Countdown to Re-Opening:  21 Days and counting!

Dear Woodside Families,

  First, let me start by saying this: we may not have all the answers today, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t working hard to figure them out.  So, while I’ll try to address what I can below, please know that some decisions are still in progress, and so much of the work we are accomplishing is dependent upon a linear approach, that is first A, then B, then C.  

For example, some of our frequent and simple question include:

I thought the board approved a plan to re-open, but I’m not sure what the date is for the first day of school?

  The MSAD #75 board of directors did approve and adopt a "Return to School" plan on Thursday, August 13th. The MSAD #75 board also approved on August 13th to delay the start of school by one week from the original calendar. School will officially begin for MSAD #75 students on Tuesday, September 8th.  For those attending “in person”, those will be half days with dismissal at the noon hour.  Start times as well as socially distanced arrival and dismissal protocols are still to be determined.

When will I know my child’s homeroom teacher?
Well, the hard truth is that it is a complicated answer dependent on a lot of information still in development.  But, my best guess is by the end of next week, or August 28th, we’ll be ready to communicate that for K-5. 

In a nut-shell, what is the “hybrid model” I hear people talking about?

For those returning to “in person” school, the district plans to return with plans “A (fully open to all students everyday)-B(Hybrid, partially open 2 days per week with two cohorts of students)-C (Fully remote teaching and learning)” all as options throughout the year depending on many conditions in our community.  We are opening in plan B, this is the "hybrid model."  Students will be assigned to one of two cohorts within this model-Cohort A or Cohort B.  Cohort A will attend school on Monday/Tuesday.  Cohort B will attend school on Thursday/Friday.  Students are expected to engage in online instruction and learning that will be provided by the district on the days that they are not in school. Additional details of the district's Return to School plan can be found on the district's website at:

I might want to change my mind about in person or remote learning for my kid(s), how long do I have to change my mind?

Letters were emailed and mailed to MSAD #75 families on Friday, August 14th confirming that families had chosen Option #1 (In-Person ABC) or Option #2 (Fully Remote) for their student(s). For families that have chosen Option #1, the letters also indicated whether a student has been assigned to Cohort A or Cohort B.  Families have until tomorrow,  Wednesday, August 19th to indicate if they need to change their learning option and/or change cohorts. 


I have a new-to-school Kindergartener, what do I need to know?

First, we can’t wait to welcome your child to Woodside! 2020-2021 Kindergarten Screening will be a part of our return to school. Screenings will take place during the week of August 31st.  School staff will contact parents/caregivers over the next two weeks to set up individual appointments for the screenings. Kindergarten class lists are in development, and parents will be notified of kindergarten teacher assignments prior to September 8th.   Parents who have chosen Option #2 (remote learning only) will also have the opportunity to have their student screened at Woodside, and will be assigned a Kindergarten teacher, prior to September 8th. (We hope to revise the notification date soon, and are seeking to inform parents as soon as possible.)


School supplies….I want to support my kid and the school but have no idea what to expect, help please!

School Supplies:  Elementary schools are working hard to limit the number of supplies parents must provide.  For in person instruction we are asking you to ensure your child has the basics:  a backpack, sneakers, a lunchbox, a water bottle, and proper outdoor clothing.  Also, if your child wants to bring in their own face covering from home, please check that it meets the criteria set out in Maine CDC and Department of Education guidelines for effectiveness.  Once homeroom assignments are completed, there may be a few items that parents will be asked to pick up, but we are making every effort to keep the supplies request minimal, and out PTO has pledged to help with supply drive (stay tuned for more information on that!)


What are you doing differently to help everyone stay healthy and safe when at school this year?

Safety Procedures/Protocols:  As one can imagine, in order to safely return to school, there are many different procedures that we are having to identify, create, revise and/or address. This ranges from student arrival and dismissal protocols to daily schedule adjustments, lunch and recess routines. Woodside teachers and staff have been meeting twice a week on a volunteer basis for the past four weeks to problem solve and address these and many other important needs. You would be so proud about how great the classrooms are coming (I’ll attach a couple of pictures so you can see what a socially distanced classroom looks like.)   The school is clean and in tip-top condition.  We are also proud to let you know we began an in-person extended school year program under the supervision of our district special education leaders today, and I can report that it went wonderfully.  All the children and staff wore their PPE (personal protective equipment), and it feels like a great slow start towards a more robust reopening.  Very proud of everyone involved!


What!?  You are done with Q and A in this e-mail blast!.....but my question didn’t get addressed here!
Never fear, you can expect more from our school and/or district in the coming days. There are so many details to share ranging from health and safety protocols and procedures to instructional and schedule expectations for both Options 1 (in person) and 2 (remote).  We understand how stressful all this may be for you and your family. Thank-you for your continued understanding and support, and know that we truly are all in this together.  My pledge is to remember what I am grateful for, and also to share with you some of the truly positive and innovative solutions that our school district is applying to solve one of the biggest challenges to opening schools I hope I’ll ever have to face.


Looking for the positive? Here is a glimpse of some of the enhancements to learning that I am grateful for:


Circus Tent?  At School?!?

Well, maybe not for the Woodside One Wheelers (yet), but for outdoor learning, and a chance to eat outside, have a mask break and get protection from sun / inclement weather, YES!  We’ll have a large 30x60 tent installed before school opens, ready to be used in creative new ways to enhance outdoor learning.  The Tent will be located just below the ball field diamond....note other outdoor leaning spaces in our planning map below.


Outdoor Learning? YES!  Over the last few years we’ve developed four outdoor classrooms as part of our investment in outdoor play and learning at the school.  Here is an image of one such space outfitted with sunshade for part of our ESY program happening this week.



New Phones! Planned as part of our drive to increase safety and communication within the school, Woodside (and all the schools) have been outfitted with new classroom telephones since we were last opened. We know this will improve parent teacher communication as well and within school communication.  


Social Distancing Class Design -  We’ve been working on it, and working on it, and I think we’re figuring it out! Here’s an example of a couple classrooms with new designs meant to make smaller class sizes safe and effective for learning.  In Kindergarten you can use the creative use of individualized yoga mats for each child to help give a concrete example of personal space.  (We are re-purposing these away from our core guidance lessons “Calm and Alert” and will teach each child to help care for and store their own personal mat each day.  In 5th grade, classes are maximizing space for bigger bodies and and working hard to make sure that each child who comes to school knows they are being taught by teachers who care for them and want to help them learn and stay healthy during these unprecedented times.  With adequate space and ventilation, we feel very good about welcoming kids back to school and look forward to seeing more kids back at Woodside soon.

Kindergarten                                                               Grade Five

Positive Messages in our classrooms.


New Paint! Our custodians have been so hard at work readying the shcool, and I wanted to share just one image of a complicated paint job that looks great!  Our metal railings in the center stairway have not been painted since 1992….and well, it showed.  But now, thanks to our great custodian team, the railings are gleaming, as are all the doors in our classrooms and Gym...great work!



ExactPath - While it might take a pandemic to find funds for a high quality progress like Exact-Path, we are not going to look a gift-horse in the mouth.  These unique times have presented us with an opportunity to think different about how to assess students achievement and provide new and personalized instruction based on each students’ needs whether above, below, or just on target for their grade level. Exact-path represents a program that will not only help us to be more prepared if we need to close schools for a short break for any reason in the future, but will also provide us with a unified platform individualized for the unique needs of every learner. Each student will be assigned their own “ unique path” towards standard mastery.  As you know, Woodside’s Mission is:  “To Develop The Unique Strengths Of Every Learner For A Lifetime of Success”.  We’re only beginning to see what we might be able to do with Exact-Path this year, and we look forward to hearing from parents and kids what they thinks once we launch it over the first few weeks of school in September.


OK…..well, that’s enough for now.  Until more news is ready to be shared, I hope you all have a wonderful night, and I encourage you to go outside and find a new path of your own to explore with your family.  Thank you for entrusting your students in our hands, and please know we take very seriously that confidence, and will do our best to ensure their safety each and every day.

Be sure to look for more information soon,

-Mr. Dedek.

August 2020

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Woodside is a non-profit, public school organization · 42 Barrows Dr. · Topsham, Me 04086 · USA

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