Media Release: Mills Administration Updates COVID-19 School Health Advisory System

All counties now green.

AUGUSTA — The Mills Administration today released an update to its color-coded Health Advisory System that classifies counties’ relative risk of COVID-19 transmission to assist schools as they continue with their efforts to deliver instruction and support students safely.

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) assessed COVID-19 data and trends for all counties and released the following designations:

  • NOW GREEN: The new case rate in Androscoggin County has fallen by more than 25 percent, and the positivity rate is similar to that of several other counties.
  • All other counties remain green.

These designations are made out of an abundance of caution and for the consideration of school administrative units in their decisions to deliver instruction. DHHS and Maine CDC continue to review evidence that indicates lower transmission of COVID-19 in schools compared to the general population.

Over the last 30 days, the rate of new cases for school staff and students has fallen to 39 per 10,000, about 35 percent lower than a new case rate of 60 per 10,000 for the general population.

This continues to demonstrate that in-person learning in schools that follow public health precautions can be conducted safely, without increased transmission of COVID-19, when schools use proven health and safety protocols and resources.

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 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 during the school year. 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.

Maine schools have been safely open since the fall by adhering to the six requirements for returning to in-person instruction and by following the protocols for identifying close contacts that are found in the Standard Operating Procedure for a positive case in schools, regardless of their county color designation.

The next update will be provided on June 4, 2021. Updating this advisory on a two-week basis aligns with the incubation period for COVID-19 and allows for greater stability in the trend data for small counties.

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MEDIA RELEASE: Two Maine High School Students Named “National Cyber Scholars” After Winning Nationwide Competition to Identify Rising Stars in Critical Industry

30,000 Students Across the Country Sought to Qualify for this Cybersecurity Competition hosted by National Cyber Scholarship Foundation

The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation has named two Maine students, “National Cyber Scholars” after winning a rigorous 48-hour competition designed to evaluate aptitude in combating cyber threats, showcasing the advanced programming available in Maine schools.

Maine National Cyber Scholars:

  • Dena Arrison, Freeport High School
  • Vealy Lai, Maine School of Science and Mathematics

Over 30,000 high school students across the country sought to qualify for this year’s competition, and only 5,000 advanced to the first round. Of those students, only 600 nationwide performed well enough to earn the title “National Cyber Scholars.” These students each won a $2,500 scholarship and an invitation to participate in the Cyber Foundations Academy, a multi-week training and certification course.

Cybersecurity is a critical issue facing this country with the potential to impact our nation’s government, defense, communications and financial systems. According to recent studies, in order to properly defend our infrastructure from attack, we need to train more than 3 million cybersecurity professionals. This scholarship and competition are designed to attract and incentivize more students to enter the field.

“Congratulations to Dena and Vealy for this incredible honor! We are so proud of all the students that participated in this competition, and grateful for the schools who prepare, encourage, and support students in pursuing opportunities like this,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “Our state education system continues to make strides that allow us to adapt and prioritize the ever-changing advances in technology, including laying the foundational groundwork for a robust cyber security workforce here in Maine.”

“This scholarship recognizes high school students who have demonstrated exceptional cybersecurity talent,” noted David Brown, executive director, National Cyber Scholarship Foundation. “The NCSF mission is to help close the critical cybersecurity skills gap by identifying and developing the next generation of cyber professionals. Each and every student who participated in this competition has the potential to develop their skills and build a successful career in cybersecurity.”

There are several qualification pathways for the National Cyber Scholarship Competition including CyberStart America, a free online program that helps students discover their interest in cybersecurity and develop their talent and skills. The NCSC offers 600 college scholarships to top-ranking competitors. Additionally, National Cyber Scholars, along with the competition’s 1,000 finalists, are invited to participate in the Cyber Foundations Academy.

To learn more visit: National Cyber Scholarship Foundation.

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MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Joins MACTE in Honoring 2020/2021 CTE Students of the Year 

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and the Maine Administrators of Career and Technical Education (MACTE) would like to congratulate the recently announced 2020/2021 Career and Technical Education (CTE) Students of the Year.

Maine’s CTE Sites and Centers recognize an outstanding graduating senior annually. Students who are recognized participate in one of a multitude of CTE programs in regions across Maine including electrical, culinary arts, multimedia, heavy equipment operations, advanced communications, certified nursing programs, early childhood education, law enforcement, building trades, agriculture, and plumbing and heating, to name a few. Many of these students are graduating high school with college credits and/or certifications that will allow them to begin working on the frontlines immediately while others have obtained advanced training and experience that will enable them to make informed choices about their future career path and education journey.

“Maine’s Career and Technical Education programs provide some of the most innovative, project-based learning opportunities available in our state,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “I commend these distinguished seniors on their dedication and determination in following their passions through experiential learning. I wish each and every one of them the very the best as they write the next chapter of their future!”

To honor these students individually, Maine DOE will be highlighting each of the CTE Students of the Year with an individual profile in the Maine DOE Newsroom and on its social media sites (Facebook and Twitter) showcasing their work as CTE students and future plans as graduating seniors, including positive words from the educators who guided them on their journey.

“The Maine Administrators of Career and Technical Education are incredibly proud to honor these exceptional students,” said MACTE President Rob Callahan.  “Their hard work, professionalism and personal character have distinguished them in rigorous programs of study.  They are surely the leaders of tomorrow both in their chosen professional area and in Maine. Congratulations all!”

2021 CTE Students of the Year:

Students are listed in alphabetical order by CTE Site/Center

Nathan Crossley
Electricity Program
Bath Regional Career and Technical Center, Bath
Matthew Laflamme
Business Leadership Program
Biddeford Regional Center of Technology, Biddeford
Everett Blair
Law Enforcement Program
Capital Area Technical Center, Augusta
Brendan Blackstone
Agriculture & Welding Programs
Caribou Regional Technology Center, Caribou
Dymond Dake
Welding Program
Coastal Washington County Institute of Technology, Machias
Elaine Perkins
Early Childhood Education
Croix Regional Technical Center, Calais
Haley Walsh
CNA & Biotechnology
Foster Technology Center, Farmington
Bryce Carter
Biomedical Science Program
Hancock County Technical Center, Ellsworth
Omar Elalam
Advanced Computer Technologies II program
Lake Region Vocational Center, Naples
Colin Merritt
Plumbing & Heating
Lewiston Regional Technical Center, Lewiston
Wyatt Shepard
Building Trades program
Maine Region Ten Technical High School, Brunswick
Emily Miller
Design/Technology Program
Mid-Coast School of Technology, Rockland
Paige Dudley
Outdoor Leadership program
Mid-Maine Technical Center, Waterville
Alexis Violette
Machine Tool and Business Programs
MSAD #24, Van Buren
Katahdin Javner
Construction Technology, Information Technology, and Automotive Technology
Northern Penobscot Tech, Lincoln
Culiandra Nero
Graphic Design
Oxford Hills Technical School, Norway
Christiana Rae Gannon (Anna)
Carpentry Program
Portland Arts and Technology High School, Portland
Brandon Dubie
Agriscience Program
Presque Isle Regional Technology Center, Presque Isle
Mary T Lombardi
Engineering & Architectural Design
Sanford Regional Technical Center, Sanford
Jasmine Dixon
Building Construction
School of Applied Technology, Mexico
Emma Huntley
Early Childhood Education Program
Somerset Career and Technical Center, Skowhegan
Alyssa Drake
Nursing Program
Southern Aroostook County, Houlton
Anthony Pelletier
Allied Health Pathway
St. John Valley Technology Center, Frenchville
Ann Gerardi
Criminal Justice Program
Tri-County Technical Center, Dexter
Mackenzie Stepp
Medical Assisting Program
United Technologies Center, Bangor
Daisy Bradney
Culinary Arts Program
Waldo County Technical Center, Waldo

MEDIA RELEASE: Two Maine Students Named 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars

U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona today announced the 57th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing 161 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics, the arts and career and technical education fields.

The Maine scholars include (hometown, scholar, school, location):

  • ME – Orrington – Devon Michael Hunter, John Bapst Memorial High School, Veazie, Maine.
  • ME – Springvale – Aislynn K Worden, Sanford High School, Sanford, Maine.

“The 2021 Presidential Scholars represent extraordinary achievements for our extraordinary times,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “I am delighted to join President Biden in saluting these outstanding young people for their achievements, service, character and continued pursuit of excellence. Their examples make me proud and hopeful about the future. Honoring them can remind us all of the great potential in each new generation and renew our commitment to helping them achieve their dreams.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

Of the 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 6,000 candidates qualified for the 2021 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, other partner recognition organizations and the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ program.

As directed by Presidential Executive Order, the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 Scholars in the arts and 20 Scholars in career and technical education.

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 7,600 of the nation’s top-performing students. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

The Presidential Scholars Class of 2021 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer.

A complete list of 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars is also available at http://www.ed.gov/psp.

MEDIA RELEASE: 2021 County Teachers of the Year Announced in Virtual Ceremony  

Teachers from all 16 of Maine’s counties were honored today in a virtual announcement that was broadcast live on the Maine Department of Education’s YouTube page.

As part of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program, hundreds of teachers across Maine are nominated by a member of their school community. Through a rigorous application process, one teacher from each county is selected as the County Teacher of the Year by a panel of teachers, principals, and business community members within the county.

During the ceremony, teachers were honored by Maine Department of Education Commissioner, Pender Makin; Educate Maine Executive Director, Jason Judd; State Board of Education member, Peter Geiger; 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year, Cindy Soule; Maine County, State Teachers of the Year Association Co-President Shana Goodall; and Maine’s 2021 Poetry Out Loud Champion, Emily Paruk, a senior from Gorham High School.

2021 County Teachers of the Year:

After being named, Maine County Teachers of the Year serve as ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education state-wide throughout the year, and continue to participate in an intensive Maine State Teacher of the Year selection process.

The Maine County Teachers of the Year are available to make presentations to local and regional organizations.

The Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year Program is administered through a collaborative partnership with Educate Maine. To learn more about the Teacher of the Year Program visit: https://www.mainetoy.org/

For more information about the 2021 Maine County Teachers of the year contact Rachel Paling (Maine DOE) at rachel.paling@maine.gov or Dolly Sullivan (Educate Maine) at dolly@educatemaine.org.