WEBINAR: Strategies for Safely Returning to School: The Latest Federal Guidance

The U.S. Department of Education is hosting a webinar series to support educational settings in safely sustaining or returning to in-person instruction. The series features the latest federal guidance, and lessons learned and best practices from faculty, staff, schools, districts, institutions of higher education, early childhood education providers, and other places of educational instruction describing approaches to operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools, the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) invites you to join the next webinar, Strategies for Safely Returning to School: The Latest Federal Guidance.

Date: Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Time: 3:00 – 4:00 pm EST

Please join us for this informative webinar featuring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ED on preparing to return to school for the 2021-22 school year, including the latest on mitigation strategies, as we continue to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the federal agency updates, practitioner questions will be addressed by the CDC and ED staff to allow field personnel to better understand and ultimately operationalize guidance.

Speakers/Panelists

  • Christian Rhodes, Moderator, Chief of Staff, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Neha Cramer: Lead, Schools Unit, Community Intervention and Critical Populations Task Force at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Jessica McKinney: Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (OPEPD), U.S. Department of Education Related Documents

This event will reference the following resources, which we encourage you to access in advance of the webinar to inform participation:

For your reference, slides for this presentation will be posted on the event webpage on the day of the event.

Registration – You must register to participate in this presentation. Register Here!

Please contact NCSSLE if you have any questions. We look forward to sharing this information with you and hearing from you about the important work you are doing in your schools, communities, and states to meet the needs of your students and staff as they return to in-person learning.

SAVE THE DATE: School Resource Officer Summit Aug 10th & 11th

Save the date for the School Resource Officer (SRO) Summit offered both in-person at Windham High School and virtually online. This opportunity is a collaboration between the Maine Department of Education’s Maine School Safety Center, the Maine Department of Corrections, Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, and Restorative Justice Project Maine.

The summit will be held from 9:00am – 4:30pm on August 10th and 11th (doors open at 8:15am for check-in). Coffee and pastries will be served as well as a lunch for in-person participants. This opportunity is available to Maine school resource officers as well as district and school administrators, staff, and educators.

Key Note Addresses:

August 10th – Restorative Justice Board: A Showcase of Options for Thinking about RJ and Community Impact

August 11th – Lt. Carlos Camacho, Nashua, NH Police Department

Breakout Topics:

  • Racial Disparity & Equality
  • MOUs
  • EOPs
  • Social Emotional Learning
  • Behavioral Threat Assessment
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences 101 &102
  • Effective Police Interactions with Youth /Mirror Mirror Project

Registration link and further information will be forthcoming for both in person and virtual options.

Download the SAVE THE DATE flyer here.

For further questions, contact the Maine School Safety Center.

RSU 40 Teachers Find Connection with Students Through Poetry – a Podcast by 2020 Lincoln County Teacher of the Year

In the spring semester of 2021, RSU 40 English teacher Heather Webster embarked on a project to encourage her students to utilize their creative side. She guided students through completing an “I am” poem following a standard structure- each line begins with a statement about oneself. She chose this creative writing journey for her students because “I am” poems give space for students to be open, honest, and vulnerable with their teacher and classmates, a deep connection that has been missing for many students and teachers throughout the rollercoaster of changes brought on by the pandemic.

One day, walking down the hall shortly after starting the poetry unit, Webster noticed a wall of self-portrait. She went to take a closer look and realized that Brooke Holland, RSU 40 art teacher, had beat her to the “I am” poems with her students (many of which overlapped with Webster’s students). Webster was immediately impressed with the work of the students. “I realized that the poems demonstrated wonderful common threads from our students’ experiences,” Webster stated. More specifically, Webster was awed at the commonality between each students’ pandemic experience, which they shared in their poems.

Reflecting on the start of the COVID19 pandemic, Webster remembers how hard it was to get students to participate and also reflects on how silent students became. She met with her colleague Holland and discussed how impressed they were with their students. After a year and a half of silent students, seeing the students’ creative sides and hearing personal reflections on the pandemic was so enlightening for both teachers. The “I am” poem project gave both teachers insight into their students’ lives over the past year. Both teachers had been feeling distant from their students over the course of the pandemic, but this project allowed them to know their students on a personal level once again. Webster notes that after a year of non-stop discussion of learning loss, “[The students] will be okay. It will be okay.”

Heather Webster was the 2020 Lincoln County Teacher of the Year and a Maine teacher of the Year Finalist. Her podcast on the experience of the “I am” poem can be listened to below.

Non Fiction Final Project

This article was written by Maine DOE Intern Clio Bersani in collaboration with RSU 40 as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov

July 2021 School Safety and Security Professional Development Offerings

To allow as much flexibility as possible for school staff to take a break from the incredibly difficult school year, yet still have the opportunity to continue to learn about school safety and security, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) Maine School Safety Center (MSSC) has assembled a relaxed, go at your own pace, and self-select menu of short professional development sessions (30-45 minutes each)!

The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center (REMS TA) has archived several school safety asynchronous sessions.  Participants can register through REMS, complete any or all sessions listed below in any order, and can then  complete a brief MSSC survey on each completed session.  Once the survey is completed, a one-contact hour certificate will be made available to participants for each session completed.

Following is the link to, description of, and survey for each session:

Developing Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) K-12 101

A high-quality school EOP is adequate, feasible, acceptable, complete, and compliant with state and local requirements. To ensure that EOPs meet these criteria, school planning teams must work collaboratively to determine EOP goals and objectives. That is why the planning process is so important. Although processes should be adapted based on the unique characteristics of the school, school district and situation, teams can use this session to learn about all aspects of plan development, assessment, review, implementation, and maintenance.

Learn more and take the course

Survey and certificate link

School EOPs In-Depth: Developing a Bereavement and Loss Annex

This session has been designed to help you understand the importance of including plans for responding to bereavement and loss in a high-quality school emergency operations plan (EOP) and common manifestations among children related to bereavement and loss. When you are finished with this session, you will be able to assemble the appropriate team for developing the bereavement and loss plan; identify and incorporate responses to bereavement and loss into appropriate annexes; identify and consider the role of developmental factors in early elementary, school-aged children, and adolescents in creating your plan that includes establishment of a crisis response team, as well as appropriate policies and procedures; and conduct stakeholder training related to bereavement and loss.

Learn more and take the course

Survey and certificate link

School EOPs In-Depth: Developing a COOP Annex

This session has been designed to help you learn about the Continuity of Operations (COOP) Functional Annex, or “COOP Annex.” When you are finished with this session, you will be able to define and explain the purpose of the COOP Annex; identify the types of circumstances that lead to COOP Annex activation; develop a COOP Annex as aligned with steps 3 and 4 of the recommended six-step planning process; and understand how to revise and implement COOP planning as aligned with steps 5 and 6 of the recommended six-step planning process.

Learn more and take the course

Survey and certificate link

School EOPs In-Depth: Developing a Food Contamination Annex

This session has been designed to help you learn how to incorporate food safety planning into a school Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). When you’ve completed this session, you will be able to explain the purpose of the Food Contamination Annex; assemble the appropriate team for developing the annex; develop the annex to include procedures for addressing food contamination and food recall; conduct staff training and exercises related to the annex; and use data and techniques (e.g., after action reports) to revise and maintain the annex.

Learn more and take the course

Survey and certificate link

School EOPs In-Depth: Planning for Infectious Diseases

This session has been designed to help you learn how to incorporate infectious disease planning into a school Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). When you are finished with this course, you will be able to define and explain the purpose of the Infectious Disease Annex; identify the types of circumstances that lead to Infectious Disease Annex activation; explain the functions and recommended contents of an Infectious Disease Annex; explain the integration of infectious disease planning with relevant functional annexes; and understand how to revise and implement infectious disease planning, as aligned with steps 5 and 6 of the recommended six-step planning process.

Learn more and take the course

Survey and certificate link

School EOPs In-Depth: Planning for Large Events

This session has been designed to help you define large events and the special vulnerabilities they pose to schools, understand planning considerations unique to large events, update the other annexes in your Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) to account for large events, conduct staff and stakeholder training and exercises related to large events, and use data and techniques (e.g., after action reports) to revise and maintain your EOP.

Learn more and take the course

Survey and certificate link

For further questions, please contact the Maine School Safety Center.

MEDIA RELEASE: School Nutrition Programs to Feed Children Beyond School Year with Summer Food Service Program

AUGUSTA — With the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maine public schools have long offered a nutritious breakfast and lunch meal program to thousands of children in Maine during the school year. During the pandemic, many flexibilities were put into place to ensure children had access to complementary meals while learning remotely from home or attending school in person.

We applaud those who worked tirelessly to provide food to children during a challenging school year. With summer right around the corner, that important service will continue in many areas of Maine. The Summer Food Service Program, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, operates at hundreds of sites across Maine to ensure children get the nutrition they need.

“Maine’s National School Lunch Programs are an invaluable lifeline to our students for whom schools are a much needed and consistent source for food.” said Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “The Summer Food Service Program helps schools continue to provide this critical resource to Maine students through the summer months, and we are committed to assisting schools and communities as they address the needs of the whole child.”

The Summer Food Service Program may be offered statewide in areas or at sites where more than 50 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced meal benefits under the National School Lunch Program or where census track data supports the need. This summer, area eligibility waivers have allowed sites to operate in areas that have need due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Eligible sponsoring organizations include schools, nonprofit residential summer camps, government agencies, and tax-exempt organizations including faith-based organizations.

In July 2020, 112 sponsors participated in the program, serving meals at 730 sites throughout the state. Sponsors operate open sites in all 16 counties in Maine; anyone 18 and under may come to eat at no cost. Many sponsors will be utilizing USDA flexibilities which allow meals to be consumed off site to promote physical distancing and are offering innovative delivery and service models to meet the demand safely.

To find nearby Summer Meal sites, please visit USDA’s Summer Meal Site Finder website at: https://www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids, text “Summer Meals” to 97779 or call Maine 211.

Updated information will be available late-June.

For more information about the Maine DOE’s Summer Food Service Program, contact adriane.ackroyd@maine.gov, call 592-1722 or visit https://www.maine.gov/doe/schools/nutrition/programs/sfsp.

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In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
(2)      fax: (202) 690-7442; or
(3)      email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

The Maine Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, religion, ancestry or national origin.

Complaints of discrimination must be filed at the office of the Maine Human Rights Commission, 51 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0051. If you wish to file a discrimination complaint electronically, visit the Human Rights Commission website at https://www.maine.gov/mhrc/file/instructions and complete an intake questionnaire. Maine is an equal opportunity provider and employer.