MEDIA RELEASE: Mills Administration Updates COVID-19 School Health Advisory System

Oxford and York counties categorized as yellow, Androscoggin closely monitored

AUGUSTA — The Mills Administration today released its updated color-coded Health Advisory System that classifies counties’ relative risk of COVID-19 transmission by color and is provided to assist schools as they continue with their plans to deliver instruction and support students safely this fall.

The Health Advisory System is a collaboration among the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Maine Department of Education (DOE)This week’s designations include the following:

  • Oxford County is recategorized from green to yellow as a result of rapid and significant increases in COVID-19 prevalence. The rate of new cases per 10,000 residents over the last two weeks jumped from 4.66 cases to 10.69 cases, exceeding the rate of new cases in York County. Its two-week positivity rate increased from 1.6 to 2.1 percent.
  • York County remains yellow and is still an area of concern. Its rate of new cases per 10,000 residents over the last two weeks increased from 7.66 to 9.44. Its positivity rate remains at 2 percent and Maine CDC has opened 8 outbreak investigations in the last two weeks. Most of the outbreak activity remains concentrated in the Sanford and Springvale area, but a number of new cases in York County are not readily traced to known outbreaks, suggesting increasing community transmission.
  • Androscoggin County remains green but will be closely monitored. Its rate of new cases per 10,000 residents over the last two weeks increased from 3.79 to 6.37. The positivity rate increased slightly from 0.6 to 0.7 percent.

Androscoggin County, now noted with an asterisk in the advisory system, as well as counties designated as yellow, are being monitored closely and will be reassessed weekly. These changes are made out of an abundance of caution and for the consideration of school administrative units in their decisions to deliver instruction.

Under the “yellow” designation, which indicates an increased (moderate) level of community risk, schools may consider additional precautions, such as limiting numbers of people in school buildings at the same time, suspending all extracurricular or co-curricular activities including competitions between schools, limiting interaction through cohorting, or other measures based on the unique needs of each school community.

Maine’s other 13 counties remain green and will be reassessed every two weeks.

It is essential that school districts across the State of Maine continue to implement plans that adhere to the six requirements for returning to in-person instruction, regardless of their county’s red, yellow, or green designation:

  1. Symptom Screening at Home Before Coming to School (for all Staff and Students) – Students (parents/caregivers) and staff members must conduct self-checks for symptoms prior to boarding buses or entering school buildings each day.  Schools should provide information to families in their primary language to support them in conducting this check.   Any person showing symptoms must report their symptoms and not be present at school.  Schools must provide clear and accessible directions to parents/caregivers and students for reporting symptoms and absences.
  2. Physical Distancing and Facilities– Adults must maintain 6 feet of distance from others to the extent possible. Maintaining 3 feet of distance is acceptable between and among students when combined with the other measures outlined in this list of safety requirements.  6 feet of physical distancing is required for students while eating breakfast and lunch, as students will be unable to wear masks at that time.   A “medical isolation space” (separate from the nurse’s office) must be designated for students/staff who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms during the school day. Adequate ventilation is required for classrooms, with schools having flexibility in implementation such as using properly working ventilation systems or outdoor air exchange using fans in open windows or doors. Groups in any one area, room, or classroom must not exceed the Governor’s gathering size limits.
  3. Masks/Face Coverings– Adults, including educators and staff, are required to wear a mask/face covering. Students age five and above are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth.  Masks are recommended for children ages two to four, when developmentally appropriate. Masks/face coverings must be worn by all students on the bus. Face shields may be an alternative for those students with documented medical or behavioral challenges who are unable to wear masks/face coverings. (Updated 8/12/20). The same applies to staff with medical or other health reasons for being unable to wear face coverings. Face shields worn in place of a face covering must extend below the chin and back to the ears. An exception for wearing a mask or face shield applies only to an individual participating in voluntary school sports during vigorous physical exercise. (Updated 09/09/20). Nothing in this framework’s mask/face covering requirements should be interpreted as preventing a school from making accommodations on an individualized basis as required by state or federal disabilities laws.(Updated 9/15/20)
  4. Hand Hygiene– All students and staff in a school must receive training in proper hand hygiene. All students and staff must wash hands or use sanitizing gel upon entering the school, before and after eating, before and after donning or removing a face mask, after using the restroom, before and after use of playgrounds and shared equipment, and before and after riding school transportation.
  5. Personal Protective Equipment– Additional safety precautions are required for school nurses and/or any staff supporting students in close proximity, when distance is not possible, or when student require physical assistance. These precautions must at a minimum include eye protection (e.g., face shield or goggles) and a mask/face covering. Classrooms and/or areas that have been used by an individual diagnosed with Covid-19 must be closed off until thorough cleaning and sanitization takes place.
  6. Return to School after Illness– Sick staff members and students must use home isolation until they meet criteria for returning to school.

The Health Advisory System categorizations are defined as follows:

  • RED: Categorization as “red” suggests that the county has a high risk of COVID-19 spread and that in-person instruction is not advisable.
  • YELLOW: Categorization as “yellow” suggests that that the county has an elevated risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider additional precautions and/or hybrid instructional models as a way to reduce the number of people in schools and classrooms at any one time.
  • GREEN: Categorization as “green” suggests that the county has a relatively low risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider in-person instruction, as long as they are able to implement the required health and safety measures.  Schools in a “green” county may need to use hybrid instruction models if there is insufficient capacity or other factors (facilities, staffing, geography/transportation, etc.) that may prevent full implementation of the health and safety requirements.

The county-level assessments are based on both quantitative and qualitative data, including but not limited to recent case rates, positivity rates, and syndromic data (e.g., symptoms of influenza or COVID-19). Those data are publicly posted every week on the Maine CDC website. DHHS and Maine CDC also consider qualitative factors, such as the presence of outbreaks that may potentially affect school-age children.

The Health Advisory System reflects ongoing analysis of evolving data, and serves as one piece of information that school and district leaders can use to make decisions about how to deliver education this fall. The qualitative and quantitative considerations and data used by the CDC in determining community transmission risk levels for schools can be located here: How County Risk Levels for Maine Schools are Determined

The Health Advisory System can be found on the Maine DOE website in Part I of the Framework for Reopening Schools and Returning to In-Person Classroom Instructionhttps://www.maine.gov/doe/framework/part-I.

The next update is scheduled for Friday, October 2, 2020.

Application Deadline Extended for Maine’s Leadership Development Program  

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce the opportunity for Maine leaders to participate in the 2020-2021 Maine Leadership Development Program (LDP) cohort!  The Maine LDP is an initiative designed to build and strengthen instructional leadership skills among Maine’s educational leaders at the school, district, and state levels. In our ongoing efforts to support and foster the educational expertise in Maine, educators who aspire to do the same are invited to take advantage of this high impact opportunity!

The Department will re-open the application process for a limited time.  Applications will be due by September 28, 2020 in order to ensure that selected participants are prepared to participate in Unit 1 on October 19 and October 20. A link to access more information and application materials can be found below.

During the 2019-2020 school year, the Maine DOE partnered with the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) to prepare the first cohort of candidates to become certified trainers and facilitators of future cohorts.  The 2020-2021 cohort will be led by Maine leaders committed to excellence in education.

Maine’s LDP is delivered through a blended learning model including case studies, inquiry, and hands-on activities with practical applications that meet the rigorous expectations for today’s educational leaders.  Successful completion of the LDP may contribute to credit hours for participants pursuing an advanced degree or contact hours for re-certification purposes.

Benefits for Maine Schools

  • Prepares educational leaders to lead for excellence and equity
  • Increases student achievement, and fosters a culture of high expectations
  • Enhances teacher recruitment, retention, and quality

Program Curriculum

  • Nationally researched, evidenced-based, and locally delivered in a cohort model
  • Improves the practice of leadership, transforms instruction and student achievement in schools
  • Consists of 12 two-day units, delivered in 12 months
  • Bridged with online coursework, readings, and job-embedded application of key concepts through action learning

Characteristics of Ideal Candidates

  • A belief in and commitment to improving instruction and increasing achievement for all students
  • Experience in a leadership role at the school, district, and/or state level with background as a classroom teacher. Ideal candidates include, but are not limited to, teachers, principals, assistant principals, instructional coaches, deans, Title I directors, department leaders, ESEA coordinators, special education directors, English Learner directors, assistant superintendents, instruction and curriculum directors, CTE instructors, CTE directors, and superintendents. Priority will be given to educational leaders from schools identified to receive Tier III support throughout Maine.
  • Excellent communications skills; able to effectively facilitate professional development for peers
  • Demonstrated skills in mentoring and coaching
  • Experience as a successful practitioner who is able to translate concepts to actions, theory to practice, and programs to craft
  • Able to participate in the entire Maine LDP Program and deeply engage in action learning
  • Likely to live and work in Maine for the next five years

Please visit http://www.maine.gov/doe/educators/maineldp to hear from participants and for more information.

To view the program schedule and download the application visit:  https://www.maine.gov/doe/educators/maineldp/application.

The Department encourages educational leaders to consider applying for this exciting opportunity!

For more information please email emily.doughty@maine.gov.

Foster Center for Student Innovation to Host Virtual Film Screening and Conversation About Women in Entrepreneurship

To shine a light on women in entrepreneurship, the University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation will be hosting a virtual screening of “SHE STARTED IT” on October 1st at 4PM for high school aged students state-wide.

SHE STARTED IT gives a new face to the popular image of the tech entrepreneur: a female face. Following five young women over two years as they pitch VCs, build teams, bring products to market, fail and start again, SHE STARTED IT takes viewers on a global roller coaster ride from San Francisco to Mississippi, France and Vietnam. Along the way, it weaves in big-picture perspectives from women like investor Joanne Wilson; White House CTO Megan Smith; Danae Ringelmann, Co-Founder of Indiegogo; Fran Maier, Co-founder, Match.com; and Ruchi Sanghvi, the first female engineer at Facebook.

During our virtual screening, students will not only get to watch this powerful film, but Nora Poggi, one of the directors, and two other female entrepreneurs will be discussing the film and the important topic of women in entrepreneurship with the audience during a Q&A discussion.

Thursday, Oct. 1st
4:00PM-5:30PM
Streamed via Zoom (or other similar platform)

Register for this event here.

For further questions

Applications Open for Yale Young Global Scholars Summer Program

The  Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) application is now open. Students in grades 10 or 11 (or international equivalent) from all around the world are encouraged to apply!

YYGS invites eligible students to join them this coming July to experience life as a university student at Yale while attending an academic session of their choosing.

Here’s what students and families need to know:

  • Meet peers from over 130 countries around the world (including all 50 U.S. states), and join discussions where students offer global perspectives.
  • YYGS provides over $3 million USD in need-based financial aid equally to both domestic and international students, offered as discounts covering up to 100% of tuition costs.
  • Apply by their Early Action deadline and hear your decision back by late December. If the fee poses a financial burden, submit a fee waiver to make your application fee $0 USD.

YYGS is excited to host on-campus sessions, however, they will notify students by March 5, 2021, if that is not possible. More details are listed on their COVID-19 update page.

Early Action Deadline: November 10, 2020 at 11:59pm ET
Regular Decision Deadline: January 12, 2021 at 11:59pm ET

Apply Today: https://globalscholars.yale.edu/how-to-apply
Webinar Series: https://globalscholars.yale.edu/how-apply/info-sessions*

*Register to attend the webinar series either live and/or to view recordings on your own time.

For more information or questions, please contact YYGS.

Applications Open for United State Senate Youth Program

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is pleased to announce that the state departments of education nationwide have begun their annual selection processes. Two Maine students will be selected to attend the online Washington Week program March 14-18, 2021 and each will receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship. This year the application process will be completely online with each high school principal able to nominate one student from their high school to be considered.

Students must submit their application and signed nomination via email no later than 11:59pm on December 4, 2020. All form, requirements, and additional information can be found at on the Maine Social Studies DOE Website. More about the program can be found on the National USSYP website.

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 as stated in supporting Senate testimony from that year, “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationship of the three branches of government, the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.”

Each year, this extremely competitive merit-based program brings 104 of America’s brightest high school juniors and seniors from every state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity, to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and its leaders. The state departments of education throughout the country select the students through a rigorous nomination and selection process. Each of the 104 student delegates will also receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship, with encouragement to continue coursework in history, government and public affairs. The Hearst Foundations have fully funded and administered the program since inception; as stipulated in S. Res. 324, no government funds are utilized.