COVID-19 and Coronavirus Information

Important websites:
 

 

The RSU 5 Board of Directors will meet remotely using Zoom. To join this meeting please follow the following instructions:

Copying and paste the following link into the address bar of your web browser
Click https://networkmaine.zoom.us/s/287866880

Or join meeting by Telephone
For higher quality, dial a number based on your current location.
Dial:    US : +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 408 638 0968 or +1 669 900 6833

Meeting ID:    287 866 880

 

Please note:  Superintendent Foley's messages are listed below, with the most recent at the top.

 

Text of Dr. Foley's letter 3/20/2020 - Continued Closing of Schools till 4/27/2020

 

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

 

Text of Dr. Foley's letter 3/14/2020 - Closing of Schools till 3/30/2020

 

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

 

 

Text of Dr. Foley's letter 3/12/2020

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

 

 

CORONAVIRUS LETTER FROM SUPERINTENDENT FOLEY

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

 

 

 

 

 

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