On behalf of L'Ecole Française du Maine, best wishes to you and yours for a very happy and healthy holiday season.
December 23, 2020

This newsletter again lists the current travel policy for Winter Break, December 21-Jan 1 with school resuming on Monday, January 4th. Please familiarize yourself with our current protocols in place, and be prepared to note any updates that may come in the weeks ahead. Some revisions have been made, so please read carefully.

Another travel survey has been created to gauge the plans of our school community during the winter break. We were so grateful to get a snap-shot of what to expect from families in terms of their Thanksgiving plans. Please complete the winter break survey here.

In lieu of our traditional December School Winter Performance, some classrooms have been very hard at work putting together virtually enjoyed alternatives to the usual singing and dancing. We'll be sharing their masterpieces within the next few newsletters! This week: Marie's MS/GS class!

Thanks to all who attended our first ever Ice Arena Friday! If you could not attend this time, we'll be going again!

As always, please reach out to Emily in the office with any questions: office@frenchschool.me
Winter Break Travel Policy
We would like all families to be reminded of our Community Pledge.

We are also asking all families to please disclose their winter break plans in the following survey.

Traveling increases risk, and it is strongly recommended that holiday celebrations take place within your immediate family household this year.

Holiday Celebrations and Travel
  • The CDC continues to strongly recommend that we avoid holiday travel this year
  • The CDC also strongly recommends that we all stay within our households, i.e. the people we currently live with.

School Policy to Return After Holidays:

  • Families and staff who avoid travel and stay within pods may return to school without quarantine or testing.

  • Families and staff who choose to travel and/or mix with those outside their household** (visiting or hosting) must do one of the following to return to school:

  1. Get a PCR test on the 5th day following your return from travel or your last day of mixing and return with the negative result
  2. Quarantine 10 days following your return from travel or your last day of mixing. (This has been revised from the original 14 day quarantine recommendation to be in accordance with the most recent CDC and Maine CDC guidelines)

**There is no way to confirm that people we encounter during travel or outside our households in holiday gatherings do not have the virus, so we have to err on the side of caution - finding out after a return to school is too risky and could seriously threaten our entire community.

As an example, looking ahead at the upcoming break and a timeline to return safely on January 4, we have:

-December 26 - last day of travel/mixing
-December 31 - get PCR test
-January 2 or 3 - receive result
-January 4 - return to school

Although current state policy deems a few select states as being exempt, our school policy will now be that any family who travels to meet with or hosts anyone from outside their immediate household/pod will be required to perform a 5-day quarantine post travel/exposure, followed by a negative PCR test in order to return to school. Given the degree of community spread of coronavirus in Maine, we can no longer use travel outside the state as the determining factor.

If opting to travel, it is recommended you schedule travel-related testing as soon as possible to ensure a safe and timely return to school. If you have any questions regarding how your family plans match up with these protocols, please do not hesitate to ask us - preferably BEFORE you travel.
COVID Testing Information
The School thanks School Parent and Physician, Lisa Lucas, DO, for this informative feature article on testing during this rise in COVID 19. Thanks to all for reading and following her advice closely in the best interest of our entire community. Be safe, be well, and we will see you in the new year!

L’ecole Francaise du Maine updated its travel guidelines and we ask you all to consider your risk before school resumes on January 4th, 2021. If your family is traveling for the holidays or hosting guests outside of your immediate pod, you will need to choose between a 10-day quarantine or SARS CoV2 PCR testing before your child can return to school.
This PCR test will need to be at least 5 days after possible exposure. Please plan accordingly as testing accommodations can be difficult to arrange and will be in high demand after the holidays.
We are experiencing a surge in Maine. As we move forward and there is more community
spread, we are all at higher risk of coming in contact with a COVID19 + (SARS CoV2 +) person in Maine. Of note, COVID+ persons are likely contagious 48-72 hours before they begin to show symptoms. Please consider our community with decisions regarding testing and school attendance even if you are not traveling out of the state. Here are a few helpful tools when navigating testing and care.

Who needs to quarantine?
● People who have been in close contact with anyone with COVID 19

● What counts as a "close contact"?
○ You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
○ You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
○ You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
○ You shared eating or drinking utensils
○ They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

● When can I break my quarantine?
○ 10 days since onset of symptoms ​and
○ 24 hours without a fever ​and
○ other symptoms of COVID improving
● OR, if asymptomatic, you can be tested on Day 5 after exposure and stop quarantine after Day 7 if negative.
● If you've had COVID19, there is no need to test or quarantine again within 3 months.

When do I need to test?
● When you have a close contact with a COVID19 (+) person
 ● When you travel and expose yourself to people outside your immediate pod
● When you are having symptoms

Why PCR and not rapid antigen tests? Simply put, not all tests are created equal.
PCR, polymerase chain reaction, is considered the gold standard method. It works by detecting the SARS CoV2 virus’s genetic material (DNA). PCR amplifies the DNA material for improved detection and takes a minimum of 6 hours though results can take up to 7 days.
Antigen tests are faster, usually producing results in 15 minutes similar to a strep or pregnancy test. These tests are detecting antigen, specific proteins on the SARS CoV2 virus, and therefore, best suited in symptomatic patients. Antigen tests are highly specific in that if it is positive, we can rely on that result. There is a higher chance of false negatives. Antibody tests are not appropriate for initial diagnosis.

Where can I get a test in Maine?
● Your physician’s office - If sent directly, turnaround time is 1-2 days
● If your physician is not offering testing, please refer to the Maine CDC for testing sites. https://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy/testing
● “Swab and send” - This means this site offers testing without a physician’s order. They will be sent to the state (HETL) lab with a 3-7 day turnaround (varies).

When do I get tested after possible exposure?
● PCR testing should be at least 5 days after exposure.
Ideal time to test between day 5 and 7.

When is an antigen test appropriate?
● When you are symptomatic and you need answers quickly to start isolating and
contacting others
● Not appropriate screening test after possible exposure
Thank you to all the families for your continued vigilance. We are all sacrificing to keep our children safe and protect their ability to learn and grow amidst this chaos.

From our family to yours, happy holidays.
Mom to Sophie, Henry and Oliver

Un éléphant qui se balançait
With a year of limited singing in the school, the MS and GS students were happy to learn this tune to present for the winter "performance" this year! Merci beaucoup Marie for your daily efforts in practicing this song and merci Victorien for your musical accompaniment!
Updates from the Classrooms
PS students are taking turns "feeding" their classroom "monster" the shapes he prefers, as well as classifying all sorts of items by shape! Bravo les petits!
MS/GS students hope you enjoy their performance of a song they've been practicing in class! Don't miss the link to view included above in this newsletter!
GS/CP have certainly done their part to decorate their classroom and the school hallway with winter related wonders. Merci les enfants!
CP et CE1 students played a game of vocabulary each taking turns as the presenter. They also were proud to send off a bunch of classroom made thank-you notes to healthcare workers in France, with thanks to the Handler family !
CE2, CM1, & CM2 students impressed the whole school with their super cool display of fancy woven winter sweaters for their artistic characters this week!
Implicit Bias: Peanut Butter, Jelly and Racism
This New York Times and PBS video created in 2016 is more relevant than ever.
In the video, experts explain how implicit bias develops using the example of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The video explains that implicit bias is not the same as racism, but it is just as important to understand and dismantle.
"Implicit biases are basically thought processes that happen without you even knowing it, little mental shortcuts that hold judgments you might not agree with, and sometimes the short cuts are based on race," Reshamwala narrates in the intro of his video titled "Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Racism."
Who, me? Biased? ... more to come ...
Annual Appeal 2020 - 8 days left to reach our goal
Thank you to all who have contributed- we have had a very successful appeal this year!
So far we have raised $21,000 of our goal of $30,000. Merci beaucoup!!!!

There is still time to give, the Appeal is running through December 31, 2020.
Every donation, large or small, makes a difference and is deeply appreciated!

Each year we ask our friends to consider contributing L'Ecole Française du Maine in their charitable giving. Your contribution can support the Mission of the School in many ways, like direct program support, building and facility improvements, or to provide financial aid to students in need of assistance.
Window in the past ... just for fun
October 2002, Portland, Maine. Jean-David Levitte, Ambassador of France to the United Nations (2000-2002) and to the United States (2002-2007) met with Willy and Elizabeth LeBihan to discuss the creation of l'Ecole Française du Maine.