March 27th is International SEL Day

Urban Assembly and SEL4US encourage educators around the World to recognize the importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) on this International SEL Day.

Kellie D. Bailey MA CCC-SLP, MMT/SELI began her work here at the Maine DOE on Feburary 6, 2020 to support Commissioner Makin’s educational platform for putting the social emotional learning needs first for all Maine students. Commissioner Makin knows first hand that when we teach from the heart we are truly seeing each child and paying attention on purpose to the unique being that he or she is.

SEL is the most effective way of building strong and meaningful connections which ultimately leads to optimal learning.  Until the outbreak of COVID 19, Kellie worked in the field providing SEL supports across the State of Maine. Today she continues to do so remotely providing Brain Based SEL supports with her colleague Bear Shea first thing in the morning and the last thing in the afternoon. “SEL is for all human beings.  Our educators and school support staff are facing unprecedented times and they are feeling the effects of not being able to connect with their students and colleagues. There is an overwhelming sense of urgency for the well being of our students, staff and community. Now more than ever it is critically important to check in with ourselves and ask the question, How Am I Doing Right This Minute? Staying tuned into our own anxiety and taking the important steps to center and ground ourselves is the most effective way to stay resilient for our students who are counting on us to send the message that they are safe.

Kellie reminds everyone involved with education to take moments to self reflect and check in with the self. Recognition of how one feels and where that feeling lives in the body, heart and mind is the first step in development of our own social intelligence. Kellie adds that “Moving away from the automaticity of our lives and becoming present for small moments will make a tremendous difference in how we cope with the stressors related to COVID 19 and life in general. Practicing being present and noticing basic needs and taking care to provide ourselves with those needs allows us to continue to be present for others with a deeper connection. On this first International SEL Day, may we each feel safe, connected, safe and loved and take a few small moments to Breathe on Purpose.”

Maine DOE Stays Connected with Educators Through Daily Virtual Office Hours

In an otherwise isolating time, Maine Department of Education (DOE) staff have never felt more connected to Maine’s education field. Through daily virtual office hours, Maine DOE staff have been hosting content specific and mindfulness online meetings with school staff in an effort to answer questions, connect teachers and other school staff with one another, and offer resources and advice about how to provide remote learning and school support while school buildings are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The meetings have been a gift of time with Maine educators,” said Maine DOE Career and Education Development Specialist Diana Doiron. “We connect at a very human level, collectively sharing our questions, our insights, our worries, what is working well, and what resources are worth recommending to others.”

In daily email blasts to educators, school and district administrators, and other school personnel, DOE staff are sharing links to join various sessions held using online conferencing platforms. This allows anyone interested to join meetings remotely, see the faces and hear the voices of other education professionals from Maine who are experiencing, and in some cases overcoming, challenges like never before.

While school buildings are closed around the state, educators and other support staff are tasked with the unprecedented challenge of continuing to support and connect with their students, all while experiencing an unanticipated isolation, having to distance themselves from other people while COVID-19 creeps its way into communities across the globe.

“Every session has been exemplary and so helpful at this unusually confusing and difficult time,” said Woodside Elementary School Counselor Helene McGlauflin, who has been regularly attending sessions on social emotional learning and school mental health supports.

“I participated in two of his [Maine DOE Social Studies Specialist Joe Schmidt’s] office hours on Tuesday, and they were great, primarily in that they weren’t scripted,” said one of the participants. “He wanted teachers to set the agenda with their questions and concerns.”

Originally offered as a way to provide resources for remote learning for traditional education subject areas like math, social studies, and the arts, the popular sessions quickly expanded into other areas like special education, social emotional supports, and school finance, among many others topics. The virtual office hours have been widely attended by Maine school staff drawing anywhere from 50 to upwards of 300 people in some of the sessions. With an average of 30 sessions held per day since March 16th, the virtual meetings have drawn educators from other states and even some international participants.

“I’ve had tremendous response to these sessions,” said Maine DOE School Nurse Consultant Emily Poland. “I started providing sessions once per week, but now I do them twice weekly. Today there were 178 people on!”

An outside-the-box session with an element of well-being for school staff has recently been added to the mix. Fifteen-minute Brain Centered Emotional Support sessions are being offered at the beginning and end of each weekday to bolster resilience and provide a chance to connect and share space with school professionals around the state. The sessions are hosted by Maine DOE Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Specialist Kellie D. Bailey and Mental Health/School Counselor Specialist Bear Shea and have provided a space for educators and school staff to take a deep breath and be mindful of their own well-being before they try to address the needs of others.

“LOVED this today,” said MSAD 40 Assistant Superintendent Cristina Wotton after one of the first Brain Centered Emotional Support sessions. “I felt like jelly after, why do we resist taking care of ourselves? Thank you!”

“As a Special Services Department, we at MSAD 20 have greatly appreciated the timely and impactful support that we’ve received through the Brain Based Emotional Support sessions provided each day,” said MSAD 20 Director of Programs for Exceptional Children Eric McGough. “In our staff meetings, these are consistently brought up as being of great value not only to helping us design supportive experiences and resources for our students, but also in helping us carry on with our work during these difficult times.”

The Department has vowed to continue offering the virtual office hours for as long as needed in addition to continuing to provide a listing of resources for remote learning and support, as well as regular updates and other essential resources for schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department is in the process of working with educators and school staff to provide more focused support sessions and virtual professional development options in addition to transitioning to more consistent virtual meeting schedule.

RSU 16 Teacher Creates YouTube Channel to Connect with Families #RSU16Learns

RSU 16 Teacher Valerie Young has created a YouTube channel to connect with all families in Poland, Minot and Mechanic Falls.  She crafts challenges and ideas for home learning from using the Maine Gazetteer, to the sales flyer from the newspaper, to creating a haiku. Here is an example of one of her videos.

Young is helping #RSU16Learns while having fun!  Here is a link to see all of the videos in her YouTube Channel. She encourages everyone to join her!

Submitted by Amy Hediger, Assistant Superintendent at RSU 16 as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit stories or ideas, email them to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Meals-to-You: Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Policy

Meals-to-You is an alternative method available to school districts to provide meals during unanticipated school closures. Originally started as a pilot program, Meals to You is a collaboration between the United States Department of Agriculture and Baylor University wherein eligible students unreached by traditional Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP) receive shelf stable, nutritious meals right at their door step that children can prepare on their own. This program is directed towards rural families, for whom traditional SFSP options are a challenge due to distance and transportation. The program is at no cost to the district.

Below are parameters for how the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty can be used in school districts to serve families affected by COVID-19-related school closures. This is one of the many summer food service options school districts can use to ensure their kids have access to nutritious food during unexpected school closures.

Eligibility Criteria:

Districts that wish to participate must meet the following criteria:

  • Have schools located in rural areas within Maine. Rural designations can be found through:
  • The National Center of Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov)
  • USDA rural designation (fns.usda.gov/rural-designation).
  • Click here to check if your district meets this rural criteria
  • Have announced a school closure lasing four weeks or longer
  • Be willing to participate in the Summer Food Service Program(SFSP)
  • Have schools that are area eligible, based on the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

Applications meeting the above criteria will be processed on a first come, first serve basis. If qualified proposals exceed service capacity, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) will prioritize based on the free and reduced eligibility of the schools or the identified student percentage of a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school, where relevant.

Process to Apply:

Districts interested in applying must visit: https://mealstoyou.org/emergency-meals-to-you-school-districts/ to complete the application. Applications must be emailed to Stephanie Stambach, DOE Child Nutrition at  Stephanie.Stambach@maine.gov.

The DOE will verify that the school district meets the eligibility criteria and that Meals-to-You applications match information the DOE has on file. The DOE then emails the application to the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty for approval: info@mealstoyou.org.

Once the school district application is approved, families must enroll to receive meals. The district will determine how family enrollment can occur in one of two ways:

1.Families enroll electronically on the Meals to You website: https://mealstoyou.org/emergency-to-you-families  OR

  1. School districts can develop a call center process where school staff contact families for their information, including mailing addresses. The district then prepares a spreadsheet of the children with their student IDs and forwards to the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty.

Once enrollment is verified, the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty will connect school districts with vendors to start delivering meals. Two weeks’ worth of breakfasts and lunches that meet the Summer Food Service Program meal requirements will then be sent to families via USPS or UPS. There is a relatively short turnaround time once the enrollments have been processed.

For more information and questions regarding Meals to You please contact:

Stephanie Stambach MS, RD, SNS
Child Nutrition Consultant
Maine Department of Education
Phone: 207-624-6732 (office)/ 207-215-9437 (work cell)
Stephanie.Stambach@maine.gov
 

School Transportation: FMCSA Emergency Declaration and CDL Waiver-3.24.20

Q- What waivers or exemptions from driver requirements have been issued associated with school and transportation department shutdowns and their attendant difficulties, such as CDL licenses expiring, drug and alcohol random testing disruptions, medical examiner certificates (MECs) expiring, and the like?

A1- Drug and Alcohol Testing: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an emergency declaration related to some FMCSA regulations in 49 CFR Part 390-399.  In this declaration, they specifically state this is not an exemption from the controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements, 49 CFR Part 382.  All testing, including random testing, should continue as required.  However, if a school is shut down and no school bus driver is performing safety sensitive functions, testing cannot be performed.  The employer will need to note why the randomly selected drivers were not tested during the selection period.  Employers may wish to document the date the random test was scheduled and the dates the donor was not performing safety-sensitive functions.  The employer will still be required to meet the random testing percentages for 2020 of 50 percent for drugs and 10 percent for alcohol.  Once schools reopen and throughout the remainder of the calendar year, employers will need to increase their random testing to ensure compliance.  Employers should work closely with their testing providers to monitor compliance and stay apprised of any waivers or delays that may be approved within the federal regulations.

A2- Commercial Driver Licensing and Medical Examiner Certificates: On March 24, 2020, the FMCSA issued a “Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency – For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles,” available here.   The waiver is multi-part and provides until June 30, 2020, a waiver from certain regulations applicable to interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).  It includes the following provisions:

  • Extends until June 30, 2020 the maximum period of CDL validity by waiving 49 CFR 383.73(b)(9) and 383.73(d)(6) for CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Extends until June 30, 2020 the maximum period of CLP validity by waiving 49 CFR 383.73(a)(2)(iii) and 383.25(c) for CLPs that are due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 383.25(e) that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 391.45 that CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers have a medical examination and certification, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification that was issued for a period of 90 days or longer and that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 383.71(h)(3) that, in order to maintain the medical certification status of “certified,” CDL or CLP holders provide the State Driver Licensing Agency with an original or copy of a subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 383.73(o)(2) that the State Driver Licensing Agency change the CDL or CLP holder’s medical certification status to “not certified” upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided that the CDL or CLP holders have proof of a valid medical certification that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Waives the requirements under 49 CFR 383.73(o)(4) that the State Driver Licensing Agency initiate a CDL or CLP downgrade upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided that the CDL or CLP holders have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • In accordance with 49 CFR 383.23(a)(1) and 391.41(a)(1)(i), FMCSA continues to recognize the validity of commercial driver’s licenses issued by Canadian Provinces and Territories and Licencias Federales de Conductor issued by the United Mexican States, in accordance with 49 CFR part 383, when such jurisdictions issue a similar notice or declaration extending the validity date of the medical examination and certification and/or validity of the corresponding commercial driver’s license due to interruption to government service resulting from COVID-19.

States, CDL holders, CLP holders, and interstate non-CDL CMV drivers are covered under this waiver without further action.

FMCSA will not issue a finding of noncompliance under 49 CFR part 384 against States for action or inaction consistent with this waiver.

Regarding Medical Examiner Certificates, although the federal ME regulations do not extend to most public school bus drivers under federal authority, many states have look-alike or more stringent regulations for medical examinations and qualifications of school bus drivers.  NASDPTS recommends that you contact your state director of student transportation or other regulating state agency, as individual states may have instituted similar relief measures during the current crisis.  Since this situation is evolving so rapidly, we recommend checking back frequently at the FMCSA Emergency Declarations page located here.

Source:  National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) Information Report: Coronavirus and Student Transportation, March 24, 2020.

If needed, here are the actual links referenced above:

  1. FMCSA emergency declaration:  https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency-declarations#FMCSA
  2. NASDPTS contact for state director of student transportation:  http://www.nasdpts.org/Directors/index.html
  3. FMCSA CDL Waiver-3.24.20 (Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency – For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles):  https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/fmcsa-cdl-waiver-32420