By Dr. Abdullahi Ahmed, Co-Principal, Deering High School

Here at Deering High school, as well as at Portland and Casco Bay High Schools, grades 10-12 are heading back to school for in-person learning. 

I want to encourage parents to be patient with their children, work together with them, and support them. I also want to encourage parents to reach out to teachers for help, if students are having difficulty with the adjustment.

The challenge of getting kids reintroduced to school is a collective challenge, and one we need everyone to face and work on together. During the past year the academic learning gap between haves and have-nots has widened,  and we need to help our kids shrink that gap.

But it’s been a long time since these teenagers have been in school, and students will need to restructure their routines. This will not be easy for many teenagers – or for their parents. Teenagers can be unique to manage even in normal circumstances, let alone during a major transition like this.  But by talking supportively,  treating teenagers with respect by discussing the situation directly, and also calling on the adults at school when help is needed,  educators are confident that everyone will gradually settle back into in-person learning.

Educators feel strongly that students need the support of being in school. There have been significant attendance gaps on the part of many older students compared to previous years, and disengagement on the part of high school students has been growing. Many children need the support of routine in order to face tasks and get their work done. And as case numbers decline, and more and more people are vaccinated (I received my first dose!), many educators feel the time is right to get kids back in school. Younger students have been doing in-person learning in many districts most of this school year, so this is only new for a segment of the population.

If you have difficulty getting your student up in the morning, and to school on time, call the school, and say ‘I need to talk to an administrator, a guidance counselor, or a social worker.’ Share your challenges openly, so you can get help. Educators know that many students will need help from adults at school to get their social and emotional, as well as academic, needs met, and they are preparing to do their best for the kids. The schools also understand that there may be individual cases where circumstances prevent school attendance, but the expectation is for students to be in school. If needed, please contact the school to discuss exceptional circumstances.

Questions?  Concerns?  We will be building an FAQ page over the next couple days.  If you have specific questions or concerns, submit them using this form.  We will publish answers to commonly asked questions on the FAQ page.

Personally, I’m excited that everyone is heading back. I have missed the students – talking, discussing, and working with them. I have really missed them!