Posted on 07/23/2020

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Mt. Ararat Middle School

66 Republic Avenue, Topsham, ME 04086

Phone:  (207)729-2950     Fax: (207)729-2964


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July 22, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,


I hope everyone has been enjoying summer!  I don’t usually send these updates in the middle of July, but I wanted to keep everyone up to date on the ReOpening planning at MSAD 75.  I have a several items for you:

The ReOpening Draft Plan has been released HERE in anticipation of tomorrow’s School Board meeting.  This broad 15-page document serves as the public-facing plan for ReOpening, with more detailed school-based plans that staff will use to actually implement this district-wide plan.  Our staff has been working tirelessly to develop, fine-tune, and adapt these plans to the on-the-ground situation with the pandemic.  Our current plan calls for starting the school year with staggered 50% in-person attendance for students (Plan B) for the first three weeks of school (until September 18), with a plan to move to 100% attendance (Plan A) if our school district meets the Maine Department of Education’s readiness status.  

Superintendent Shawn Chabot will be sending a formal letter to all parents Friday that contains our draft school reopening plan, as well as opportunities to learn more about the plan, provide input on the plan, and start the process of asking parents to identify their own family’s plan for the Fall. Please be on the lookout for this email.

How Can I Learn More About the ReOpening Plan?  At tomorrow evening’s (July 23) online MSAD 75 School Board meeting (ZOOM LINK HERE), Superintendent Shawn Chabot will be providing a detailed overview of the plan.  The meeting begins at 6:30 pm.  I encourage any parent to view this presentation as a starting point, and the above plan will be unpacked and explained a bit more.

Parent Information Sessions.  In addition to this Board meeting, we will be holding a district-wide Parent Informational Meeting via Zoom on July. 28 at 5:30.  This will be led by Superintendent Chabot and Assistant Superintendent Amanda Hersey, and there will be an opportunity for Q&A.  Following the conclusion of that district session, I will be holding an online Parent Coffee focused on ReOpening Plan at MAMS.  This will be an open Q&A session, and all parents are welcome to attend.  This MAMS Parent Coffee will occur at 6:15 pm via Zoom.  All of these Zoom links will be available on our district ReOpening Website, as well as on our MAMS calendar at the bottom of the main MAMS website.  These links are not up yet, but I wanted you to at least have the dates/times for planning purposes.  

What About My Child’s Class Placement?  The good news is that all our rising 7th and 8th graders should already know which team they are placed on since this is determined by the “teamography” flow and had a chance to meet those teachers on our Virtual Step-Up Day in May.  We plan to do specific class-teacher placement in late August, and teacher assignments will be available via the Infinite Campus student/parent portal at that time.  In addition, we still plan to send home 6th Grade Placement Letters around August 21, which will include the students’ 6th grade team assignments.  

When Will We Hear More?  We know that you all may have many questions about the reopening of schools.  As a parent of middle and elementary school-age children myself, it is something that is on my mind a lot, too.  We know how many logistical challenges, both within and outside the school building, there are.  We are your partner in this and we seek to keep you informed throughout the summer.  Check your email regularly for updates from me and/or Superintendent Chabot.

What Can I Do To Help Right Now?  I often get this question from parents, as they recognize the challenges we all face.  Here a few of my most common responses:

  • Support yourself as a parent, and pat yourself on the back -- this is one of the most challenging moments in education and society, but it also has flexed our parenting skills in new and sometimes difficult ways.  We are here to help in any way we can.

  • Let’s all afford each other a bit of grace right now -- we recognize that the topic of reopening schools has become a divisive and polarizing issue lately.  That may be true on the national level, but it doesn’t have to be true at MAMS.  We know from our parent survey that the vast majority of our parents would like school to reopen in-person.  This is what our teachers and staff want too. We are all doing our best right now to make that happen as safely as we can.  We want this horrible time to be over with as much as you do.  Please approach us with kindness and understanding.  Assume good intentions in us.   Please do not use elected officials as role models for how we should treat each other.  Our teachers really need this cooperation from our parents right now.  We plan to approach all our parents with this mindset as well because you deserve it.

  • Learn more about the reopening plans -- there are a lot of logistical issues right now!  We really encourage parents to review these plans carefully and fully seek to understand the facts before responding, especially to information you might see on social media about reopening school.   There is a lot of information in these plans and much to get handle on, so please watch the meetings, attend the information sessions, check the ReOpening Website regularly, and respond to our requests for information when asked.  These plans will take considerable time and effort by school staff to put into action.  We need to be trusted partners with our parents on this important work.  We look forward to it!

  • Finally, please tell your child I said, hello!  I miss seeing our students so much and I hate being apart from them.  I can’t wait to hear about what they have been up to and to reconnect with them soon.  Please tell your child that all their teachers (and principal) want them back in school to start learning again! 

Much, much more to come.  If any questions, comments, or suggestions arise, please feel free to send me an email at:


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Josh Ottow


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