April 8, 2020
I am sure many of you read this morning’s newspaper and saw an announcement by Maine’s Commissioner of Education, encouraging schools in the State to begin planning for distance learning through the end of the current school year. It has been clarified this evening that the intent of that message was to effectively close all schools to classroom instruction for the remainder of the academic year.
Therefore, I am writing to notify you that distance learning will remain the mode of instruction in the Yarmouth Schools through the end of the 2019-2020 school year, with all classrooms remaining closed for the duration of that time.
With this announcement, I am also informing you of a change to our April vacation schedule. We have considered options from maintaining the break as scheduled to working straight through it, and we have arrived at a compromise position that will allow us to enjoy a break from distance learning while ending the school year earlier than anticipated. We will now hold school on Friday, April 17, and teachers will also provide students with a day’s worth of learning activities to be completed on the student’s own schedule during the week of April 20. This will equate to two days of instruction during the break and allow us to end the school year several days earlier than currently scheduled; rather than finishing up on Tuesday, June 16, we will now end the year on Friday, June 12:
- Schools closed, distance learning: Monday, March 16 – Friday, April 17
- April vacation: Monday, April 20 – Friday, April 24
- Schools closed, distance learning: Monday, April 27 – Friday, June 12
Closing schools through the end of the academic year is a painful decision to share with you for several reasons. First and foremost, I know the burden this places on families and staff as we all struggle to balance the many aspects of our busy lives during this demanding and stressful time. Second, as fantastic as our staff have been at providing learning opportunities for students each day, we know that the face-to-face interactions that define our normal school days cannot be replaced through Google Hangouts and video lessons. And finally, I share in your disappointment that so many wonderful end-of-the-year celebrations of our students will not be enjoyed in their traditional settings this spring.
Administrators at each school are already working with their respective leadership teams to determine how best to provide closure and recognition for our students. In some cases, such as High School Graduation, we are holding out hope that conditions may allow for a postponed celebration that ends up looking very much like the traditional ceremony. In other cases, it may mean a virtual celebration. In still other situations, it may be that the event is simply not held this year. In the event of an extraordinary change in the pandemic’s impact on our community, we will certainly consider any safe options for providing in-person closure to this school year. For now, we must abide by this plan to ensure the safety of our staff, students, and community members.
Please be reminded that our playgrounds and athletic facilities remain closed, and I encourage all families to ensure that students of all ages are following proper social distancing expectations. Please help us stop the spread of this disease by staying at home and refraining from large- or small-group gatherings. We should all be well aware that this disease is one that can impact every one of us, regardless of age or prior health status. Please – stay at home, stay healthy, and help us protect everyone in the community.
Andrew Dolloff, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools