The Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

PARIS — SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts informed parents that all the schools in the district will remain closed through the end of the school year. The announcement was made in a letter sent out on Wednesday.

April vacation, scheduled for Apr. 20-24, will be held as usual, giving students and staff a break from distance learning. The district has applied for a waiver with Maine Department of Education to allow continued bus route delivery of meals during the school break but it has not yet been approved.

“Per Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin’s recommendation, with Governor Mills’ approval of that recommendation, Oxford Hills School District will be preparing for remote learning for the remainder of the school year,” Colpitts said in the letter.

“For the last three weeks the Oxford Hills community of teachers, students and parents have been participating in a sprint of sorts” wrote Colpitts. “…With little opportunity to train and prepare in hopes that the sprint would end shortly. Learning packets, online extensions of learning, frequent communications between students, parents and teachers and hundreds of bus stop food deliveries all were put in place over a very short period of time for a sprint that we thought would last just a few weeks. It is now apparent that this is not a sprint but a marathon.”

He said that administrators and educators are turning their attention to a plan for remote education that will best engage students during an unprecedented pandemic. Key to the effort will be ways to provide feedback to support their independent learning.

Colpitts applauded the effort that administrators, staff and faculty made on behalf of students since schools closed on March 18.

“Our students are learning, being fed, and kept engaged,” he wrote in a letter to parents on Apr. 3. “We mailed over 1,000 packets of learning and prepared and served 33,000 meals over the last two weeks. I’ve laughed with our students as I watched brave teachers reach out with creative rap songs, poems and dance moves on YouTube clips.

“Our staff and students are re-imagining learning and finding new opportunities in the face of this fearful virus.  I am so thankful for each of you and the efforts you are engaged in each and every day.”

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