Returning to Learning

Learning Experience

The district has developed three scenarios (Green, Yellow, Red) that use a color-coded system designed to inform important decisions and details around reopening in the fall.

This color-coded system also allows us to quickly adapt to the ever-changing nature of COVID-19 Each scenario takes into account a wide range of considerations centered around the health, safety and well-being of our entire community The district’s system is informed by the state’s color-coded health advisory system for each Maine county, which is being updated every two weeks.

Due to relatively low transmission rates of COVID-19 in Southern Maine, the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) have deemed it safe to proceed with in-person learning in the fall.

On August 20th, PPS' Board voted unanimously to accept the reopening plan recommended by the superintendent.

PPS will delay the start of the new school year until September 14th.

Despite the green designation, PPS has adopted a hybrid (Yellow) learning model to return to school in an effort to err on the side of being more conservative about health and safety concerns A hybrid model limits the time or number of students in person at school depending on grade level, with students and staff following required state health and safety protocols that include mask wearing, physical distancing, and daily symptom checks.

A remote learning option with consistent schedules and learning experiences also will be available for families who opt not to attend in-person school.

If elementary school students and staff successfully adjust to the required health and safety guidelines in the rst month of school, PK–5 will return full-time on October 13th.

District Scenarios

Green Scenario

Yellow Scenario

Red Scenario


Option Available for all Families

    • Portland Public Schools will provide a full time remote only option for families wishing to avail themselves of this form of instruction.

    • Elementary, Middle School and High School Freshmen students who opt for remote only learning will be assigned to a teacher from our remote only teaching pool. The teacher will not be the same that they would be assigned if they attended school in person.

    • High School students in remote only learning may have the same teachers, but will not be able to access in person learning center. They will remain eligible to participate in co-curricular programming including athletics subject to applicable eligibility requirements.

    • The remote learning experience will be stronger than it was in the Spring (see district-wide consistencies below).

    • The district is investing in a consistent set of technology equipment and platforms to enable remote learning and to streamline the experience for students and families.

District Wide COnsistencies

Teaching & Learning, Social Emotional Learning

Click for more information on consistencies in teaching and learning. Every student has a designated Portland Promise Point Person. Advising and essential standards will be prioritized to increase consistency in academic content. We also provide further information on scheduling, technology platforms, attendance, feedback & grading, re-opening logistics, and more.

Click for more information on social emotional learning. In addition to selecting a written guide to inform our recommendations for school reopening, we've outlined several critical practices. A competency chart highlights the ways in which these practices will apply to the various grade ranges.

TEchnology, Connectivity & Devices

Technology, Connectivity & Devices: Laptops and internet hotspot devices will be made available for each household via pick-up or delivery.

Students with devices from last spring can keep them throughout the school year.

Learning Platforms: PPS will rely on Google Classroom and Seesaw as primary online learning platforms (see consistencies section).

Training & Support: If you need tech support, let your child’s teacher know. The teacher will inform the right personnel at the school to get you the help you need. Technology training will be available for parents in multiple languages.

Click here for video tutorials on 'Hot Spot Instructions' and 'Google Classroom Instructions'

Special Education

Students with disabilities will continue to receive services across all continuums of Special Education to meet their Individualized needs.

Students in district programs will have access to additional in-person learning in the yellow hybrid scenario. (To be implemented on a gradual staggered schedule, using increased health and safety protocols.)

For all other students receiving special ed services, we will prioritize delivering those services in school when possible. If it’s not possible, services will be delivered via remote learning or teletherapy.

  • Special education and gifted services and programs will be aligned with District-wide Consistencies across each scenario.

  • Every member of the Special Education and Chapter 104 staff will serve as a Portland Promise Point Person.

  • Services will be delivered in consistent, small-group cohorts, and whenever possible, in the students’ general education cohort.

  • Related services (Speech/Language, OT, PT, Social Work) will be delivered in person to the greatest extent possible and through remote teletherapy if necessary.

  • If remote learning is in place (Yellow or Red), most students will receive some/all services remotely (specially designed instruction and/or teletherapy).

  • In a Red scenario, district programs (Bridge, Beach, Breathe) will be prioritized for some level of in-person instruction. Increased health and safety precautions will be closely followed including spacing and Personal Protective Equipment requirements for students and staff.

  • Individual plans will be made for students who are unable to participate in school through the IEP process.

IELD (Intensive English Learning Development) Programming

In an effort to meet our district’s goal around equity and achievement, our Intensive English Language Learners will have the option to receive at least four days of in-person instruction per week.

Yellow and Green Scenarios:

  • In-person instruction up to 4 days per week

  • Students temporarily assigned to a cohort led by an EL teacher as a “sheltered English class”

  • Prioritized for receiving a 1:1 learning device and hotspot in order to access remote learning and supplemental online materials

  • Parents/Families will receive ongoing and multilingual technical support with technology and remote learning

  • Physical and health safety training provided in home language

Red Scenario:

  • IELD students will be eligible to receive physically distanced in-person support from teachers and ed techs as appropriate. Specific learning centers will be designated in key schools across the city

  • Increased health and safety precautions will be closely followed, including spacing and Personal Protective Equipment requirements for students and staff

  • CALS students can access designated learning centers along with IELD students during periods of remote learning

community Partners

Click here to view full details and sign-up for Community Partner Programming.

Band & CHorus Guidelines

At this time, for courses and activities that require increased respiration, including chorus, singing, brass or woodwind instrument use, physical education, dance, and theater, holding courses and activities fully or partially online is highly recommended. If they are held in person, it is strongly recommended – and at times required – that these activities occur outdoors. Safety requirements for these activities are as follows:

Chorus and Singing Instruction / Musical theater

Singing and voice projection carry a relatively higher risk of virus transmission because it can aerosolize respiratory droplets to a distance of at least 13 feet.

1. If outdoors, with masks encouraged, these activities can occur with at least 14 feet of distance between individuals. Note: At this time, these activities should not take place indoors.

2. All students should face in one direction instead of facing one another. Avoid singing in a circle or semicircular formation.

3. Students and teachers should avoid sharing materials as feasible. Any sharing of equipment, including music stands, props, set pieces, rails, and voice amplification equipment, should follow the guidelines in the “Shared Objects” section of this guidance. Do not share makeup or anything that comes into close contact with mouth or eyes (e.g., microphones). Avoid sharing costumes and wigs.

Band and the Use of Musical Instruments

Some musical instruments carry a relatively higher risk of virus transmission. Instruction for brass and woodwind instruments must follow the relevant guidance related to indoor/outdoor activities, masks/face coverings, and physical distancing this in this document. In addition:

1. Instruction for musical instruments that require air blowing (e.g., flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, trombone) can only occur outdoors when individuals are at least 14 feet apart. These instruments should never be shared.

2. Instruction for musical instruments that do not involve air blowing (e.g., strings, percussion, and piano) may continue indoors or outdoors as long as health and safety requirements are met. If needed, these instruments can be shared between students in accordance with the guidelines in the “Shared Objects” section of this document.

3. Students should be encouraged to clean their instruments regularly, especially the mouthpiece and high-touch surfaces, such as finger pads.