Aug. 18, 2021

Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff and community members,
We  are  ready to welcome our students back to full-time, in-person school in just two weeks – with new protocols in place to help keep everyone safe and healthy this school year. 
After a public hearing, discussion and careful consideration, the Portland Board of Public Education on Tuesday, Aug. 17, unanimously approved new health and safety protocols as part of our return-to-school plan. They are based on current public health guidance and have been reviewed by the district’s lead medical staff, administration and staff collective bargaining representatives. 
Based on feedback we received from Board members and the public, we made changes since these plans were first presented at the Aug. 3 Board meeting. For example, all staff will be required to wear masks indoors at all times, regardless of vaccination status.

Here are some key highlights of the health and safety protocols the Board approved on Tuesday:
  • Universal masking for all students and staff in preK through grade 12, indoors and on buses. Masks will not be required outdoors.
  • All staff will be masked indoors at all times except when eating, regardless of vaccination status. Staff gatherings indoors are limited to 100 people and require at least 3 feet of distance. Any staff gathering of more than 100 people must be held outdoors. When possible, eating and meeting outdoors is encouraged.
  • Pooled testing for kindergarten through grade 6, through a state-funded partnership.
  • Mealtimes: Elementary: All schools will keep at least 3 feet of physical distance at meal times by either having only one grade eat at a time or having some classes eat in the classroom. Outdoor spaces will be used as much as possible to achieve more distance. Breakfast will be in the classroom. Middle: Breakfast will be in the classroom. For lunch, one grade (two houses, about 150-175 students) eat at the same time. A combination of large cafeterias, in-room and outdoor eating will allow students to keep 3-feet of distance.
  • Building access for parents, visitors, volunteers and outside groups: Indoor visitors to schools during school hours will be limited to a handful of visitors at a time, following masking and distancing protocols. There will be no visits to occupied classrooms at this time. Outside groups are limited to after-school hours, when students are not in the building. Outside groups will be limited to a maximum of 100, and everyone must follow district distancing and masking procedures. 
  • Daily symptom checks: Families will receive daily reminders to check for symptoms. Anyone exhibiting symptoms must stay home. Symptomatic students who come to school will be sent home, even with a negative test.
  • Vaccinations: In-school clinics will continue to be offered for eligible students. The Maine Department of Education will be reporting on student and staff vaccination rates.
A number of people asked about school ventilation at the public hearing. We have made improvements to ventilation in all our schools. You can read the details for each school here.
Pooled testing in kindergarten through grade 6 – where most students are not eligible to be vaccinated – is a quick way to determine whether anyone in a school or class could transmit the virus and reduce the spread and the number of quarantines.  The process involves collecting nasal swab samples from groups of students or staff and testing them all together in a batch or “pool.” If a pool comes back positive, then everyone in that pool is tested individually. Students who test negative in the follow-up testing will not need to quarantine.  
Participation in pooled testing is voluntary – we will be asking families to sign a consent form to have their students participate. However, if students who do not participate are close contacts of another person who tests positive, they will need to quarantine for a full 10 days. While they can complete assignments at home and expect feedback on those assignments, we won’t provide them remote instruction. Pooled testing is scheduled to begin no later than Sept. 20. We will hold a virtual community forum on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. to answer families’ questions about pooled testing. You also can find information about pooled testing and find consent forms here
Public health authorities are unequivocal that the benefits of in-person instruction offset any potential exposure to COVID-19 for most students. That is why our Remote Academy (online/virtual learning) will be limited this school year to serve only students who qualify for a health accommodation. A health accommodation is defined as a documented physical health condition for the student or member of their immediate household for which a licensed physician requires that they not attend in-person school. Learn more and submit a request here. Please get requests in as soon as possible before school starts so we can plan for appropriate staffing and resources.
As a reminder, the first day of school for students in grades 1-12 is Tuesday, Aug. 31, and the first day for preK and kindergarten students is Thursday, Sept. 2. Most schools will have new start times this year. Please check our 2021-2022 calendar for the bell times for your child’s school.
We had hoped that we would be returning to a more “normal” school experience. However, we are committed to following public health guidance as it evolves over the course of the year. A continued commitment  by everyone – students, staff and families – to follow health and safety protocols in school and in the community will help keep everyone safe. And if you have not yet done so and you or your children are eligible – please get your shot!

Xavier Botana, Superintendent
Portland Board of Public Education Approves 2021-22 Reopening Plan
Click here or on the above image to review the PowerPoint slides. Below is the video link to the Board meeting when they discussed and approved the plan.

Please see this Reopening Website for the most up-to-date information regarding school reopening in the fall, including pooled testing, universal masking indoors, and continued increased sanitation measures.  

Letter from School Nurse Coordinator
About Pooled Testing
Dear Portland Public Schools Families,
PPS will be adding a new strategy to our COVID-19 prevention measures this year: “pooled testing” in grades K-6. Pooled testing means that students and staff in a classroom will have a COVID-19 test once a week. Students participating in pooled testing will not need to quarantine from school if they are considered close contacts of a positive case, as long as they do not have symptoms. Pooled testing is a voluntary program. Parents must sign a consent form in order for their child to participate. All of the testing is free.

We believe pooled testing will be an important part of keeping classrooms safe and will greatly reduce the amount of days any student will need to be out of school in quarantine. We have chosen to use pooled testing in grades K-6 because students under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against COVID.
  • One day per week, each student who is enrolled in the program will do a self nasal COVID swab in class. Each child will be given a swab, and they will put it just inside each nostril, and then all the swabs will be placed in one testing tube. 
  • The tube will be sent to a lab. In about 48 hours, the school nurse will see the results of the test. If the tube, or “pool,” is negative, nothing needs to be done. The class will continue to be tested on a regular weekly basis. 
  • If a tube is positive, each person in that group must have another test. The school nurse will do a rapid “BinaxNOW” test at school. Each student that has a negative “BinaxNOW”  test can return to class. 
  • Any student who is positive must stay in the isolation area of the nurse’s office and their parent will be notified. The parent must come to school to pick up their child. A student who is positive for COVID cannot stay in school and cannot ride the bus home. Please have a plan to pick up your child from school during school hours in the event your child becomes ill. Be sure the school has your most up-to-date contact information.  
  • Following our current CDC guidelines, anyone who is a close contact of a positive case and is NOT part of pooled testing, will need to quarantine for 10 days. A COVID test is recommended 5-7 days from exposure. 
  • Any student who is a close contact and IS part of pooled testing, can continue to come to school as long as they do not have symptoms of COVID. Students who are part of pooled testing may continue to come to school because they are being tested weekly for COVID. 
IMPORTANT: Any student who has symptoms of COVID – regardless if they are part of pooled testing or not – must stay home until symptoms have resolved and/or they have been cleared by their physician.  
For more information on pooled testing from the company we will be working with, Click here.
Pooled testing is slated to begin in mid-September. Prior to that time, we will be holding a virtual community forum on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. to answer families’ questions about pooled testing.
Tina Veilleux, RN
School Nurse Coordinator, Portland Public Schools

Starting in the fall, pooled testing will be utilized as a new mitigation layer for K through 6th grade. Pooled testing will be provided by Concentric and is made possible by the state-funded program. Learn more about Pooled Testing here

Participation in pooled testing is voluntary, families will need to complete the form below.


Pooled Testing Consent Form: 

Acholi| Arabic العربية | Cambodian Khmer ខ្មែរ | English | French | Portuguese| Somali | Spanish Español | Vietnamese Tiếng Việt



Remote Academy (online/virtual learning) will only be available on a limited basis for the 2021-2022 school year for students who qualify for a health accommodation. The deadline for Remote Academy requests has been extended. 

To qualify, families must complete a request form and must also provide documentation to their neighborhood school (i.e. a medical note from a licensed physician) to support the request. Click here for more information, and here for the request form and translations.

Below is a summary of start and end times for the 2021-2022 school year:

East End, Longfellow, Ocean Avenue, Talbot: 7:40 to 2:10    

Lyseth, Presumpscot, Reiche, Rowe: 9:00 to 3:30    

Middle Schools and High Schools (except PATHS): 8:20 to 2:50    

PATHS: 8:00 to 10:30 and 11:00 to 1:30

Island Schools stay the same: Cliff 8:20-3:15 and Peaks 8:20-3:05

Pre-kindergarten students attending district elementary schools will follow those schools’ schedules.

PreK students attending the PATHS PreK program, Youth and Family Outreach, Catherine Morrill Day Nursery and St. Elizabeth’s Child Development Center: 9:00 to 3:30 

PreK students attending Children’s Odyssey: 7:40 to 2:10

The 2021/22 School Year Calendar can be found here. Here's the link to the Translated versions of the calendar.

Click here for the translated versions of this flyer.

Superintendent Xavier Botana’s August column in The Forecaster focuses on the district’s plan to “Build Back Better” in the 2021-2022 school year by focusing on four key teaching and learning priorities. "Portland Promise supports teaching and learning priorities" 

Nine new administrative staff members were introduced to the Portland Board of Public Education at its Aug. 17 meeting. Some are new to the district and others are taking on new roles.

Among those introduced were Lincoln Middle School’s Interim Principal Robyn Bailey and Interim Assistant Principal Kathie Marquis-Girard. Ms. Bailey has been Lincoln’s assistant principal, but is stepping into the principal’s role on a temporary basis for the 2021-2022 school year. Ms. Marquis-Girard, a retired Portland High School assistant principal, will serve as Lincoln’s assistant principal in an interim role for the coming school year.  A permanent principal will be selected prior to the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

Also introduced were Jane Armstrong, Assistant Director of Language Development for English Learner Programming; Kate Brogan, the district’s new ombudsperson; Maureen Fox, Special Education/Multilingual Coordinator; Courtney Graffius, Technology Integration Coordinator; Julia Hazel, Director of BIPOC Career Pathways and Leadership Development; Priya Natarajan, High School Math Instructional Coach; and Katie West, Outdoor Learning Coordinator. Learn more about each of these outstanding staff members. 


The Portland Public Schools has won a $500,000 award from the Barr Foundation. The investment from Barr will allow the district to continue its work of helping more students graduate prepared and empowered by focusing on the factors that prevent some students from reaching that goal and by providing strong transitions, high expectations, and targeted supports for those off track along the way. Learn more

CBHS Renews EL Education Credential

After a “fabulous” presentation to national school network EL Education evaluators in July, Casco Bay High School has successfully renewed its EL Education Credential for another five years. EL Education supports an expanded definition of student achievement that combines student character and high-quality work with mastery of knowledge and skills. The EL Education Credential recognizes schools that demonstrate remarkable results with all students in each of these areas through a deep implementation of the EL Education school model. The 43 Credentialed schools in the EL Education network nationwide serve as models to inspire others. Read more. 
We are hiring two Americorp VISTA positions, see the postings below. The application and more information can be found here for the PPS position and here for the Mulitilingual and Multicultural Center position. Spread the word! 
August 26th, 2021
7:00 - 8:00 pm
If you are a family new to Portland Public Schools, Superintendent Xavier Botana would like to welcome you and share an overview of Pre-K-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.

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

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

*Saturday, September 11, 2021
East End Community School
195 North St. Portland, ME

*Rain Date:
Saturday, September 18th, 2021
We will be outside.
Please wear your mask.

The CUP is a series of social events and friendly competitions designed to celebrate all employees of Portland Public Schools. This forum is a partnership between Portland Public Schools and the Portland Education Association. Check the website for upcoming events.

Note to Newsletter Subscribers

To change mailing preferences or unsubscribe, open the newsletter, scroll to the bottom of the page, and follow the instructions. If you have other questions and feedback, contact us at
Copyright © 2020 Portland Public Schools, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
353 Cumberland Ave, Portland, ME 04101
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.