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STAFF & COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER
April 22, 2021  
 
Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff and community members,
 
I hope you are enjoying the last few days of our April break. We’re looking forward to seeing our students return to school on Monday, April 26. Our elementary and middle school students will be starting their new schedule of attending in person four days per week. Our high school students will resume the two-day-per-week in-person schedule that they started prior to the break.
 
I’m writing to let you know that we have decided to continue with these increased in-person learning plans, even if the Maine Department of Education’s (MDOE) should recategorize Cumberland County as “yellow” tomorrow. We don’t know if that will happen, but MDOE is slated to update its color-coded county rating system on Friday, April 23. Our county has been “green” for nearly three months now, but new case rates and positivity rates have recently increased statewide, so it’s possible that our rating could change.
 
After careful consultation with the district’s head nurse and chief medical officer, and with input from school administrators and the School Board, we are confident it is safe to proceed with our plans even in a “yellow” scenario, given the health and safety measures we have in place. 
 
Our decision is based on a number of key factors: 
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance continues to advise that in-person schooling can be conducted safely, as long as health and safety measures are followed.
  • Statewide data that is continually reviewed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine CDC indicates lower transmission of COVID-19 in schools compared to the general population.
  • The evidence tells us that not being in school can be more harmful to students than being in school. Some of our own data confirms that. We see increased in-person instruction as a powerful intervention to address opportunity gaps and student mental health challenges.
  • We are confident in our health and safety protocols, which include masking, physical distancing, handwashing and intensive cleaning. Those protocols have been working to help keep our schools safe. The vast majority of PPS cases to date have originated from contacts outside of school, not from within our schools. 
  • The increasing number of staff and now students 16 and older getting vaccines also enhances safety in our schools.
 The vital role students and families in making in-person instruction successful doesn’t change whether our county is categorized as “yellow” or continues as “green.” It is critical that everyone follow all the health and safety procedures in school. As we return after break, it is very important that if anyone in your family is exhibiting symptoms – even if they might seem like spring allergy symptoms – don’t send your student to school! Instead call the school nurse, who can advise you and help arrange for testing. 
 
Also, don’t send your student to school if someone in the family is awaiting test results or quarantining after traveling over the break. Anyone not fully vaccinated who has traveled anywhere in the U.S. outside of New England must quarantine 3 days and get tested before returning to school. Anyone who has traveled outside the U.S. and is not fully vaccinated, must quarantine 7 days and get tested 3-5 days after their return to Maine. International travelers must quarantine the full 7 days, even with a negative test. Read the details on our PPS travel guidelines.
 
Information on test sites can be found at the Keep Maine Healthy website or by calling 211. Information about vaccinations for anyone 16 or older can be found at VaccinateME.Maine.gov or by calling Maine’s Community Vaccination Line at 888-445-4111.
 
With families, students and staff all doing our part, we can make sure we are able to conclude this school year with an in-person learning experience for our students that is both safe and productive.
 
Sincerely, 

Xavier Botana, Superintendent

SPRING REOPENING SITE
HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATES
SCHOOL BOARD NEWS
 FY22 BUDGET TO BE PRESENTED
TO THE CITY COUNCIL ON MONDAY
On April 13th, the Board voted to recommend the FY22 school budget to the Portland City Council. The Board will present the budget to the Council on April 26. Click here for more details about the budget.  Watch the April 13 meeting on YouTube.

Check out the FY22 budget calendar for a schedule of upcoming budget meetings. You can also view Budget Development materials at this link. Go to BoardDocs to view agendas and get more information. Zoom links to meetings will also be posted on this platform, as well as on our social media.
NOTICE
This is an ideal job for college students! Please encourage your college students who may be back home for the summer to apply. 
PARENT UNIVERSITY
AFTER THE FALL:
Stories of Survival, Hope and Resilience

April 28, 2021  7:00-8:30 PM
April 30, 1975 marked the end of the Vietnam conflict that affected the lives of many Vietnamese, Khmer, Lao, Hmong, and Americans. Join us for an evening of sharing personal stories from Maine residents who experienced the war and its aftermath --- and prevailed!

This workshop is an offering to celebrate the upcoming month of May as Asian American Heritage Month.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://zoom.us/j/97013879420?pwd=dzRWU0R1MGdYbGxFRTNMZnpBVkVhZz09

FLYER for this event: English, Acholi, ArabicFrench, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese
Thinking about Education Starting
at Birth

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
7:00-8:30pm
Starting at Zero is a film that explores the power of investing in high-quality early childhood education so that all children and families have the opportunity to thrive and attain the American Dream. What’s the status of early childhood education in Portland and in Maine? Why is birth-to-5 education critical in the development of children? How can families bring their voice in developing quality early childhood education programs? A panel of experts and practitioners will discuss these questions and other questions from the audience. Resources will be made available after the session. For more information about the session and the panelists, please go to this link
To watch the film in advance, access Starting at Zero and use the password, SAZevent.
 
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://zoom.us/j/95791138178
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