Building School Capacity Through Community Collaboration

On June 12, the Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE) is joining the Maine Resilience Building Network (MRBN) to provide a free, full-day opportunity for school and community prevention partners to learn and think about ways to collaborate to address challenging topics such as mental health, substance use, and student health.

Participants will learn about resources and funding that is available to develop, implement and evaluate comprehensive activities and programs that are focused on supporting safe and healthy students.

All school personnel who are familiar with their school district’s Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) and are knowledgeable of their school’s goals to provide students with access to a well-rounded education and to improve school conditions for student learning are encouraged to participate.

All community prevention partners who have the tools and resources to address safe, healthy, supportive and drug-free environments and are wanting to work with schools to address problems that relate to mental health and substance use are encouraged to participate.

In addition, pediatrician Dr. Ken Ginsburg, via Zoom from Philadelphia, will engage with participants to discuss strength based approaches to reaching teens through school and community engagement efforts.

The day’s agenda will also include: school and community prevention partners’ success stories; a panel presentation with representation from Maine DOE, programs within Maine DHHS, MRBN, and the CAN (Child Abuse and Neglect) Council; an overview of Dr. Ginsburg’s Building Blocks of Resilience (the 7Cs); and facilitated discussion.

This learning opportunity will be held in the Bangor Savings Bank in Augusta on June 12, 2019, beginning at 8:30am and ending by 4:00pm.  Lunch will be provided.

Registration and an agenda for the day can be found here.  Registration closes June 4, 2019

For more information or to ask questions, please contact Sarah Adkins, Student Assistance Coordinator at the Maine DOE at sarah.adkins@maine.gov, 624-6685, or Kini-Ana Tinkham, Interim Executive Director, Maine Resilience Building Network at kini.tinkham@gmail.com.

School Health Annual Reporting Window is Open

The Department is announcing that the School Health Annual Report is now available through the Reporting Calendar. The reporting window closes on July 31, 2019. This report contains both required reporting components for all schools, public, charter, and private, as well as an optional section. As a reminder, we will be collecting only one report for every school administrative unit. In the past, this report has been done by each school. The reporting link is available through the calendar; the superintendent will determine who will compile and submit the data from all schools within the SAU. The data does not need to be submitted by your health staff; it can be entered by whomever the Superintendent determines is appropriate.

You may preview and print the reporting tool in order to aid data collection among your schools. The following is a list of the data points that are being collected:

  • Number of students screened for distance acuity, near acuity, and hearing in the required grades and the number of students referred/number of students with completed referral (required reporting per Chapter 45)
  • Summary of epinephrine administration (required reporting per Chapter 40)
  • Staffing levels for health services (direct services, supplemental staff, special assignments, supervisory position provided by RN, LPN, and health aides)
  • Number of students with a diagnosis (from a health care provider) of asthma, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, seizure disorder, life threatening allergy
  • Health office visits & disposition (number of students seen face to face by RN, LPN, health aide and resulting disposition: return to class, sent home, or 911 call)

Collecting school health data informs local, state, and national student health policy and helps to promote best practices in school health services. Creating data driven polices to advocate for the needs of students, we can increase evidence-based school nursing practice and improve youth health outcomes.

The School Health Annual Report summary for 2017-18 is available if you are interested.

If you have questions about the School Health Annual Report please contact the School Nurse Consultant, Emily Poland at Emily.Poland@Maine.gov or 207-624-6688.

 

 

School Safety and Security Bulletin: Children Healing After Crisis

Throughout the 2018- 2019 school year, the Maine Department of Education, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Department of Health and Human Services, Maine State Police, Maine Sheriffs Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency will provide tips and resource information to Maine schools to help provide some guidance for identifying signs and preventing school violence.

Further questions and inquiries can be send to Pat Hinckley, Maine DOE Transportation and Facilities Administrator at 207-624-6886 or pat.hinckley@maine.gov. 

Tips for Supporting Muslim Students During Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr

Maine is home to many Muslim families, and the Maine Department of Education would like to provide some general information about Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr to schools, so they can support their schools’ Muslim community members as they enjoy this very special time of year.

Ramadan is a month-long fast observed by Muslims around the world. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. To wish someone a happy Ramadan, you can say “Ramadan Kareem” or “Ramadan Mubarak.”

This year, in the United States Ramadan will start around May 5th and end around June 4th. The official beginning and end of the month of Ramadan will not be announced until the sighting of the new moon. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is about 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, Ramadan happens about 11 days earlier each year.

During Ramadan, most Muslims fast (i.e., consume no food or water) from dawn to dusk. Many Muslims also pray more frequently and make special efforts to be kind, generous, and compassionate. This is a joyous time of year, and each Iftar (post-sunset meal to break the fast) is a celebrated opportunity to gather with friends and family. Muslims may also wake before dawn to eat Suhoor (a pre-dawn meal), which helps give them energy to endure the day’s fast. (Iftar and Suhoor timings can be found here.) For some Muslims, the typical patterns of sleep are shifted so that more waking hours occur during the night, which can make it difficult to wake up early and stay alert during the day.

Typically, very young children do not fast or may fast only part of the day. Some Muslims may not fast when they are travelling, ill, pregnant, breastfeeding, or menstruating. In these cases, fasting days can be made up for at a later time. Elderly and chronically ill people who are not well enough to fast may give charitably instead.

After Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr (the festival of breaking the fast) is a three-day celebration with feasts and gatherings of families. This is an extremely important and cheerful time of year for Muslims, and students will likely be absent for all or part of the three days. Children often receive a new outfit or a small amount of money as a gift from their family for the holiday. To wish someone a happy Eid, you can say, “Eid Saeed” or “Eid Mubarak.”

Here are a few tips for supporting students during Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr.

  1. Learn about Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr.

There are many resources available online that can help you understand how and why Ramadan is observed. Keep in mind that practices may vary depending on culture, so your students and their families are the best sources of information about their Ramadan traditions. Here are a couple of articles that give a general overview.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/religion/what-ramadan-six-things-know-about-muslim-holy-month-n586426

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/ramadan

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Eid-al-Fitr

  1. Encourage cultural sensitivity for all school community members.

Fasting can have many physical and mental effects, such as fatigue, lack of concentration, and irritability. For your students, your understanding and support can help ensure that they continue to learn and make the most out of their time at school while fasting. Teachers, school nurses, sports coaches, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, and all other staff who interact with students will need to know how fasting can affect students.

Talking with staff and students about Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr helps encourage an atmosphere of cultural awareness and sensitivity for the whole school community. Sensitivity towards fasting students includes avoiding consuming food and beverages in front of them whenever possible. Consider holding any celebrations that include food, such as awards banquets, after Iftar (sunset).

  1. Ask students and their families how you can best support them.

Some schools may choose to offer a place for students to go during lunchtime, alternative options for physical education, or dedicated prayer spaces. Schools may also avoid scheduling assessments or other required activities during Eid-al-Fitr, when students are likely to be absent. The best way to ensure that your school is a supportive, culturally-aware learning environment is to involve students, families, and other community members in planning and policy creation. Check out these two articles for some practical ideas that may benefit fasting students.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/column-teachers-can-support-students-ramadan

http://www.isre.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Schools-Guide-to-Ramadan-2.pdf

  1. Have a clear, well-communicated policy on tardies and absences.

Maine’s statute on excused absences is Title 20-A, Section §3272. It states that an absence is excused when it is for “observance of a recognized religious holiday when the observance is required during the regular school day and the absence has prior approval.” Fasting during Ramadan is a required religious observance, and the physical and mental demands of fasting may cause students’ tardies and absences to increase. Eid-al-Fitr celebrations are also religious observances. Districts will need to share clear expectations for attendance with students and families. It is highly recommended to develop these expectations in collaboration with your community members, recognizing that interpretation and translation may be necessary to ensure meaningful communication.

 

Free technical assistance/tools to support a District Wellness Policy

The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 requires all school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program to update and implement a wellness policy. Let’s Go!, Maine’s Obesity Prevention Program, is available to support and strengthen your district wellness policy and to encourage an active and healthy school environment.

Local district wellness policies play a leading role in promoting good health and preventing obesity in schools.  Researchers have linked healthy eating and physical activity with increased academic performance and positive classroom behavior.

Let’s Go! is available to provide school districts with free technical assistance and resources that support and strengthen a school wellness policy.  Let’s Go! is dedicated to working with school districts to create healthier school environments for all Maine youth.

If interested, please click here for more information or contact Let’s Go! staff at letsgo@mmc.org.