May 28, 2021   
Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff and community members,

Although COVID-19 restrictions are being relaxed in Maine and around the county, we plan to stay the course with most of our health and safety protocols for the rest of this school year. That’s because some of the new guidance doesn’t apply to schools, and reorientation for the part that does isn’t practical in the less than three weeks of school that we have left. We came to this decision in concert with school leaders and teacher representatives.
Here are some key highlights of our health and safety protocols through the end of the 2020-2021 school year:
  • Students and staff must continue to wear masks on school premises, both indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. Recent changes to the mask mandates (both federal and state) do NOT apply to the school setting. 

  • We will maintain our current physical distancing guidance for students and staff, indoors and outdoors. We will continue to hold classes and activities outside whenever possible this spring. Over the summer and for the fall, we may revisit an option to use a new pooled-testing alternative to reduce physical distancing in school.
  • We will maintain the six-foot distance for staff and students when they are unmasked and eating or drinking, indoors or outdoors.
  • We will not allow parents and other non-essential visitors in our schools through the end of this school year except for PreK/K Screening and Multilingual Meet and Greets.

Other ways we can all conclude this year safely is for students and staff to stay home from school if they have any symptoms (even if they seem like spring allergy symptoms!), and for everyone eligible to get vaccinated. We encourage our families to get vaccinated, including children 12 and older. Learn more about vaccine opportunities in our Health Updates document. The more members of our school community who are vaccinated, the fewer students and staff will have to quarantine and the safer we’ll all be for the rest of this year and the fall, when we plan to be back to full-time school.
The last day of school is fast approaching – June 15 for students (June 16 for teachers). Next up are summer learning programs. Schools have sent out an invitation letter for students invited to attend our school-based programs. Families can sign up for elective Community Partner Programs. Schools are sending home a translated brochure about these programs and a translated Google Form with students.  We’ll also share the information with families by email and give the brochure to our community partners, who will share them in the community. Learn more about our roster of engaging summer programs on our website or by clicking  HERE.
Also on our website, you’ll find our new Portland Public Schools “Students Speak Up” site. 
This site is designed to provide students, families, and staff with information and resources in order to uphold our policies on harassment and discrimination.  We strive to create a school district where all students and staff feel safe and welcome. The Students Speak Up website and reporting form are part of our commitment to increased prevention programming, education, and swifter intervention when problems are reported. 
In other news, please join us at the June 1 virtual Board meeting, when we will be recognizing more than 35 of our PPS staff members who are retiring from the district this year. We will be celebrating the achievements of these amazing people – who represent every employee group across the district and who collectively have dedicated more than 1,000 years of service to our community. Our 2021 retirees have our deepest gratitude for their dedication and service.
Also, just a reminder that the City of Portland’s June 8 special municipal election for the community to vote on our FY22 school budget and on City Charter commissioners is less than two weeks away. We are hopeful that our Portland Public Schools community will recognize the importance of the equity investments in our school budget and continue to support the work of the district. You don’t have to wait until Election Day to vote. Absentee voting is open – get voting information here.

Xavier Botana, Superintendent
Please join us at the June 1 Board meeting to recognize more than 35 Portland Public Schools employees who are retiring from the district this year. We will be celebrating the achievements of these amazing people, who represent every employee group across the district and who have dedicated more than 1,000 years of service to our community. The Zoom link can be found here


This link has the latest information on clinics and vaccine opportunities, travel guidelines, distancing, use of masks, cleaning, and COVID-19 testing. 

The Portland Public Schools puts out a weekly COVID advisory each Friday. It includes the number of positive cases associated with our schools during the past week and any outbreak declarations or building closures as a result. Staff, families and staff at impacted schools are immediately notified of positive cases and closings, but the weekly advisory is an effort to keep the broader PPS community informed. The advisory typically is posted at the end of the day on Fridays in the District Spotlight section of the district's homepage. Here’s the link to the May 28th update
What a challenging school year it has been! Portland Public School support teams, including school counselors and school social workers, have compiled wellness resources for students to refer back to this summer. The document can be found here, and includes items such as opportunities for joy and resources to support you if you find you are having a difficult time. 
As the Class of 2021 prepares to graduate in June, the Portland Public Schools’ three high schools have released lists of their top-performing students academically. Click here for the lists of students who made the Portland and Deering high schools’ Top 10 lists and Casco Bay High School’s list of students who will graduate Summa Cum Laude.
On its website, Junior Achievement of Maine recently recognized Kathy Feenstra, a first-grade teacher at Reiche Community School, as part of its “Extraordinary Educators" campaign. JA describes Kathy and other extraordinary teachers as “role models and mentors who help empower, motivate, and prepare students to envision their future and ignite a passion for continuous learning.” Read more about Kathy here.

In its newsroom, the Maine Department of Education shared the news about Lyseth Elementary School Spanish Immersion teacher José Ivan Sabau Torrelo winning a “Teacher of the Year” award. Read more here.
Portland, Deering and Casco Bay high school will hold in-person commencement ceremonies on June 2 and 3 for the approximately 500 graduating seniors in the Class of 2021. The high school graduation ceremony schedule is as follows:
  • 147th  Deering High School Graduation: Wednesday, June 2, 11 a.m., Memorial Field (Rain date, Friday, June 4, 11 a.m., Memorial Field)
  • 200th Portland High School Graduation: Thursday, June 3, 11 a.m., Merrill Auditorium
  • 13th Casco Bay High School Graduation: Thursday, June 3, 6 p.m., Merrill Auditorium
Learn more about these ceremonies here.
Portland Adult Education
 (PAE) will hold its graduation ceremony on June 24 at 6 p.m. at Merrill Auditorium.
The City of Portland is holding a special municipal election on Tuesday, June 8 for Portland voters to vote on our equity-based FY22 school budget and on City Charter commissioners. Get voting information here, or learn more below. Learn details of the school budget here. We encourage members of our Portland Public Schools community to vote!

The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. 

Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

You can learn more here, or by calling 833-511-0311   

Portland Public Schools has school-based and district-based summer programs for students who need extended academic support. Most of these sessions are by invitation only. More information about these programs are found in this website. The district is also partnering with community-based organizations offering summer programming for children and youth. Click here for descriptions and schedules of summer camp options (in a variety of languages) and to access the summer camp choice form. 
Lyman Moore Middle School is spearheading an effort to hold a Model United Nations conference for middle schools during the next school year. 
Moore’s Model United Nation’s team held a small, hybrid pilot conference this year, chaired by Bates College Model U.N. student leaders. “The plan is to roll out the conference to other middle schools next year and have the conference take place in person,” said social studies teacher David Hilton, who co-chairs theMoore Model United Nations Team with English teacher Tyler Jellison. Learn more about this initiative here.
It has been a long and challenging school year for students. To congratulate students on their hard-work and determination at the end of the school year, the Red Sox are offering a special $9 Student Rate for tickets this weekend, May 29 and 30! Tickets can be ordered at this link and please use the promo code: WAITISOVER.
The Portland Public Schools is excited to be offering the Teach Portland program this summer! Teach Portland is a summer program that seeks to build interest in the teaching profession and increase the diversity of teachers in Maine. Teach Portland provides an opportunity for participants to experience teaching firsthand in one of our summer learning classrooms, to receive a stipend for participating in the program, and to access optional professional development activities. Read more and access the application here.
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