SCARBOROUGH — The Board of Education approved the Scarborough School District’s Distance Learning Plan on April 2, as Covid-19 has forced students to continue their education from home.

Monique Culbertson, the central office administrator, said that the Maine Department of Education is requiring all local school boards to approve these plans.

As the situation regarding most of Covid-19-related cancellations has been uncertain, Superintendent Sanford Prince said that he’s been proud of staff for working in a quick and collaborative manner.

“I just want to remind everyone that for many years, hundreds of years, students have gone to a building for school and all of a sudden that stopped in this country,” he said. “Now we’re doing remote learning. We’ve had very little time to plan for that and we’ve learned a lot going through this. We know there’s going to be bumps and hiccups, but I have to say it’s been collaborative and it’s been good work and I know for a fact that people are working incredibly hard. Our teachers were put in a tough position but they’ve made the best of it.”

On March 20, Sanford had announced that schools would be closed until April 26, meaning students would have to continue learning from their homes.

The three goals included in the Distance Learning Plan are reducing the spread of infectious disease through social distancing and facilities cleaning, providing continuity of instruction for all students, and ensuring the continued health and well-being of all students, including food insecurity.

Culbertson said that students in kindergarten through fifth grade have received Chromebooks in order to access online tools. The district had distributed over 1,000 devices.

Families with home internet difficulties can contact [email protected], she said. The district is also assessing students’ wireless internet access.

For the week of March 23, 93 percent of all kindergarten through eighth graders completed reading lessons and 95 percent completed math lessons, said Culbertson.

Assignments have taken longer to complete, as working from home offers limited modes of communication, and many people are still trying to figure out technology, she said. Personal challenges like family stress and child care can also be factors.

The board also discussed grading, which Culbertson say may have to change during the rest of the school year. Board Member Hillory Durgin said that children who aren’t able to complete work shouldn’t be judged for the time.

She said she believed it was fine for the board to approve the learning plan as a fluid document, not a finished piece.

Culbertson said that for high school GPAs, seniors would be unaffected, but there have been conversations about how to calculate GPAs for juniors and below. She added that college admissions are not planning to penalize students on one semester out of eight.

“They understand this is a global pandemic and our students will not be affected by these issues,” she said.

Another challenge presented was the fact that while school closures are temporary, the length of the closure is still shifting.

“You never plan that your entire community is going to be in a quarantined situation or isolated,” said Chair Leanne Kazilionis. “So the fact that we have something so quickly and so robust and well thought-out, thank you guys.”

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