On Tuesday evening, April 7, 2020, Commissioner of Education Pender Makin, with the support of Governor Mills, made the recommendation to Maine schools to extend their remote learning plans until the end of the current school year.
“School classrooms are closed, but schools are not,” said Commissioner Makin. “The dedicated educators and staff are still providing educational continuity, nutrition services, and even emotional support and counseling services through remote/distance learning and teleservices. During this state of emergency, many familiar systems and supports in our society have been upended, leaving people feeling disoriented. Maine’s schools are providing deeply necessary connections, reliable services, and are – in fact – holding the fabric of our communities together.”
Commissioner Makin acknowledged closing school buildings was a difficult decision made only after consultation with the experts, including guidance from the national and local CDC. She confirmed that the Maine Department of Education has been in daily consultation with Maine CDC and with Dr. Shah regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are looking forward to the eventual development of a process for determining when it might be safe to resume in-person classroom instruction. Because we continue to see double-digit increases each day in the number of new cases in our state, the metrics for determining this have not yet been developed,” Makin said.
Commissioner Makin said she announced her recommendation now in order to give families and schools time to plan and provide alternative ways to celebrate and conduct end-of-year events.
“School administrators, staff, students, and communities deserve as accurate a picture as we can provide with respect to this evolving situation, and it will require a longer term continuation of remote instruction,” she said.
Makin said Maine has joined the other states who have either mandated or recommended schools not return to in-class instruction for the year. “This is difficult on everyone, but necessary to protect the health and safety of students, school staff, and community members,” she said.