Maine DOE Launches Culinary Classroom to Support School Meal Programs; EUT to Share Office Space

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) recently held an open house to showcase a new culinary classroom based in its Augusta offices. Located just across the river from the Capitol complex, the new space also houses offices for the Child Nutrition Team and the Education in Unorganized Territories (EUT) team as well.

The new kitchen is supplied with industrial stoves, appliances, sinks, counter space, ventilation, and tools that will allow the child nutrition team to host professional learning opportunities for school nutrition staff that are working in schools throughout the state. Pending the final touches on some cameras and tv monitors, the DOE will be planning some upcoming webinars, with tips and information about how to utilize and cook with USDA approved foods in school kitchens, including cooking from scratch, with vegan options, and keeping up with trends in the food service industry, among other topics.

Just down the hall from the kitchen there is ample office space for the staff who work on the Child Nutrition teams including two chefs and several other nutrition specialists. Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition team is a federally funded function of the Department that works to support federal programs that help fight hunger and obesity, by reimbursing organizations such as schools, child care centers, and after-school programs for providing healthy meals to children. They also help run the Summer Food Service Program and oversee several United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services programs and initiatives that provide healthy food to children.

Child Nutrition Chefs, April Taylor and Michele Bisbee.
Child Nutrition Chefs, April Taylor and Michele Bisbee.

While the Child Nutrition Team is working hard to ensure Maine kids have healthy meals, their neighbors, the EUT team, are next door providing State-run administrative services for Maine schools that enroll students from unorganized territories throughout the State, ensuring students who do not have a school near their home have access to elementary and secondary education. The EUT places and supports 900 students from unorganized territories all over the state with tuition, special education services, transportation, and advocacy. They also help run EUT schools, Connor Consolidated School in Connor Township; Edmunds Consolidated School in Edmunds Township; and Kingman Elementary School in Kingman. Maine has 421 (and growing) unorganized territories with students from north to south, inland and islands, mountain areas in the west, and farms areas in the northeast.

In addition to the day-to-day flow of files that pass through the EUT offices during regular business, they also house some unique historical documents with a rich history dating back before the 1920s. Some of which are now on display for visitors to see in their new space, including black and white pictures, hand-drawn floor plans from old school houses, and even some old tuition bills.

The open house drew colleagues and news stations alike and ended with an announcement that the new kitchen space will be dedicated to Child Nutrition Director Walter Beesley who was instrumental in launching the culinary classroom in hopes of providing more hands-on, advanced support to Maine school kitchen staff.

For more information about Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition Team, please visit their website or contact their offices, and for more information about Education in Unorganized Territories, please visit this webpage for contact information.

HEALTH UPDATE: Mosquito-Borne Illnesses and Schools

TO:        Superintendents, Heads of Private Schools, School Nurses, Principals, Athletic Directors and Coaches
FROM:  Maine Department of Education and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
RE:        Mosquito-Borne Illnesses and Schools
DATE:   September 2019

Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE), in collaboration with Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), is sharing this important guidance, developed by Maine CDC, with schools regarding mosquito-borne illnesses.

Three mosquito-borne illnesses are a local risk in Maine: Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Jamestown Canyon virus (JCV), and West Nile virus (WNV).  These are potentially serious viral infections, spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.  These diseases are especially severe in children (as well as adults over 50).  About one in every three people with EEE die, and many of those who recover have lasting health problems. It is important to practice prevention, since there is no vaccine or treatment for humans.

Maine saw the first human case of WNV in 2012, the first human case of EEE in 2014, and the first human case of JCV in 2017. Maine had two human cases of WNV and one human case of JCV in 2018. Maine also had one case of WNV in a horse and four WNV positive mosquito pools in 2018. Mosquito testing in Maine does not include JCV, and laboratory testing for JCV in humans is done out of state.

Maine identified an EEE positive horse in York County on August 30, 2019. To date in 2019, Maine has not identified any positive human or mosquito pools. Other northeastern states are reporting a very active season for EEE. Massachusetts is reporting one human death and four animal deaths from EEE. Hundreds of mosquito pools in Massachusetts have come back positive for EEE. New Hampshire also reports EEE positive mosquito pools and an EEE positive horse. Massachusetts also reports WNV positive mosquito pools.

The risk for getting a mosquito-borne disease is highest from dusk to dawn and when temperatures are above 50 degrees (and especially above 60 degrees), since these are the conditions when mosquitoes are most actively biting.

Schools play an important role in preventing mosquito-borne illnesses.  Maine CDC and its partners recommend:

  • Cover up outdoors. Children and others on outdoor field trips and participating in outdoor activities for a significant amount of time, when the temperature is above 50 degrees, should cover up with long sleeve shirts, long pants, and long socks.
  • Use repellent.   Use an EPA approved repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus on skin. The repellent permethrin can be used on clothing and can be remain effective through several washes. Always follow the package directions.  See here for details on recommended repellents.  Schools that schedule practices or games at dusk or evening with temperatures above 50 degrees should encourage the use of repellent for all participants, including coaches and observers.  Please note:  School employees and volunteers must have authorization from parents/guardians before applying repellents to minor children (CMR 01-026, Chapter 10, Section 2.I.4.iii).
  • Implement Integrated Pest Management strategies. Since we anticipate the risk from mosquito-borne illnesses to continue, schools should consult with their IPM Coordinator to review their IPM policy.  Review information on Maine’s School IPM Program. 
  • Monitor Maine CDC’s arboviral website for the most up to date information on confirmed detection in the state. If mosquito-borne disease activity increases in your area, the following strategies should be implemented:
    1. Strongly encourage the use of EPA approved repellents.
    2. Talk with your school IPM coordinator and implement a plan to reduce the number of mosquitoes and mosquito breeding sites on school grounds.
    3. Limit and/or reschedule evening outdoor activities. Unless the dusk temperature is forecast to be less than 50 degrees, limit or reschedule outdoor evening activities such as school athletic events so people are able to go indoors by one hour before sunset.

All these recommendations are especially true in those areas with previously-identified mosquito-borne illnesses.  However, the lack of identified virus in an area of the state does not mean there is no risk.

Resources to learn more about mosquito-borne illness and mosquito control:

Maine DOE and Maine CDC continue to work very closely together and are greatly appreciative of your assistance in keeping Maine’s children and school communities healthy.

MAINE HARVEST OF THE MONTH

ABOUT

The Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition Program is excited to announce the official launch of Maine’s Harvest of the Month (HOM) Program. The program was piloted in schools in Spring 2019, with participation from over 165 schools state-wide. The full roll out of the program begins this fall for School Year 2020.

PROGRAM BACKGROUND

Harvest of the Month (HOM) is a nationwide marketing campaign, promoting the use of seasonally available, local products in schools, institutions, and communities. Each month a different local product is highlighted, and participating entities pledge to serve the product and promote it through educational materials and activities. The program launched in California, and has been replicated by dozens of other states across the country. With Maine’s participation, all New England states now have Harvest of the Month programs.

MAINE HARVEST OF THE MONTH

Participating School Food Service Directors are asked to take a pledge to serve the monthly HOM product at least two times per month in their cafeterias. In addition to this, they pledge to display HOM promotional materials, such as posters, fun facts, and stickers for students who have tried the HOM product. Featured recipes are also provided each month. In taking the pledge, schools agree to participate in evaluations so that local food procurement can be tracked and to analyze the success of the program. Local products may be sourced directly from farms, farmer cooperatives, and distributors. When buying produce directly from a farm or farmer cooperative, School Food Service Directors may take advantage of the Local Produce Fund, which reimburses $1 for every $3 spent on local produce (up to $1,000 per district for SY 2020).

To sign up for the Harvest of the Month Program, please sign the pledge at https://forms.gle/M3av147TXBHBjGPh9. Interested school districts have until October 1, 2019 to sign up.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Stephanie Stambach, Child Nutrition Consultant at Stephanie.stambach@maine.gov or 207-624-6732, or visit www.maine.gov/doe/harvestofthemonth/

Mandatory Annual Notice of Integrated Pest Management Requirements

Encounters with rodents, hornets, bats, poisonous plants and other pests can threaten the health and safety of students, staff and visitors on school properties. However, pesticides can also pose a risk, and the use of these chemicals in Maine is strictly regulated.  All public and private schools serving any grades pre-k through 12 are required, under state law, to adopt and implement an integrated pest management (IPM) policy to reduce potential risks of exposure to pests and pesticides.

Specific requirements include:

Appointment of IPM Coordinator.  Appoint a staff member to serve as and annually report their name and contact information (e-mail address and phone number) by September 1st via the Department of Education NEO system. If unable to use NEO, report via email to pesticides@maine.gov or by calling 207-287-2731. This information is required to provide necessary educational information and training and ensure compliance with regulations.

Training. The IPM Coordinator must complete two trainings: 1) Initial Training Module must be completed within one month of appointment (available online at www.maine.gov/schoolipm  click on ‘Trainings and Events’) and 2) Comprehensive IPM Training Training must be completed within one year of appointment (free workshop offered in numerous locations throughout the year. See schedule at www.maine.gov/schoolipm). In addition, the IPM Coordinator must earn 1-hr of Continuing Education credit per year.

Notification, Signage and Authorization. A notice describing your school’s IPM program must be included in the school policy manual or student and staff handbooks.  Specific information is required.  A sample notice is available at www.maine.gov/schoolipm.  This information must be kept up to date, but an annual notice to parents and staff is no longer required. A notice about the schools’ IPM Policy must be published in your policy manuals, such as the student and staff handbooks. Before any pesticide application on school properties (including non-school properties used primarily for official school functions) the IPM Coordinator must authorize it. Parents and staff must be notified five days in advance and signs must be posted two days in advance. Some types of applications are exempted. More information and sample notices are available at maine.gov/schoolipm or by contacting the Maine Board of Pesticides Control at pesticides@maine.gov or 207-287-2731.

Licensing. A commercial Pesticide Applicators License is required for all pesticide applications except for the control of stinging insects and for routine use of disinfectants.

Record-Keeping.  A Pest Management Activity Log must be kept current and on file for at least two years. Specific records about IPM steps taken and pesticide use must be kept.  Sample logbook pages are available at maine.gov/schoolipm.

The School IPM Program, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, is available to help with pest problem-solving advice, training resources and more (www.maine.gov/schoolipm, e-mail: kathy.murray@maine.gov, phone: 207-287-7616).  For more information contact the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (pesticides@maine.gov or 207-287-2731) or Pat Hinckley at the Department of Education (pat.hinckley@maine.gov, 207-624-6886).

 

Hampden Academy Recognized for their Dedication to Creating a Climate of Inclusion

Submitted by Cindy Carlisle, Student Data Specialist for Regional School Unit  22.

Hampden Academy in RSU 22 was named on ESPN Honor Roll for 2019 — a list of top 34 schools from across the country — as part of its Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools National Recognition Program.

A “Unified Champion School” is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence developed by a panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.

The aim of Unified Champion Schools is to incorporate Special Olympics sports, leadership and related activities that empower the youth to be the agents of change in their communities. shifting the focus from the events to that of a whole school movement for inclusion. Special education and general education students — along with educators and administrators — are encouraged to work together to create supportive classrooms, schoolwide activities and opportunities for growth and success for all.

See the full list here