Changes in Joint Rule Chapters 126/261: Immunization Requirements for School Children

This notice is to inform you of the recent changes to the joint rule (Chapter 126/261), Immunization Requirements for School Children, (statutory authority, Title 20-A §6352). The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education have revised the Maine School Immunization Requirements rule to now include meningococcal meningitis disease. These changes further align Maine’s immunization rules with current national recommendations to better protect the health of all Maine people. Meningococcal disease is a rare, but dangerous disease that strikes healthy young people without warning. It can affect all ages, but teens and young adults are at highest risk of getting the disease.

The following changes are effective for the 2018-2019 school year for all students attending a public or private school in the State of Maine:

  • One dose of meningococcal vaccine MCV4 (serogroups A, C, W, and Y) is required for all students entering 7th grade.
  • Two doses of meningococcal vaccine MCV4 are required for students entering 12th grade, with a minimum interval of 8 weeks between dose one and dose two. If the first dose of meningococcal vaccine was administered on or after the 16th birthday, a second dose is not required.

For your convenience, the Department has prepared a sample notification letter that your school may use to inform parents/guardians of the above changes to the immunization rule.

Additionally, the DHHS  has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions attached with more information. As a reminder, no student is permitted to be enrolled in or attend a public or private school in Maine without providing either a certificate of immunization or a written medical, religious or philosophical exemption for each required school entry vaccine.

Please ensure all 7th and 12th grade student records are updated by the first day of the 2018-2019 school year for this new meningococcal meningitis requirement. If you have questions regarding this new meningococcal meningitis vaccine requirement, record keeping or immunization history reviews please contact Emily Poland, School Nurse Consultant at (207) 624-6688 or by email at Emily.Poland@maine.gov.

If you have immunization specific questions regarding vaccine schedules or validity of any doses given to a student, please contact the Maine Immunization Program at (207) 287-3746 or (800) 867-4775 or by email at ImmunizeME.DHHS@maine.gov.

Changes in Rule Chapter 45: Vision and Hearing Screening in Maine Schools

This notice is to inform you of the recent changes to Chapter 45: Rule for Vision and Hearing Screening in Maine Schools. This rule outlines the standards and processes for periodic vision and hearing screenings. The purpose of a screening is to identify potential hearing or vision deficits among school age children and refer for further care. Updates to this rule reflect current national recommendations for hearing and vision screenings. The rule also clarifies techniques and acceptable research-based tools for schools to use.

This new requirement is in effect for the start of the school year 2018-19. Chapter 45 includes definitions, school nurse responsibility, general guidelines, vision screening schedule including distance and near acuity, alternative screening methods, and referral guidelines, hearing screening schedule and referral guidelines.  The complete rule can be reviewed at http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/05/chaps05.htm.

In brief, vision screening is required for preschool, kindergarten, and grades 1, 3, 5, 7, 9; hearing screening is required for preschool, kindergarten, and grades 1, 3, 5. The rule acknowledges that some children, because of their medical histories, have a higher rate of vision problems and may bypass routine screening at school to be directly referred to an eye specialist. The school nurse may determine which children should be referred directly.

The rule also clarifies which research-based tools are acceptable for screening. Particularly, using evidence-based instruments to screen for amblyopia risk factors and reduced vision risk factors may be used for certain school children in place of tests of visual acuity.

If you have questions about hearing and vision screening, please contact the Maine Department of Education School Nurse Consultant, Emily Poland at 624-6688 or emily.poland@maine.gov .

PRIORITY NOTICE: Maine DOE announces alternative rural and low-income federal allocation formula; more districts now eligible for funds

The Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE) received notification that its proposed Title V, Part B, Sub Part 2 allocation formula, submitted to the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) in November 2017, has been approved. The approved alternative formula provides increases funding through the Title V Rural Low-Income Schools (RLIS) grant to districts that have higher poverty rates.

Contained in their April 5, 2018 approval email the U.S. DOE indicated the following:

“We appreciate your patience as we carefully considered whether Maine’s proposed alternative RLIS funding formula meets the standard under ESEA section 5221(b)(3)(C) that an alternative formula better target RLIS funds to LEAs serving the highest concentrations of children from families below the poverty line.  We have determined that your proposed formula meets this standard given that, in general, LEAs with the highest percentages of low-income children will receive higher awards than they would under the current ADA-based formula under ESEA section 5221(b)(3)(B).”

The new RLIS formula divides the Title V, Part B, Sub part 2 state allocation between poverty (70%) and Average Daily Attendance ADA (30%). Under the alternative distribution, there are some districts that will receive less funding under Title V, however, overall more districts and students will be served. The alternative formula provides a more equitable distribution of the funds across the State, including:

  • 71 Districts (up from 55) will receive funding from the RLIS grant
  • 67,608 students (up from 64,740) will be served by RLIS grant funds

The Title V RLIS grant will be included in the ESEA Consolidated Application with Title IA, II, III, and IVA for FY19.

Further questions regarding the formula or to better understand the calculation process contact Maine DOE Title V Coordinator, Daniel Weeks, at 207-624-6749 or daniel.r.weeks@maine.gov.

Department provides further guidance on repeal of Chapter 82 (School Bus Driver Fitness Determination)

In response to inquiries from the field, the Maine Department of Education is providing answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the repeal of Code of Maine Regulations (05-071 CMR Chap. 82) School Bus Driver Fitness Determination.

Further questions and inquiries can be send to Pat Hinkley, Maine DOE Transportation and Facilities Administrator at pat.hinckley@maine.gov.

 

Maine DOE to host Farm to School Cook-off on April 5th and 9th

What:  The Maine Department of Education will host its Annual Maine Farm to School Cook-Off, a voluntary, skills-based competition offered to school food service staff from all school districts across the State of Maine. The goal of the program is to recognize school nutrition staff for their skills and creativity while producing high-quality meals that can be replicated in a school kitchen.

During the competition, each volunteer team prepares a breakfast and lunch meal within a specific time frame using at least two ingredients that are grown, raised, caught, or manufactured in the State of Maine and meet National School Breakfast and Lunch Program requirements as well as one USDA food. Locally caught pollock and yogurt will be used as challenge ingredients in the competition this year.

Who: Teams consist of local school food service staff and students, judges for the regional cook-offs include a student, a school nutrition director and a professional chef, and representatives from Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition team will also be present.

When/ where: The regional cook-offs will be held on three dates. Two cook-offs in different locations in the State and then a final cook-off event where the winners of the first two cook-offs will compete.

Thursday, April 5 from 10:00am – 1:30pm
Bath Regional Career and Technical Center, Bath, ME
10:00am start time (cooking begins promptly at 10:30am)
Teams are representing Falmouth, Yarmouth and Lewiston

Monday, April 9 from 1:00pm – 4:30pm
Hampden Academy, Hampden, ME
1:00pm start time (cooking begins promptly at 1:30pm)
Teams are representing RSU 54, RSU 3 and Cherryfield

The Date and location for the final Farm to School Cook-off will be determined after the are to be determined.

Please RSVP: For more information including a detailed agenda, and to RSVP, media should contact the Maine Department of Education Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov or call 624-6747.

Due to space limitations, these competitions are not open to the public; however, arrangements can be made by contacting Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition Consultant Stephanie Stambach at stephanie.stambach@maine.gov.