As you have been made aware, the Yarmouth School Department has been preparing for the impact of coronavirus (COVID 19) for the past several weeks. With news of this global pandemic rapidly evolving, it is important that our response remain flexible and that our communications are plentiful. Moments ago, Governor Mills announced the first presumptive case of coronavirus in Maine and recommended that schools and organizations make earnest attempts to limit non-essential indoor gatherings that expose individuals to large groups. To that end, I am writing today to notify you of additional precautions we will be taking as we move forward.
As of today (Thursday, March 12), and for the foreseeable future:
- All field trips will be canceled. These are school-day trips that take groups or classes of students to out-of-town locations and are a requirement of all students in attendance on that day. We will make a decision at a later date as to the appropriate time to reinstate such trips.
- Student performances and competitions will be suspended until further notice. This includes athletics, drama, music, and other activities that will be communicated to you by the school principal. It is our hope that any performances will be merely postponed until later this year, but we cannot guarantee that to be the case at this time. Groups that practice or rehearse on school grounds may continue to do so, but any off-site practices/rehearsals will be canceled.
- Events that draw significant crowds (e.g. Kindergarten information night) will be postponed and, possibly, restructured to allow for smaller settings. Again, school principals will communicate those changes to you as appropriate.
- Events that bring large numbers of visitors into the schools will be postponed or restructured to allow for student participation without the need for visitors.
These are difficult decisions, as we value tremendously the learning opportunities provided by each of these activities. Still – the health of our students and their families is paramount – and we understand the need to assist the larger population move toward eradication of coronavirus through social distancing.
Potential for on-line learning in the event schools are closed:
It is our intent to maintain the integrity of our core academic programming as much as possible. In order to do that, we continue to prepare for the possibility that schools may be closed for an extended period of time, with lessons being provided through an on-line format for students in all grade levels. For that to be successful, we must be assured that each student has internet access at home that will allow for ongoing communication with the teacher and classmates as well as the capability to watch videos. If you do not have internet connectivity at home, I encourage you to contact Mike Arsenault, our Technology Coordinator, so he may assist you in getting connected, or reach out to your child’s principal. Mike may be reached at Harrison Middle School (846-2499) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your continued concern for our students and the larger community as we work together to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Andrew Dolloff, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools