April 1st, 2021

Bonjour,

How wonderful to feel spring in the air this week! Classes had extra fun running around the sunny playground, and some groups even brought out their books and returned to work at the outdoor work tables, with our big tent soon to be reinstalled for the warmer days ahead.

Updates, including new effective exemptions to our travel and gathering policy are detailed below. Please be sure to familiarize yourself with these new policies and reach out with any questions or clarifications if necessary-- keeping in mind plans for April Vacation 19th-23rd: L'Ecole will be closed with no camp offered at this time due to insufficient interest.

Also included below, a quick glimpse for those who like a plan ahead-- a change for 2021-2022 in how you may enroll and pay for garderie (regular before & aftercare services).

Enrollment for Summer Camp 2021 remains open at this time, with some age groups and weeks filling up quickly! Camp days have French activities in the morning, with crafts and games throughout the afternoon. The camp will take place outdoors as much as possible on our expansive playground, shady forest, and beneath the learning tent behind La Maison. For more info and to enroll for a week (or two or ten!), be sure to check out the newly updated website.

As always, please reach out to Emily in the office with any questions: office@frenchschool.me
Planning Ahead? A look to garderie in 2021-2022...
If you have already enrolled for the 2021-2022 school year and intend to be a frequent user of our garderie program (before and aftercare), take a look at the following form for prepayment options.

Recognizing that working families require consistent aftercare, L'Ecole Française du Maine will begin offering a 25% discounted rate for full-time prepaid garderie enrollment starting 2021-2022. We intend to help families who depend on their child's regular attendance in extended day hours all through the school year. This discounted rate does not replace the "a la carte" hourly option, which is still available if preferred. The $10/hr "a la carte" option for aftercare is billed monthly and does not require prepayment. We do appreciate advance notice if possible if your child requires extended day services, but we understand sometimes the need arises unexpectedly. Follow this link to read more details and see the various options that may cover any need!
April Vacation, just around the corner...
Due to lack of interest to meet the minimum required enrollment, the decision has been made to not offer an April Vacation childcare camp for the week of April 19-23rd.

We encourage the few families with childcare needs for that week to seek alternate safe means of assistance as necessary and be sure to read the recently updated travel/gathering policy below, reaching out to office@frenchschool.me with any questions.
UPDATED Travel / Gathering Policy
We are pleased to report that most of the staff at school are now partially vaccinated! Although it may feel like we are turning a corner when it comes to the pandemic, we want to urge all community members to remain cautious and perform their due diligence to maintain the safety of our school at large. As we sadly observed the first anniversary of the pandemic in Maine, we would like all families to be reminded of our Community Pledge.

  • For those seeking to be vaccinated as soon as possible, be sure to pre-register and read more information at https://vaccinateme.maine.gov/. The planned schedule presently has all Mainers 16+ eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by April 19, 2021.

The current protocols will remain for anyone traveling/gathering outside of their household (traveling/gathering is strongly discouraged).

  • Families and staff who avoid travel and stay within pods using safety measures such as distancing/masking may continue to attend 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 a 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 per the most recent CDC and Maine CDC guidelines)

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 to return to school. Given the degree of community spread of coronavirus in Maine, we can no longer 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 these protocols, please do not hesitate to ask us - preferably before you travel/gather.

NEW EXEMPTIONS effective immediately:
  • Families that travel to Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, or Vermont AND DO NOT mix with other households.
  • Interactions with family members that recently had COVID-19 (within 3 months) or have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (2 weeks after the final vaccine), regardless of their state of origin from the test or quarantine requirement. 

Distancing and masking:
As a Maine Licensed Childcare Center, we follow the directives of the CDC and Maine CDC. Current rules recommend mask wearing for all children ages 2 to 4 and mandate masks for children ages 5 and over. These are the current rules, but we do expect they will evolve. As soon as the CDC/Maine CDC and/or our Medical Advisors' recommendations relax the guidelines, we will update our mask policy.

Maine Adopts Age-Based Approach to COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility 
The State of Maine has updated its vaccination plan to reflect emerging science, progress in vaccinating its oldest residents and increasing vaccine supply. The planned schedule, which is subject to change depending on fluctuations in vaccine supply, including an acceleration if supply increases, is as follows:

  • March: Eligibility to all school and childcare staff
  • April: Eligibility expands to age 50 and older 
  • May: Eligibility expands to age 40 and older 
  • June: Eligibility expands to age 30 and older 
  • July and beyond: Eligibility expands to ages 29 and under, including youth and children pending authorization of age-appropriate vaccines 

These protocols were developed and revised by Dr. Gaetane Michaud, MD, Pulmonary Critical Care, USF Tampa, and parent at the French American School of Tampa Bay and by parents at l'Ecole Française du Maine: Dr. James Gallea, MD, Emergency Medicine Specialist, and Dr. Lisa Lucas, DO Primary Care Physician.
Welcome Jacob!
Please join us in welcoming Jacob to the Teaching Team at L'Ecole Française du Maine! Jacob will be assisting in the Kindergarten classroom with Victorien for the remainder of this school year. Then, he will be working through the summer as a Camp Counselor in our Summer Camp Program.

Returning for his senior year in the fall of 2021, Jacob will stay on call as a substitute teacher while finishing his degree. Jacob studies French Linguistics with an English minor at the University of Southern Maine. In 2019, his French language and culture passion grew exponentially following a 2-month work exchange program in France, where he immersed himself, staying with multiple hosts across the country. Having since been part of the French tutoring program at his university, his desire and appreciation for teaching have grown. He hopes to continue sharing and pursuing his passion while influencing the younger generation.

Eiffel Tower's new location
Paris has approved moving the Eiffel tower to a new location to get ready for the 2024 Olympic Games. Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has just announced its new location at the top of Champs-Elysées! For sure, it will make for a grandiose arrivée of the last leg of the Tour de France! Students will study the impressive construction in class, due to start this month.
Wesleyan Bilingualism Study!
Dear Parents of French-English bilingual children, 
My name is Danielle Gozzo. I am a senior undergraduate student at Wesleyan University and a research assistant in Wesleyan's Cognitive Development Lab. I am running a study about bilingualism and moral decision-making in children. I am writing to provide you with some information about this study to decide if it might be right for your child to participate. 
We are looking for French-English bilingual children in the age range of 4-6 to participate in this study. It's okay if your child is not balanced in their two languages or is more dominant in one language than the other. They do need to be able to follow a story in either of their languages.
To set up a time to participate in the study, please email dgozzo@wesleyan.edu
My faculty supervisor is Professor Anna Shusterman ashusterman@wesleyan.edu
She can answer any questions or concerns. If you would feel more comfortable having a native French speaker present to answer your questions during the study, please let me know when you email me so we can plan to do so.
Thank you for taking the time to read about this study. I hope to hear from you soon!
Sincerely, Danielle Gozzo
School Calendar 2021-2022- UPDATED
We previously included an error in the schedule of February Vacation 2022 in the shared planned calendar for the next school year. Please download the corrected version here and our apologies for any confusion! February Vacation will be on February 21-25th, 2022.
Bilingual Summer Camp
Some forward-thinking parents have recently inquired about this summer's camp plans at L'Ecole. We are so excited to say that we are planning on hosting summer camp again this year!

Starting up on June 7th (one full week off after this year's last day of school) and going through until August 13th (with one week before next year's first day), families are welcome to enroll by the weeks of their choosing.

Please read more via the school's webpage for details and enrollment forms while planning your 2021 summer.
Updates from the Classrooms
After the week of the "chenille" in the PS room, "les papillons" are emerging!
MS and GS students are busy creating an heirloom book of animals that encompasses many days of creation and skills they've been honing this year in fine motor.
Le Printemps may not yet be in the air everyday, but it certainly is on our artwork! Be sure to check out artsonia for some hopeful creations of warmer days ahead.
Elodie's CE1 class proudly display their animal facts projects they've been hard at work developing!
From careful solo writing to brainstorming together, CE2, CM1, and CM2 students have become quite adept at individual, group, and presentation work this year!
Bilingualism
According to the Associated Press, in 2001, up to 66 percent of the world’s children were raised bilingual. As bilingualism has become more common, it grew into a popular academic research topic. Numerous studies concurred that speaking multiple languages brings many benefits in brain development, social skills, and economic advantages.
The Cognitive Advantages of Bilingualism
To refer, explain, or describe any concept or object, bilingual people know more than one word. It leads them to view the world with greater complexity and more creativity.
Moreover, depending on the language they are using, they must constantly select which word to use and which one to ignore. This recurring mental gymnastics produces more gray matter in the brain's region called the inferior parietal cortex that is home to learning and memory skills. More gray matter means better focus and increased memory. Concretely, students can better tune out background noise, such as classroom chatting, other distractions. As such, they are more on task and perform better in educational settings. This capacity to suppress a word or thought in one language teaches the bilingual brain to deal with conflicting demands. This is why bilingual people are better at prioritizing and switching tasks.
Besides, the mental juggling in your brain appears to have long-term advantages by delaying the effects of Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases by 4-5 years.
Associated with those numerous cognitive advantages are social and cultural benefits developed by bilingual people.
 The Social Benefits of Bilingualism
Knowing a second language allows you to communicate with others and become friends with people from different backgrounds and cultures. You gain a linguistic skill and discover the history and culture of different countries and regions of the world. You become more knowledgeable, open-minded, and culturally aware. You have more incentives and opportunities to travel. You learn to navigate different cultures and social cues. You become more comfortable being out of your comfort zone, you are better able to adapt. At the same time, exposure to a different culture makes you more aware of your own. It helps grow your self-esteem and boost your confidence.
When learning another language, you need to become very much attuned to the tone of voice, its pitch. You have to be a good listener. Additionally, the cognitive ability to tune out one language helps bilingual individuals temporarily suppress their feelings. The combination of those two skills allows them to be more empathetic by focusing on their interlocutors.
So, bilingualism improves cognitive abilities and helps individuals develop soft skills that are highly valued by businesses. It translates into economic advantages.
 The Economic Benefits of Bilingualism
According to a 2018 study by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, “Nine out of Ten U.S. employers report a reliance on U.S.-based employees with language skills other than English.” “A majority of employers report that their need for foreign languages has increased over the past five years and project that it will continue to grow.”
These needs emphasize the marketability of bilingual employees. Moreover, a Swiss survey shows that bilingual employees are less likely to go into economic downturns, despite having a higher remuneration. Indeed, U.S. studies cited in the Economic Advantages of Bilingualism Literature Review found that individuals who studied foreign languages at the university level gained higher wages, “even when controlling for factors such as education level, family background, and cognitive ability.” Recruiters recognize the linguistic, cognitive, and social benefits of bilingualism and are ready to reward those skills financially.
In addition to the apparent linguistic edge of speaking several languages, bilingualism studies identified more subtle advantages, such as increased interpersonal skills, more creative thinking, better focus, and memory, as well as other soft-skills. As Gigi Luk, an associate professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, puts it, “bilingualism is an experience that shapes our brain for a lifetime,” a lifetime of benefits.
2020 Article published by the French American School of Princeton, NJ.
Window to the past ... just for fun
June 15, 2012, L'Ecole Française du Maine Graduation Ceremony at South Freeport Community Hall. Commencement Speaker, Richard Ortoli, spoke to the audience about the value of learning more than one language. He congratulated the parents for deciding to send their students to L'Ecole Française du Maine. Richard Ortoli is a founding partner of the law firm Sanders Ortoli Vaughn-Flam Rosenstadt LLP on Madison Avenue in New York City. Hopefully, in 2022, the school will resume this great tradition.