I hope this letter finds you all well and enjoying this beautiful Maine weather. I send out a summer letter each year at this time to inform families of the school's organization as the start of the year approaches. This year in particular has required some careful and strategic planning.
During this time of concern over COVID-19, we can count ourselves lucky in Maine that current conditions are favorable, and cases are declining. The decision of our school community to open early and take full advantage of this advantageous time has proven to be a wise one. We will benefit from open widows and much time spent outdoors during these early weeks of school. Of course, we cannot predict the future, but we can at least be thankful for this present state. I know you join me in extending the best wishes for the same decline of the COVID-19 virus to follow throughout the country and world.
Since the reopening of the school on May 20, 2020, we have had the opportunity to experience operating within the safety recommendations of the CDC. This practical experience has been invaluable, and we have been able to see first hand how adaptable the children have been to these new practices and protocols. They are so ecstatic to reunite with their friends that wearing a mask has proved a small consolation to make to achieve that end. The children who attended the Summer Camp program reinforced our confidence that operating during COVID is possible in our small school environment. Bravo to our Summer Camp Counselors for providing such a fun and enriching summer experience!!
In preparation for the start of the school year, we have been carefully considering how we can implement the CDC and Maine CDC recommendations to the fullest extent possible. We ask that you assist us by encouraging your child to wear a mask outside of school, as is recommended by the medical professionals for the prevention of the spread of the virus. It is a small thing we can all do that has a tremendous impact on all. Some of our camp parents told us their child was excited to pick out a mask, and if you can help them get used to it before school starts, it will be a smooth transition to school. The Maine CDC recommends students age five and above and all staff wear masks. We are not insisting the children wear a mask when outdoors, but if you wish your child to do so, please let us know. Preschoolers under age five are encouraged to wear a mask indoors, but this rule is not strictly enforced if they are very reluctant to wear one. Our experience so far is that they have accepted it very well in most instances. Furthermore, we have purchased masks for the staff that were designed for the deaf and hard of hearing, which have a sizable clear insert allowing the children to see the teachers' mouths and facial expressions. This will undoubtedly be beneficial in language learning and will be comforting to the children to see their teachers' faces; we learn so much from watching people speak, much more than we may realize.
In line with CDC recommendations, we are going to be spreading the children throughout the school building as much as possible. This means utilizing all available spaces.
The school organization is as follows:
Early Childhood Program: The smallest children will remain in their age groups, and we are dividing the Early Childhood differently this year to achieve the maximum division of the children. Preschool-age children are not required to strictly social distance per se; it is recognized that they need to be able to interact with each other, role-play and socialize. Instead, they will be kept in their immediate classroom groups when indoors to limit interaction amongst the children to small numbers.
We have hired 2 Assistantes Maternelles, Katie and Tania, to help the Lead Teachers. We have also hired a third person, Sydney, whom many of you met through our Summer Camp Program. Sydney will be helping throughout as needed and with the Aftercare Program. We are happy to introduce these new staff members to you and to welcome them into our team.
We are also thrilled to announce that Amy Johansen
has accepted the position of English Language Arts teacher. Some of you already know Amy from her role at EFDM as a certified Orton Gillingham reading tutor. Amy brings her years of experience as an Elementary Classroom Teacher and her specialized training in teaching reading to the school, as well as her kind and caring nature. Welcome, Amy! We are so happy to see you expand your role at EFDM!!!
Please click here
to see the bios of our staff!
Classroom 1: Toute Petite Section/Petite Section (age 2.5 - 3)
Lead PS Teacher (& Schoolwide Art Teacher): Dasha Betts
Assistante Maternelle: Katie Solomon
Classroom 2: Moyenne/Grande Section - Pre-K and Kindergarten (ages 4-5)
Assistante Maternelle: Tania Lapika
Classroom 3: Grande Section/ CP: Kindergarten/Grade 1
Classroom 4: CP/CE1- Grades 1-2
English Language Arts Teacher: Amy Johansen
Classroom 5: Grades 3,4,5 (downstairs classroom)
English Language Arts Teacher: Amy Johansen
Virtual Learning Support Teacher:
In the event a child becomes sick and will be absent for an extended period or needs to quarantine at home after exposure to COVID-19, Fanny will provide tutoring to help the student keep up with classroom lessons. Fanny will coordinate directly with the child's teacher(s) and will offer Zoom sessions to help the student until they can return to school. This will be provided case by case, and an individual plan will be designed to assist the student during their period of absence.
Office Manager and Childcare Director:
Emily will continue to be your "go-to" person for just about everything, and if she can't help you, she will get you to the person who can! Emily handles all school files, emergency forms, vaccination records, etc., and as our Childcare Center Director, she is familiar with all CDC protocols and best practices. When in doubt, ask Emily!
Curriculum Coordinator MENJS, MLF, AEFE
Victorien will continue to serve as the school's Curriculum Coordinator. He leads the staff in the implementation of the French Curriculum and provides leadership and mentoring to the teachers. He coordinates and communicates with the AEFE and MLF to provide professional development for the staff. If you have questions about the classroom curriculum, first, ask your child's teacher, of course, but also know you can count on Victorien to help. Thank you, Victorien, for your professional contributions to the school in this role.
How will school look this fall?
Floor markings and signage have been installed to assist with social distancing and to indicate one-way directions for entering and exiting the school. Access to the school building will be limited to essential workers and students.
In the elementary classrooms, each child will have a desk, and all desks will face in one direction as the CDC recommends. Children will have their own materials, and social distancing will be practiced.
We will be putting up our large event tent to create an outdoor classroom space. This space will have 4 large 8 foot tables for lunch and for class activities. The outdoor classroom will be utilized by all classes at different times for a variety of activities, weather permitting.
Construction has also begun in the house next to the school where an additional classroom space and unisex bathroom will provide another option for many activities such as reading groups, instrumental music lessons and more. This additional space, once finished, will be an excellent addition to the campus. There will be a ramp and entry facing the playground for easy access.
Extra cleaning routines are established, and hand washing is frequent. School water fountains are off-limits, and we will eat outdoors as much as possible, or at individual desks in the classrooms, per CDC recommendations, when lunch outdoors is not an option. We ask that you please send food that the children can manage easily and as independently as possible.
A full description of our protocols is included below. Please review this document carefully to become familiar with the drop-off/pick up procedures and other guidelines.
Finally, should the school have to close for some time due to COVID-19, we will not revert to virtual learning. Instead, we plan to add in-person school days to the end of the school calendar. However, if during that closure families need childcare, we plan to offer this service. As long as there is enough interest, we plan to remain open as a childcare center to support our working parents/essential workers. This childcare will be a separate service, not school, and will not be a substitute for the school calendar days. We will also offer vacation camps.
In closing, I want to say how happy I am to see so many families coming back to school; your trust in us at this difficult time is not something I take for granted. I also extend the warmest welcome to the many new families joining our school community this year. Some families are just starting in the Maternelle, and others are joining us from other French Schools in the network. We are so delighted to have all of your children at L'Ecole Française du Maine!
My best regards and wishes for good health to all,
Founder and Head of School