MAINE, USA — As businesses, restaurants, and other public places gradually reopen throughout Maine, schools have remained a relative mystery.
The University of Maine system, Bates College, and Bowdoin College have all released their plans for students to return in the fall, which all include at least some version of students returning to campus. But what about elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools in Maine?
The Maine Department of Education says it continues to work with educators and health experts from across the state to develop health markers and corresponding plans to ensure the safe return to classroom instruction amid concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
As this work develops, the department is seeking input from additional stakeholders from across the state, and will release a survey on July 6.
Four different surveys have been created, specific to the role of the person completing the survey, including: 1. Teachers and educational technicians; 2. School or SAU leadership; 3. Specialists and student support staff or 4. Family member. The surveys will be available HERE beginning July 6 through July 12.
The Family Survey is available in 11 languages. The department hopes people will provide comment and share their opinions on the 2020-2021 school year and possible models and needs for a safe return to classroom instruction.
The department says the data and feedback will be compiled by the research group and considered by the team who will continue to revise the framework over the next month.
While these surveys will provide a snapshot at the state and county level, the department says many superintendents have asked for and are reviewing their own community-specific information, which will inform the work of their Collaborative Planning Team in developing instructional plans that will be responsive to risk levels.
On June 11, 2020, the department released the first draft of a framework to assist school administrative units (SAUs) in developing their plans and determining their capacity to meet the national CDC guidelines for safely returning to classroom instruction. The department says this draft framework will continue to evolve and will be developed based on science and community health markers.
In a press release, the Department of Education said the following:
Your participation in these surveys is greatly appreciated in preparation for the next school year. Our fervent hope is that our continued trends in the battle against COVID-19 here in Maine will allow our schools to resume classroom instruction for the start of the 2020-2021 school year, as our schools serve as a stabilizing force for our communities, students, families and the economy. Yet, it is prudent at this time to both hope for the best, and prepare for many possible scenarios.