Message from Pender Makin
Dear Heroes of Public Education,
As you may be aware, Governor Mills and some members of the COVID response team will be providing further details of the phase-in model by which we hope to re-open our state’s economy at a press briefing today at 3:00. The plan will continue to provide limits on sizes of group gatherings while identifying certain criteria that would indicate readiness for some businesses to begin to open their doors as public health and safety permits. Certain summer and tourist industries will likely be included as examples, and this may prompt questions and/or pressure from your constituents regarding summer school programs, athletics, end-of-year celebrations, and use of school facilities for various summer programs. Today’s announcement applies to businesses, and not to school programs; it is important to note that our recommendation, provided April 7, to continue remote learning plans for the remainder of the school year still stands.
I want to assure you that we are holding to our promise to provide you with the most updated information as we receive it. We also want to ensure that you are not left without support as you continue to make decisions and address the concerns within your communities. We continue to curate the most updated guidance from national and state sources on when and how to reconvene in-person instruction, and we will provide you with recommendations based on science and public health indicators.
Businesses will have the option of opening, and customers will have the option of entering/participating, but school is a compulsory activity with extremely complex considerations, and therefore decisions around opening schools to in-person activities merit a higher standard of safety assurances.
Tomorrow at 5:00, we’ll be convening a planning process with leaders of representative stakeholder groups, including MSSA, MPA, MEA, MADSEC, MCLA and key DOE staff members. We will be developing a framework with the following domains: physiological health and safety; social/emotional / mental health; engagement and connectedness; and academic learning. For each of these, we’ll include considerations for: critical decision points; equity; and logistics and resources needed.
In coming weeks, we will need your input and ideas as we build this framework out to include the many necessary details (such as are included in the attached VERY comprehensive examples that were sent to us yesterday). As always, please feel free to share your thoughts with us, and know that we will get through this together.
We are all in the unenviable task of trying to predict the future, with the health and well-being of all we serve in the balance. I continue to be grateful for your continued leadership and compassion in the face of this crisis.