MDOE recommends closure of schools statewide

Mar 15, 2020

Augusta — Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin recommends schools across the state be closed to students as soon as practicable and for an indefinite period.

In an email statement Sunday evening, Makin said local communities may manage this in different ways in terms of scheduling time and logistical support for students and families to access belongings left at school, and to receive remote or distance learning materials if applicable.

"Schools will also have local flexibility in terms of offering remote school days and in terms of any decisions to keep school buildings open for staff and for teachers to plan and conduct remote lessons," she said.

Plans for “remote” school days may be approved by district administrators and school boards. "We also want you to know that we will be flexible with waivers on the required number of school days," she said.

"The point of this is to align with social distancing guidance which (includes) avoiding large groups," Makin said.

Her department is collecting resources and information to supplement what schools already have in place with respect to providing teachers, families, and caregivers with guidance on how to support remote learning programs.

MDOE also has resources available on its website to help with talking to children about this uncertain and scary time.

"We want to assure all that Maine DOE, along with many other states, is seeking flexibility from the U.S. Department of Education regarding mandatory assessments and accountability measures," she said.

The MDOE website is being updated continually with resources and information, found at maine.gov/doe/covid-19, her statement said.

Makin said superintendents across the state have been making extremely difficult decisions during the past several days, weighing medical guidance from the CDC with the unique needs of their individual communities, "and they have received calls from all sides of this issue."

"Their equally courageous recent decisions to close or not to close have been made with extreme care and under unprecedentedly challenging circumstances, and with the best interests and well-being of their students and communities at the absolute center," she said.

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