Welcome to Winslow Junior High

PARENT LETTER FROM OUR SUPERINTENDENT 9/22/20

September 22, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff,

The Winslow Board of Education met on September 21, 2020. One of the agenda items was an update on the opening of schools. As you know, we delayed the opening of schools until Tuesday, September 8 in order to adhere to the safety guidelines. I am pleased to report that our opening of schools has gone exceptionally well! All grade levels are reporting that the students are abiding to the new safety precautions which include the wearing of masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing. I would also like to add that the staff is working exceptionally hard to provide your students with in-person and/or remote learning experiences.

An inservice day was held on Friday, September 18, 2020. A portion of the day was dedicated for staff to examine our current educational plan. Our inservice day allowed staff the time to have conversations regarding those practices that are going well, along with conversations on how to improve the delivery of instruction while teaching in a hybrid model or using a remote format during this pandemic. Perhaps one of the biggest realizations was that we need to continue with our current hybrid model as long as the current safety recommendations and guidelines remain in effect from the CDC. Our number one priority is to provide a safe learning environment for our students and staff.

A calendar for the month of October has been posted on the district web site so that you can plan accordingly. We will provide you with monthly updates throughout the year. We will continue to assess and monitor our situation, alerting you to any changes as quickly as possible.

An immediate change I would like to bring to your attention is a change for students, parents and staff traveling back from non-exempt states. Our current plan states that you should either quarantine for 14 days upon your return or be tested once you return. In fact, the current recommendation from the CDC indicates that you can be tested 72 hours prior to your return. However, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that people should wait 3-5 days after they return before being tested. A member of our nursing staff contacted our school physician consultant to clarify best practice. His recommendation was indeed to wait the 3-5 days prior to being tested upon your return or quarantine for 14 days. Until this situation is further clarified, Winslow Public Schools will choose the latter option based on the recommendation of our school physician consultant.

As a reminder, it is important to note that if a case of COVID-19 were to develop in the Winslow School Community, Winslow Public Schools would work under the direction of the Maine Center for Disease Control and follow their recommendations (including contact tracing, going red (fully remote), notification of close contacts, etc.). Recommended public health actions will depend on the number of cases, the location of cases and the degree of contact those cases may have had with other students, teachers or staff.

To protect confidentiality, we will follow all HIPPA and FERPA guidelines as they pertain to individuals and families and any potential medical situations that arise. While some families may want specific information, we want to assure all families that we will follow the guidance of the CDC in notifying any close contacts to someone who may test positive for COVID-19. In general, a close contact is defined as someone with exposure to the confirmed case within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more, regardless of whether individuals were wearing face coverings.

If there were a confirmed positive case in a household, the Maine CDC uses a platform called Sara Alert to conduct symptom checks and monitoring of close contacts of confirmed cases. Maine CDC will enroll asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases-whether teachers, students or staff-into Sara Alert for daily monitoring during the quarantine period. Under the direction of the Maine CDC, school community members will be notified when a confirmed or probable case has been detected that is associated with the school. Maine CDC will report publicly when an investigation has been opened into a potential outbreak of COVID-19 associated with a school, as it does in other settings.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire school community for your support and understanding during our current situation. As we are seeing in other communities (Sanford being the most recent,) our current situation could quickly go from a green rating to red, which means we would need to close our schools to in-person learning and return to a completely remote situation for a set period of time. We are working hard to prevent that from happening and we need your help. Applying and practicing the safety protocols of mask wearing, social distancing and the washing of hands must be encouraged beyond the walls of the school. Now is not the time to take the foot off the accelerator when it comes to safety. If anything, we need to be more vigilant so that we keep our students in school and our community safe.

Thank you,

Peter Thiboutot

For general COVID-19 questions, dial 211 (or 1-866-811-5695). You can also text your ZIP code to 898-211 or email info@211maine.org. Call a health care provider for questions about your symptoms. More information can be found at www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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From Our Return to School Plan: Masks vs. Face Shields

Masks/face coverings are among the most critical components of risk reduction during COVID19 and we must be diligent with this step. Face coverings should cover your nose and mouth, and fit snugly against the sides of your face. Cloth face coverings should have multiple layers of cloth. Gaiters/buffs/bandana's are not acceptable face coverings. PK-12 Public Health Guidance (see page 6 of link).

Masks must be worn by all staff/students as outlined in the Winslow School Department Reopening Plan.. Exceptions can be made for students with a documented disability/health condition, which must be on file and accepted before an accommodation can be made. Students may be required to participate in the remote learning cohort if concerns regarding adherence to Maine law or in cases of an accommodation cannot be made.

If a student is wearing a face shield instead of a mask due to a documented medical/developmental issue, they can be in a classroom with others provided that they are able to maintain six foot distance from other students at all times. If they are not able to keep their distance then they should receive instruction in an alternate setting.