As Maine people and schools prepare for the season and time with loved ones, and as the Maine Department of Education (DOE) reflects on what we are thankful for through the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine DOE Commissioner Pender Makin sends a special message of gratitude to Maine schools, including staff, teachers, specialists, school and district administrators, nurses, custodians, support staff, substitute educators, child nutrition workers, transportation drivers, volunteers, caregivers and all of those who support our schools- for their tireless work to ensure children around the state have access to education and essential support services through one of the most challenging years we have ever experienced.
“Hi friends my name is Pender Makin and I’m Commissioner of Education for the State of Maine. Like all of you, I’ve had to reinvent my role, scrap my carefully developed plans, and adjust my approach to pretty much everything throughout these past eight months. Together Maine’s educators school staff building and district leadership and your support team here at the Department of Education have shouldered the heavy responsibilities of safely reopening schools for in-person classes recognizing that so much of our society’s eventual recovery from this pandemic depends upon a strong healthy school system.
I wanted to take a minute today to thank you for your extraordinary efforts and deep commitment to the education of Maine’s children. Because of your courage and hard work, 100 % of Maine public school administrative units were able to safely open up this fall and because of your diligent attention to the six requirements for health and safety at school, Maine schools are significantly safer than other settings in the greater community. Data provided to me this morning indicates that our public school students and staff members are less than half as likely to be positive with COVID-19. As the general population, specifically those who attend or work in Maine public schools currently have only 40 percent the positivity rate that we’re seeing across other sectors of our state. Please know that your efforts and contributions are making all the difference for the students and communities you serve and for our state as a whole as we remain in a state of civil emergency and everyone has had to be hyper vigilant for such a long time now.
We’ve been asking more of our schools than we’ve ever had to ask before and yet as we enter what seems like it might be the epicenter of the pandemic and with our daylight diminishing into the solstice ahead I’m asking something more of you – please take care of yourselves. Be gentle with your expectations, and give yourselves the grace that educators and others who keep schools running tend to offer so generously to others. Acknowledge that this has all been extremely difficult and own the fact that collectively you’ve been knocking it out of the park in terms of supporting students and in terms of providing your entire communities with steadfast assurance in a time of uncertainty.
You see, local public schools have always been far more than buildings where academic learning occurs. The schools give shape and identity to our communities the schools hold us together in shared purpose and in a shared promise that we all make to the better future that awaits us.
Thank you for your heroic work throughout this extraordinary time.”