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August 24, 2021
SUPERINTENDENT UPDATE


Here's this week's update from the superintendent on current information regarding our schools. Read more. 
NEWS FROM HUMAN RESOURCES 
New State Mandate on Reporting Vaccination Rates for All School Staff

As part of the new DHHS Declaration of Public Health Emergency,1 Portland Public Schools is required to report the COVID-19 vaccination rates for all of our paid employees.2  We will be reporting the total number of school staff, and the total number of those staff who are fully vaccinated.3

Portland Public Schools will not report individual names or other identifying information to DHHS.  Our first report is due prior to the September 10 deadline.  This will be an ongoing process per the declaration.  We are required to report this information every month by the 10th of the month for vaccination data as of the last day of the previous month.

Currently, Portland Public Schools does not require its staff to be vaccinated.  Building administrators and department heads will ask to view vaccination cards for their staff, and then they will attest to having viewed it, if a staff member presents their card (or a picture of their card).  All staff who show proof of vaccination will receive a $100 bonus from Portland Public Schools within 45 days after showing their vaccination record.  The deadline for administrators and department heads to submit the September data is Wednesday, September 1.  A report of vaccination rates by school/location will be made publicly available on the DHHS website and linked to the DOE website in the middle of each month.
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1Pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 804(2), DHHS has the authority to enforce this policy.
2The definition of school “staff” for the purposes of vaccination reporting is all those providing instruction, services, or interacting with students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12, including 1) all full- and part-time employees and 2) temporary or contracted personnel.
3The definition of “fully vaccinated” for the purposes of vaccination reporting is having received either two (2) doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at least 14 days prior to the survey date.

Benefits Highlights

Welcome back everyone!  As you get settled into School Year 2021-22, please remember to check out our NEW Benefits Portal.  It is a fabulous place to access information 24/7 on all of your benefits. 
You can find benefit details, such as plan options, biweekly deductions, FAQs, forms, customer service contacts, and more.  We will also provide periodic benefit reminders here to help you get the most out of your plan choice.

Since so many of you have asked:  All of our Anthem plans include Vision Coverage.  You can access this information on the medical tab within the Benefits Portal.  On this page you will find the Anthem Enrollment Booklet (vision info is on pages 23-24) and a list of participating providers.
Electronic Device User Agreement

The district is rolling out new electronic device user agreements for all staff who have a laptop or Chromebook.  We expect ALL staff to complete the updated user agreement by September 30, 2021.
The electronic version of the user agreement can be viewed and signed here. Please take a moment to read and complete the new agreement. Building and department secretaries will be verifying that all staff members with devices have signed (and will be following up with those who haven’t) to ensure all signatures are received by 9/30/2021.
NOTICES
Here's the 2021-22 Staff Navigator, a comprehensive directory of Central Office staff, their roles and contact information. 
Website of LGBTQ+ and Gender Expansive Resources now Available to Schools

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has launched a new section of its website devoted to improving school climate and support of LGBTQ+ students in Maine. Learn more. 
DISTRICTWIDE WELCOME BACK SESSION

Welcome Back session for all PPS staff is tomorrow, Wednesday, August 25 from 8:30-9:30 AM via zoom. Here's the link to join!  Passcode: 950680
Requirement for Volunteers

Volunteers such as Foster Grandparents, Make It Happen Coaches, etc. will now be allowed in our schools but they will be required to provide proof of vaccination before they can begin their work in the school. For regular, consistent volunteers, the school's community coordinator will manage this and verify their vaccination status. For one-off volunteers (i.e., someone coming to speak to a class, etc), the supervising staff should confirm their vaccination status. As with all outside visitors to our schools, volunteers also must follow masking and distancing protocols.
Beautiful Blackbird Children's Book Festival: Educator's Toolkit 
Indigo Arts Alliance's Beautiful Blackbird Children's Book Festival celebrates Black illustrators and children's books authors. It is essential that we also celebrate Black books and Black children’s book creators in our classrooms, libraries, and homes. This Educator's Toolkit provides ways to engage with the books in this year’s Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival. We hope these tools find their way into your exploration of African diaspora experience!
You are invited! 
NEWS FOM TECH DEPARTMENT

Elementary Teachers: Logging in using Clever Badges

PK-5 student devices have been configured in Clever, our Single Sign on Service, to use Clever Badges. Once logged in to Clever, students will be logged into their applications/software. The purpose is to decrease the need for young students to enter login credentials on devices and to seamlessly navigate to apps. Classroom teachers, please review this Elementary Clever Badge Quick Start Guide. Badges should accompany devices when they are deployed. On a related note, PK-3 Seesaw classes will be set up, including rosters, in Clever so teachers should not set up their own classes.

District Supported Software

Please see the District Supported Software website to learn which software/applications are district supported across PK-12 as well as each grade span. This is also linked on the Self Serve Portal for quick reference.


REACH MY TEACH: 
District Supported Communication Method with Students and Families

Ready for an easier way to communicate with students and families? This year we will be introducing a new program -  ReachMyTeach (reachmyteach.com) for schools to use to communicate with students and families. Last year, many schools used the free version of Talking Points or Remind but this year they will have the opportunity to use ReachMyTeach (RMT) which is similar to those but does much more.

RMT was created by our Deering High School teacher Jeff Borland and his student (Aidan Blum Levine). ReachMyTeach will come preloaded with student/family contact information, including language preferences so that school staff are able to communicate with students and families of one student or many (i.e. the whole class) via text messages, email or phone with automatic translation for text and email. Staff will now be able to make calls home from the program directly (no more searching IC for numbers), and this call will come from the school’s phone number (not the teacher’s cell phone). We are all hoping that this tool will make life easier for teachers and improve family engagement.

We highly recommend using this tool instead of Talking Points because we will have support for RMT but not for Talking Points. Here is a four minute video overview of Reach My Teach. To login to Reach My Teach, go to:  https://contacts.winnme.com/ and sign in with your PPS Google credentials. The first time you login you will be able to follow a tutorial which can subsequently be found in the top right next to your user profile icon. This will be on the Self Serve Portal soon.
PPS NEWS
Spotlight on Food Service Staff Member

Superintendent Xavier Botana used his column in The Forecaster to highlight a wide variety of outstanding PPS employees throughout this past school year. His final column in that series featuring key staff was published in July and shined a spotlight on Jess Puzak, cafeteria team leader at Rowe Elementary School. Check out the column, titled: "Food Service team essential to learning"
 
Nellie Mae Introduces Speakers Bureau

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation's 2021 Speakers Bureau members include Balqies Mohamed, a senior at Deering High School & Youth Organizer for Portland Empowered, and Muntaha Mohamed, Portland Empowered's Lead Facilitator & Head of Youth Programming! Learn more.
 
The Foundation for Portland Public Schools (FPPS) is happy to announce the upcoming application period for our annual Equity & Innovation Teacher Grants program. For those of you who are new, FPPS distributes $50,000 of grants (maximum amount $1,000 each) for teachers and other staff each fall. Grants are intended to support teacher-led classroom innovations which enhance learning experiences for students in the Portland Public Schools  The updated guidelines are available now. 
 
Beginning this Friday, August 27, 2021 the application will be live at https://www.foundationforpps.org/fpps-teacher-grants-program-2021/ The deadline to apply is October 7th, 2021. Decisions will be made by late October and money distributed by early November, 2021.
 
Many of Portland’s teachers have applied in past years, and we’re hoping you’ll help spread the word by announcing the application window in your schools. Thanks for your help, and feel free to email us with questions at Grants@foundationforpps.org.


Maine Teachers of Year Attend NASA
Space Camp Experience

Talbot Community School 4th Grade Teacher and 2021 Teacher of the Year Cindy Soule, along with Gorham Middle School Alternative Education Teacher and 2020 Teacher of the Year Heather Whitaker, recently attended the NASA Space Academy as part of Maine Teacher of the Year recognition. Read more.
PARENT UNIVERSITY
WELCOMING NEW FAMILIES TO THE PORTLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS

August 26th, 2021
7:00 - 8:00 pm

 
If you are a family new to the Portland Public Schools, Superintendent Xavier Botana would like to welcome you and share an overview of Pre-K through Adult Education in our district. He will discuss the Portland Promise, the District’s commitment to an equitable and inclusive education and ways we communicate and engage families. We hope you can join us by Zoom!

ENGLISH Flyer for this Event.
CLICK HERE FOR TRANSLATED VERSIONS

Acholi, Arabic, French, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese
PUBLIC FORUM ON POOLED TESTING

September 1, 2021
7:00 PM
English Flyer

Click here for the translated versions of this flyer

Learn about pooled testing and how it will help keep your child and our community safe and healthy as we start the 2021-22 school year.

Join us on zoom!
https://us06web.zoom.us/j/89347573792
BACK TO SCHOOL FAIR
*Saturday, September 11, 2021
1:00pm-4:00pm 
East End Community School
195 North St. Portland, ME

*Rain Date:
Saturday, September 18th, 2021
 
We will be outside.
Please wear your mask.
Join us for an afternoon of important activities! 
  1. Activate your online parent login & complete important school forms to access free & reduced lunch, & more.
  2. Learn about health & safety protocols at your schools.
  3. Access community resources & information about the Child Tax Credit, EBT Cards, & more.
  4. Vaccination Clinic, 2:00pm-4:00pm: Free Pfizer COVID vaccinations
ENGLISH Flyer for this Event.
CLICK HERE FOR TRANSLATED VERSIONS

Acholi, Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese


Send us your feedback, suggestions, questions, and contributions to the PPS Staff Resources page. Contact us at communications@portlandschools.org.
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