PORTLAND —  City schools will remain closed to the public through April school vacation in a effort to keep the coronavirus from spreading throughout the student body and community.

The schools had been set to reopen next Monday, but late last week Superintendent Xavier Botana extended the closure until Monday, April 27.

“As the number of COVID-19 cases in Maine continues to rise and there is evidence of community transmission of the virus, it has become clear that our original two-week closure is insufficient to help keep our students and staff safe. Depending on circumstances, it’s possible that this time period may need to be extended,” Superintendent Xaxier Botana wrote in a March 20 letter to parents and community members.

I also will stress again that this latest decision has been made with careful consideration. Closing schools is a hardship for all families, particularly for our most disadvantaged community members. However, we believe this extended closure is necessary to protect everyone’s health,” Botana said in the letter. 

Students will continue to work remotely. Elementary school students have been given packets for English, math, science that include daily lessons of 30 to 40 minutes, as well as online art, music and physical education instruction on the day they have those classes. Beginning this week, all middle and high school classes are being taught through Google classroom. Special education teachers, social workers and guidance councilors will regularly interact with students as well, according to the school department.

Breakfast and lunch will continue to be distributed between 10 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday at Deering High School, East End Community School, King Middle School, Lyman Moore Middle School, Peaks Island Elementary School, Presumpscot Elementary School, Riverton Elementary School, Rowe Elementary School and, starting this week, Portland High School. Students do not need to qualify for free/reduced lunch or be city residents to get meals.

Families can also get Grab-and-Go meals from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Boys and Girls Clubs on Cumberland Avenue, Riverton Park and Sagamore Village in Portland and at the club on Broadway in South Portland.

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