Important Notice Regarding COVID-19
March 15, 2020
Dear St. Michael School Families,
Thank you for all of your concern and information, as we work together to understand the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak and create next steps to educate our students at St. Michael School.
St. Michael School will be closed effective immediately. Our current plan is to remain closed through March 27th at a minimum. Parents of Grade PK3-8 students should come to school this Tuesday, March 17th, to pick up textbooks, Chromebooks, workbooks, handouts, and paperwork, from their classrooms and/or lockers between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm. In addition, any students in Grades PK3-8 who have personal belongings at school should also come to school on Tuesday and pick them up. We ask parents who come to school on Tuesday to stay for no longer than 15 minutes. Please do not stay to socialize and congregate.
The decision to close the school was made by Superintendent, Marianne Pelletier, in consultation with Father John, the School Board and me. We have considered up-to-date information provided by the Maine CDC and Department of Education. We feel it is our civic duty to help “flatten the curve” by curtailing public activities that could increase the community spread of the virus. During this closure, we ask that you assist by minimizing group meetings of students and adults. Practicing social distancing and good personal hygiene are the two greatest steps we can take to protect our community from the spread of COVID-19.
During the last three weeks, our school took initial steps to prepare teachers for online instruction. We will hold an additional staff day on Monday the 16th. A combination of packets, projects, online teaching and other distance learning approaches will begin on Wednesday, March 18th, according to a schedule that your classroom teachers will send home. School will begin daily at 9:00 with a Facebook live session from me, with the pledge, a scripture reading for that day, and a closing prayer. Classes will begin at 9:10 for those that will be doing on-line classes through Zoom, or something else chosen by the teacher. Students not doing on-line work, should begin working on their packets at 9:10, and take an outside break in the morning along with a lunch break. No one should be doing any work after 2:00 pm. We need to pace ourselves as we honestly don’t know how long this might last.
We understand that this decision will prompt questions. The teachers and I will continue to communicate with you and do our very best to answer your questions and provide support. But please consider that this is new for all of us, and we will be doing the best we can. If something doesn’t work, we will look to modify what we do. I know several teachers have already started private Facebook groups for their individual classrooms. Below are some specific measures we will implement:
Continuity of Teaching and Learning: Our intention is that student learning continue through the closure, although in a modified form. This will include our specials: Art, Music, Library, Physical Education and Spanish. We will have weekly school drop offs of materials for families without stable internet service and for our friends in the lower grades. During official closure of the school, teachers and staff will have access to the buildings. With minimal foot traffic, our maintenance staff will increase cleaning and disinfecting the schools.
Continuity of Extra-Curricular Programs: For Maine middle schools, the Maine Principals’ Association announced yesterday that the anticipated first day for spring sports practices for baseball, softball and cross country will be Monday, April 27th. Our other extra-curricular programs are also suspended until that date.
Major School Activities Scheduled for Later in the School Year: Many have asked if St. Michael School will be able to hold such important activities as the Spring Concert on June 4th, The Academic Showcase on April 30th, The Auction on May 16th, Discover the Science on May 8th, The Travis Mills Walkathon on May 14th, First Eucharist on May 30th, and even 8th Grade Graduation on June 16th. Hopefully we can have all of this, but we just don’t know, and we will communicate these decisions as soon as possible.
As I write this letter, there are six COVID-19 cases in Maine. However, that may change in the near future. It is our hope that closing our campuses, as other schools throughout the state and region are doing, will contribute to community health and safety and end this pandemic as quickly as possible.
I have received many calls today from parents and staff who shared that they were praying for St. Michael School and all those affected by the virus. They shared that they would continue to pray until we are back to normal. This made me proud to be part of our school and proud of our Catholic faith. Prayer will make a positive impact on those who are sick, our school, community and world. Thank you for your continued support and understanding. Please remain safe and prayerful.
God’s blessing to you and your families,
Kevin Cullen, Principal