.


Take care and be well,
Becky Foley
Superintendent

 

4/8/20

April 8, 2020


Dear RSU 5 Families and Staff,
The superintendents just received clarification from Commissioner of Education Pender Makin
that schools must continue to provide remote/distance learning for the remainder of the 2019-
2020 school year. Our last day of remote learning will be June 19.

Since our first day out on March 16, we immediately started planning for this possibility, knowing
that distance learning may well continue for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Our
first steps were to provide meals to all students and make sure that our students had internet
access for remote learning. Our teachers are now connecting remotely with students to offer live
instruction, and ensure that new learning occurs on a regular basis.

As you know on April 1st, the RSU 5 Board of Directors approved our Remote Learning Plan. We
also will take the April vacation as scheduled which includes the professional compensation day
on April 17th. We will continue to provide meals for students on Mondays, Wednesdays and
Fridays every week, including during April vacation week.

Moving forward our goal is to provide the best opportunities for remote learning. We will
continue to explore all options to provide closure for this academic year. Thank you for all you are
doing to support your child as we continue with remote learning. I hope you and your families are
weathering this crisis as well as possible.

Take care and be well,

Becky Foley
Superintendent

 

 

4/5/20

April 5, 2020

Dear RSU 5 Families,

As we complete three weeks of students not being in our schools, we hope you and your family are doing well. Please reach out to us if we can provide better support to you and your family in any way.

On April 1st, the RSU 5 Board of Directors approved our Remote Learning Plan We know this does not replace having our students in the classroom. The staff in RSU 5 has met the daunting challenge of quickly getting distance learning up and running with minimal training. This disruption provides us with an opportune time to learn so that when we return, we will have new and better ways of teaching and learning.

In accordance with Governor Mills’ mandate, issued on March 31st, RSU 5 schools will remain closed through Friday, May 1st, with a tentative date to re-open on May 4th. Please be aware this return date is subject to change as communities continue to maintain the necessary physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. During this time, our school playground structures are closed to the public as we are unable to clean them after every individual use. We are keeping the track and field open as long as the community remains vigilant about physical distancing. Additionally, play dates of any type are discouraged during this time, unless it is done remotely. Please continue to find other ways to reach out, stay healthy, help those in need, and support one another. Thank you for your understanding.

Along with most other school districts in Maine, we are keeping our current 2019/2020 school calendars as intact as possible, and will take the April vacation as scheduled which includes the professional compensation day on April 17th. There will be no virtual real time instruction from teachers on that day.

On April 1st, the Board of Directors adopted the FY 21 budget. You should be receiving the Budget Brochure outlining key elements of the budget in the near future. Our hope is that there will be a way to hold our annual budget meeting on May 27 at Freeport High School, but this is subject to change. I will keep you informed as changes occur.

We are in this together. I want to thank you for your emails of support during this time. We can’t wait for the day that our students walk back through the doors of our schools! Be well,

Becky Foley
Superintendent

 

3/20/20

Dear RSU 5 Families and Staff,

When I wrote to you a week ago, we were hopeful that this would only be a two-week closing period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last week, we have had multiple CDC updates as the number of afflicted people has rapidly increased. As I write this, there are 56 confirmed cases in Maine with 35 of them in Cumberland County, and 3 in Androscoggin County, the counties where our students and families learn and live.

Based upon Governor Mill’s Proclamation of State of Civil Emergency, guidance from the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), our remote learning model will continue and the earliest date of school reopening will be Monday, April 27, 2020. We will continually reassess as conditions evolve. We hope this announcement gives our families enough notice to plan accordingly.

The first few days of remote learning have gone well. Thank you for your patience as we have worked out some of the kinks. During these unprecedented times, families have very different needs. We have the capacity to individualize learning based upon your family’s needs. If you are finding you need support in any way with remote learning, we urge you to contact your school’s principal. We are here to support you and your child.

In order to follow guidance on social distancing, we have closed all buildings to the public, and have shifted primarily to communicating by telephone, email, or by appointment. During the pandemic, we implore you to practice social distancing, which is painful but necessary. Social distancing and handwashing are the two greatest steps we can take to protect our community from the spread of COVID-19. Please stay safe and healthy in the coming weeks.

Sincerely,

Becky Foley Superintendent

 

3/14/20

Dear RSU 5 Families and Staff,


I am writing to inform you that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be closing all of our schools for two weeks beginning on Monday, March 16th through Friday, March 27, with decisions on potential longer closures to be made at that time. This applies to all RSU5 facilities, including Community Programs and the Laugh and Learn Program. The immediate plan is for all programs to resume on Monday, March 30th.

After consulting with the Department of Education, other Cumberland County superintendents, and my administrative team, I have determined that this closure is the only responsible action to take. This closure is in response to the call by medical professionals to implement practices of social distancing as we all work to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This closure is not the result of any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our immediate community, though we know the virus is present in Cumberland and Androscoggin County. We are taking this proactive approach out of an abundance of caution and in an effort to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases in Maine. This will also allow time to disinfect all of our buildings and buses.

On Monday, staff will report to work as usual and will participate in professional development activities in order to provide the best possible remote learning opportunities for students. On Wednesday, March 18, remote learning will begin with teachers providing lessons to students and/or parents. Additionally, meal programming will begin on Wednesday, March 18th. Further information about this will follow in the next couple of days.

We know remote learning will not fully replace the classroom settings that students experience each day. We also know this will be “messy” at times – especially in the first few days – but we are determined to continue to provide learning opportunities for all students, and we ask for your patience and flexibility as we work through what will likely be many kinks in this process. We are aware of the fact that closing schools will be a hardship for all families. For our most disadvantaged community members, it will represent an even greater hardship.

Students and parents will be able to drop by the schools at times designated by your school principal. Please be on the lookout for follow-up letters from your child’s principal.

During this closure, we ask that you assist by minimizing group meetings of students and adults. Practicing social distancing and good personal hygiene are the two greatest steps we can take to protect our community from the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to stay in touch with you throughout these remote learning days. We understand this is a time of great uncertainty, and are here to support you and your children while at the same time doing our best to insure healthy practices for all in the community.

Sincerely,

Becky Foley
Superintendent

 

3/12/20

Dear RSU5 Families,

Today, Maine has reported one presumed positive case of Coronavirus 19 in Androscoggin County. The Maine Center for Disease Control (Maine CDC) says we are not yet seeing widespread community transmission in Maine. However, Governor Mills provided some recommendations today that we will be following in RSU5.

Governor Mills is not recommending schools be closed, so our focus is to continue to educate our schools while keeping them healthy and safe. We continue to take the following steps to protect our students and staff:

  • Enhanced cleaning of frequently touched surfaces in our schools.

  • Limiting public access to student gatherings.

  • Encouraging everyone – students, staff, school volunteers and visitors – to wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Encouraging everyone to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

  • Encouraging everyone to avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick. Encouraging those who are sick to keep their distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

  • Practicing other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Limiting public access to gatherings and activities
On the advice from the Department of Education (DOE) and from Governor Mills, we are canceling all gatherings that involve bringing large groups of people into the schools (e.g. concerts, plays, inter-district activities) for the upcoming month. In addition, we are canceling all out of state trips and oversee trips that were planned. Smaller gatherings will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Parent-Teacher Conferences
We will proceed with our scheduled parent-teacher conferences at this time. We ask parents/guardians who are sick or exhibiting symptoms to conduct their conference over the phone or reschedule. 

Share Your Travel History
RSU5 families and staff should alert the school nurse if they’ve traveled to countries that have Centers for Disease Control (CDC) alert or warning level health notices, or have been in close contact with someone who has. You can find information about CDC travel alerts at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Students Ill or Immunocompromised
Any child exhibiting signs of COVID-19 (fever, dry cough, sore throat and shortness of breath) while at school will be kept in a safe area of the school away from other students or staff until a parent or guardian can take them home. Any student with a fever should stay home until they are fever-free without medication for 24 hours. Parents of students whose immune systems are compromised have discretion on whether to send their child to school. If you do not send your child to school due to concerns about contracting the virus, the absence will be excused.

School Closings
In the event that schools need to be closed, we will develop plans to provide students with learning
materials to use at home. For students in grades 6-12 with one-to-one devices, this plan will
include the development of tech-enabled solutions.

This is a constantly changing landscape that will require us to all work together. I will continue to update you as things evolve. You can go to the link on our website for the most recent communications at https://www.rsu5.org/Content2/640

I will be meeting with superintendents from across Cumberland County tomorrow morning to make further decisions regarding other upcoming events and to work on the establishment of a common protocol for these decisions to be made across our region while allowing for local exceptions to be made. Please know that the safety and health of our students is always first and foremost in our minds.
 

Sincerely,
 

Becky Foley
Superintendent

 

3/1/20

March 1, 2020

Dear RSU5 Families & Staff,  

March is here, and our students and staff are still grappling with the flu. With the outbreak of Coronavirus 19 (COVID-19) worldwide, this has added to the concerns about the safety of our students’ health. Thus far, there are currently no reported cases in Maine and the chance of an outbreak is low. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is responding by working with the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) to provide frequent guidance and updates to all districts throughout Maine. Additionally, we have a District Safety Committee that meets regularly to ensure the safety and health of all our students and staff.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you have any of these symptoms and have not been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, it is most likely you have a cold or flu. As a precaution, students or staff who recently traveled outside the United States and who have respiratory symptoms or fever should inform their health care provider about their travel history. I want to remind staff, students, and parents about steps we can all take to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses such as the flu:

  • Students and staff should stay home when they are sick. If students or staff members have a fever, they should stay home until they are fever-free without the use of medication for 24 hours.
  • Everyone – students, staff, school volunteers and visitors – should wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. The CDC says this is the first line of defense. If you cannot wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60-95% alcohol.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

In the event of an outbreak in our community, we will follow CDC recommendations and we will be providing frequent communication to all stakeholders. Those recommendations could include school closings. School closing decisions are typically made by the Maine CDC, and depend on the number of people infected and the risk of the disease spreading.

Sincerely,

Becky Foley
Superintendent of Schools