Nine Maine school districts have been awarded over $2 million to run remote learning pilot programs aimed at engaging students and reimagining education in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The awards were announced Wednesday by the Maine Department of Education and are being funded through a $16.9 million federal grant.

Maine has launched the Rethinking Remote Education Venture with the funds and is offering innovation classes to educators who will have the opportunity to get funding for pilot projects that could be replicated in schools around the state.

“I am so proud of these innovative educators who are piloting new, whole child approaches to learning,” said Commissioner of Education Pender Makin in a news release. “They are courageous leaders who are paving the way to even better opportunities for Maine’s students, and we look forward to supporting additional education visionaries with training and support during this rare opportunity to re-imagine our centuries old system of education.”

Once fully developed, the pilots could have an impact on over 13,000 students in the first of several rounds of funding the state plans to distribute through July 2023.

The pilots will focus on all types of education that might occur outside the traditional brick and mortar classroom, such as outdoor learning, online learning and alternative methods such as partnerships with community colleges or other organizations.

They include the addition of a full-time outdoor learning coordinator and outdoor classroom in a yurt in the Oxford Hills School District, and the introduction of a nature-based pre-K program in Camden-based School Administrative District 28.

In Brewer, the district will create a remote learning program for seventh- through 12th-grade students to ensure that those who don’t thrive with in-person instruction, are easily distracted or have at-home responsibilities that conflict with school still have access to high quality education.

And in North Berwick-based School Administrative District 60, staff are creating a wellness program for students who will be part of Noble Virtual Middle School to ensure they stay connected to teachers and peers while choosing to learn remotely.

Other districts and schools to receive funding are Regional School Unit 89 in Stacyville; Mt. Blue High School and Foster Technology School in Farmington; Harpswell Coastal Academy in Harpswell and Brunswick; the St. George Municipal School Unit; and School Union 76 in Deer Isle.


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