Maine DOE Provides Complimentary 2020-2021 Law Books to Superintendents

The Maine Department of Education has acquired enough copies of the Maine Education and School Statutes 2020-2021 Edition law book from the publisher, Swan Island Press, to distribute one, at no charge, to each superintendent of schools in Maine.

The law books are in the mail and should be received soon. To purchase additional copies of this law book directly from Swan Island Press, please contact Aaron Chase of Swan Island Press at swanislandpress@gmail.com.

 

PRIORITY NOTICE:  Unified Guidance Regarding Executive Orders and School Personnel:  All School Services and Employees are Essential

As our state and nation face unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, it is more critical than ever that Maine schools and school employees work together to provide the deeply needed services of continuity of education, communications, connectivity, payroll, other administrative activities, custodial services, transportation/deliveries,  and student nutrition. The Governor has directed SAUs to pay hourly employees for their previously contracted hours throughout the remainder of this school year, and this decision was predicated on the understanding that all school employees would continue to have important roles in limited, alternative, ongoing operations. The Department of Education has also stated that all school employees are essential.  The Priority Notice from the Dept of Education on 3/27/20 says: “All school employees are considered to be ‘essential’ under the Governor’s Executive Order #19 and should be expected to complete all duties and tasks assigned to them.”

On March 31st, Governor Mills instituted Executive Order 28 further restricting public contact and movement, schools, vehicle travel and retail business operations.  In addition, cities and towns are also putting new provisions in place, which restrict operations of non-essential businesses, new questions have arisen about the definition and what it means for public-school employees to be essential.

Although school employees are essential, their physical presence at school is not always necessary during this emergency, as there are many tasks and trainings that could be completed remotely.  In light of the Governor’s “Stay Healthy At Home” order at this critical juncture to flatten the curve, physical presence in schools should be restricted to a bare minimum in order to provide essential functions – such as providing educational and nutritional services to students, payroll, certain cleaning and maintenance staff, certain administrative assistant staff where communications cannot occur remotely, IT staff to support remote learning functions, transportation staff  – and only as long as social distancing and other CDC recommendations (including hand washing protocols) are being implemented. The fewest numbers of employees possible should be on premises, and only during the necessary time frame required for conducting such services. All functions that do not require in-person staff in schools should be done remotely.

It is possible that some hourly staff members will not have enough immediately purposeful work to do (either on site or remotely) to fill the contracted hours for which they are paid. In that case, these employees should be considered to be “on standby”, ready to assist as work does become available for them. Administrators and supervisors should determine when/if certain positions are needed to perform tasks.  While on standby, employees will continue to receive hourly wages as contracted prior to the COVID emergency.

Given the Governor’s most recent Executive Order, the Department of Education (DOE), Maine School Board Association/Maine School Superintendents Association (MSBA/MSSA), Maine Principals Association (MPA), Maine Education Association (MEA), Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (MADSEC) and Maine Curriculum Leaders Association (MCLA), would like to clarify the roles and responsibilities of public-school employees during this time.

  • Employees who are able and assigned by supervisors to work remotely should continue to do so, and raise any concerns they may have with their local district leadership.  Administrators and staff are encouraged to collaborate and problem-solve to foster telework options during this crisis.

  •  School employees should continue to go to work if they  must be there to perform essential functions. CDC guidelines should be strictly followed including social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people.  School employees working onsite should be kept to the bare minimum necessary to execute the functions that require their physical presence.

  • Employees  whose services are not immediately needed, as determined by supervisors, or whose work cannot be done remotely, should continue to receive their regular wages and should remain ready to perform tasks as they become necessary and assigned by supervisors.    Employees on standby leave should be ready to help schools meet their basic needs, and may be assigned to participate in a rotation of duties during this time.

  • Any  school employees who are sick, in a high risk group, or feel unsafe for any reason, should have access to their own sick leave, the new federal leave program, a district sick leave bank, if applicable, or any other paid leave that a district may be providing.

We can all take common sense steps to ensure that only staff whose physical presence is required  to provide services and who are engaged in immediately necessary services are in our schools, and that those who are in our schools are being protected by following the most current CDC guidelines for social distancing, cleaning, hand washing, and ventilation.

We so appreciate all the work being done to help students during these challenging times.  We know our public schools are wonderful places filled with amazing, hard-working and dedicated staff.  Please be sure to take care of each other during this crisis.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Increases Flexibility to School Meal Programs Feeding Children in Need

Maine –With the approval of yet another waiver to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and additional bulk packaging options, the Maine Department of Education has been able to add significant flexibility to its school food service programs, enabling schools to provide meals to students all over Maine, increasing the potential to reach even more hungry children in a more meaningful way.

The first waiver obtained by the Maine DOE expanded the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) allowing school districts and community partners to provide meals to students during extended remote learning due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Today Maine DOE received approval for a waiver to the requirement that National School Lunch Program participants must have a population of at least 50% who receive free or reduced- meals.  Maine DOE requested flexibility to locate meal distribution sites in areas that do not meet the 50% criteria to ensure that any child can receive the meals they normally would on a regular school day during unanticipated school closures related to COVID-19. To maintain children’s access to meals, and to support families experiencing financial hardship, Maine DOE requested to waive the area eligibility requirements under 7 CFR 225.6(c)(2)(i)(G). This was approved by the federal Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).

The Maine DOE has also been granted flexibility to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Summer Food Service Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, allowing schools and community partners to prepare meals in bulk – multiple meals for several days in one package for children up to the age of 18.

Advanced planning of bulk meals is required to ensure that the meal pattern is met, and food will be stored and prepared in a safe manner. Bulk provisions would be provided for in home meal preparation.

Schools and community partners can now request approval from the Maine Child Nutrition team at the Maine Department of Education. For more information or to submit a request for an approval. Child.nutrition@maine.gov

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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.

 

 

PRIORITY NOTICE: Proposed Rulemaking for Rule Chapter 112

Chapter 112 contains procedures guiding the operations of the Professional Standards Board in its role under Title 20-A, Chapter 502-B to make recommendations to the State Board of Education and advise the Department of Education on certification issues. The rule was filed with the Secretary of State’s Office on March 13, 2020.

The rulemaking notice will be posted in the Secretary of State Newspaper ad on March 25, 2020. The comment period ends April 24, 2020 at 5:00 PM.

Find the details for proposed Rule 112 on the Maine DOE  Proposed Rule & Rule Changes webpage  (proposed rules are listed in order by rule number).

Comments can be emailed to Jaci Holmes at jaci.holmes@maine.gov or by mail to 23 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333.

Maine to Join National #LoveTeaching Campaign February 14 – 21

The Maine Department of Education (DOE), along with the Maine Teacher of the Year (TOY) Program, and Maine State Teacher of the Year Association (MSTOYA), are joining the national #LoveTeaching campaign, a grassroots effort started by teachers in 2015 as an opportunity to celebrate teaching, leading, and learning in a way that unites and invigorates educators and those they inspire all around the world.

Every year, Valentine’s Day marks the beginning of a week-long conversation that aims to illuminate why teachers enter and remain in the field of education, offering a mindset shift from the seemingly singular focus on the challenges of the profession.

Starting on Friday, February 14 and continuing through February 21, 2020 educators across Maine are encouraged to participate by using the #LoveTeaching hashtag on social media to share why they love teaching, either through a story, a moment, a memory, a picture, a quote, or simply explaining why they love teaching in a sentence or phrase. Tag the Maine DOE at @mdoenews on Twitter and at @MaineDepartmentofEducation1 on Facebook so that we can share your teaching inspiration around our state!

As we transition from January into February, we would also like to support MSTOYA in their efforts to keep the momentum of January’s “Invite your Legislator to School” month going, by encouraging teachers who have not done so already, to invite their local legislator to their school.

The goal of “Invite Your Legislator to School Month” is to engage, enlighten, and inform policy makers from our local or state government by providing them with a better understanding of how their decisions affect learners and educators across the state of Maine. It is also a great opportunity to invigorate and inspire them by showing them the wonderful things that are happening in classrooms in Maine.

We know that everyone’s schedules are busy, so please consider scheduling a visit sometime in the near future, or anytime throughout the year that works best for your school and your guest(s). In the words of MSTOYA, “It’s more than a month; it’s a movement.”

Please visit the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association Website to get further guidance and resources that can support you in inviting and scheduling a visit with your local and state legislators.

For further information about the #LoveTeaching campaign, please visit weloveteaching.org and be on the lookout for another announcement from the Maine DOE to kick off the week.