April 27, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff,

I want to welcome our students back from their April break. Though the routine we are resuming is not our typical school-day schedule, hopefully we are returning to find you all in good health and ready to engage with your teachers and school community again.  I have seen examples across grade levels of interesting activities and connections to the broader world we all live in. I have also seen enthusiasm from children and adults as we return to what has become our new normal. The following includes a few general updates regarding our District plan during this continuation of school building closure.


Commissioner Makin stated in the April 7 Priority Notice, we would encourage SAUs and regions to discuss and determine a system that holds harmless students for whom conditions are outside of their control.  On April 22 the Maine DOE released this Unified Message and Recommendation Regarding Grading Practices During Emergency Distance Learning. We are further called upon to ensure that the practice we establish during this period as best as possible prevents any further learning inequitiesWe all understand that there will be gaps in learning as a result of the disruption caused by the COVID closure of school buildings, and the launch and implementation of remote learning.  Teachers are currently recording participation for students in grades K-8. Students in grades 9-12 will receive a Pass or Incomplete, based on participation.  For the purpose of identifying student learning needs, the District will develop a plan to assess student progress and respond with some form of academic intervention. In regard to evaluation of learning, students are and should continue to receive feedback from their teachers—this likely is happening through those daily interactions that occur during a teacher’s office hours, or any other forum through which conversations about learning and experiences occur. 

Graduation and Other Student Recognition Events

This is an incredibly exciting period of time in a young person’s life—a time when a young adult turns from their childhood to face their future, and it is our hope that they are met with possibilities, the resources to pursue them, and the persistence to realize them.  As our school calendar goes, we intend to organize and celebrate those special events that have long marked this rite of passage for students. The Lawrence High School Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremony will occur on June 4 in some form. Mr. Bowers has met, and will continue to meet, with the senior class as they collectively discuss some options for a virtual commencement ceremony. School staff are also working together to develop contingency plans for other virtual celebrations, including Grade 8 Celebration, 6th Grade Recognition Evening, virtual summer school options, and transition plans for when students and staff return to school buildings.  More information will be forthcoming on these plans as they become finalized. Though our hope would be that we are able to offer in person celebrations, this is looking to be highly unlikely.


As recently stated by Commissioner Makin, this is “emergency education” and our priorities are the health and safety of our students, their social and emotional well-being while ensuring opportunities for learning to continue from home. We will continue to work through these next few months to refine the learning format and plan for students’ re-entry next school year. Please know that our staff are here to support the children of our school community—we will do all that we can so that they may continue to thrive and grow.


Stay safe and be well.

Roberta Hersom

MSAD 49 Superintendent of Schools