As most of you know, the Winthrop School Board voted to move forward with sports at the High School and Middle School levels in mid-September. The Middle School was allowed to structure some activities but not create a competitive schedule versus other schools. However, not wanting to waste any more of the season, the YMCA graciously offered to create/expand some of its programs in the areas of field hockey and boys/girls soccer. Currently, our Middle School soccer coaches are taking part in this; and with assistance from the high school staff, field hockey is also taking place regularly. Football is also practicing regularly with guidelines in place but will not have any games or scrimmages.

At the High School level, things are somewhat like the norm of a season, as they play competitive games against other schools. Some teams can only play within Kennebec county due to their level of risk assigned by the state, and this has limited the eligibility of schools and presented some scheduling limitations for Field Hockey and Boys Soccer. Due to the locality scheduling required of these two team sports, playoffs will not take place and the season will basically be an exhibition. Golf and Cross Country have still been able to compete state wide and will participate in some form of post season play. Football has been postponed until the Spring of this year, if and when many other factors take place. To help keep students involved, we were allowed to play 7v7 against other schools, but tackle football is not allowed. Finally, to help with regulations of 100 people or less at a gathering, fans are not allowed at any of the events. This year we have the need for more than the usual positions required in the past due to regulations and have filled them with Senior parents first, in order for them to watch their student athlete’s last year.

There will not be any form of an awards night to finish the season, due to gathering restrictions and the oddity of the year, but athletes will be recognized by our conference for participating during these tough times.

Looking forward, there has been very little discussion around Winter sports at any level. However, with current guidelines that are in place, it would be impossible to hold any form of a game at this time. In order for this to change, the State level of government would have to revisit their guidelines.


With many questions still left unanswered, I felt the need to comminucate with you about what has been decided at Winthrop Middle School. The following letter outlines what our day will look like to begin the school year. Please visit the district website for the complete long form that addresses the six areas of reopening schools as outlined by the Department of Education.

August 19, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians:

As we enter the unknown territory of a Covid-19 school year, I thought I would present what has been planned for Winthrop Middle School to date. Plans are subject to change as we look for balance. We need to find the safest possible way to return students to the building, while understanding their need for movement and socialization. Although educating the child is why they come to school, there are so many factors to weigh in on. To be succinct I will use bullets.

· Six school buses will be increased to ten to allow not more than 23 students per bus. Students will have an assigned seat on the bus. Students will put on a mask before getting on the bus and wear it throughout the school day. Students who cannot follow this most crucial request will be sent home and asked to become a remote learner.

· Buses pull up to Winthrop Middle School. A team of four adults will dismiss students off the bus, one bus at a time. We will ask students to remain masked and 3 feet apart.

· Students will report directly to advisee. In advisee, students will sit in an assigned desk using 6-foot separation. They will be provided a cold breakfast by the cafeteria staff. Students will be allowed to take off their mask to eat and talk with friends, while staying in their seat.

· Walkers and parent drop-offs will be allowed to enter the building in an orderly fashion by the same team of four staff who dismissed the buses. Students will stay 3 feet apart, even students who arrive together. These student WILL NOT BE ALLOWED to be dropped off until approximately 7:30 am or after all buses are empty and have departed. No students, other than bus students, will be allowed on school property prior to that time. When students arrive, they will report directly to their advisor.

· We will separate students by academic groups. These groups, called academic cohorts, will be in one classroom for the entire day. Advisee groups will have only students who are in the same academic cohort. Advisee groups will be 15 students or less – this will allow for 6-foot distancing and the removal of a mask. Academic cohorts will be larger and students will wear a mask 100% of the time in these groups. The advisee and academic cohorts will limit the number of students each child interacts with daily. Students will remain in their assigned seats while in this classroom.

· The school day has been broken into five, 50-minute academic classes: Math, English, Social Studies, Science, and a Unified Arts class. The rest of the day is broken into 25-minute blocks where teachers can take the students to designated areas for a mask break, silent reading class, outdoor activities, lunch, and dismissal. Students will only be allowed to take their masks off when an adult tells them they may.

· All teachers, including Unified Arts teachers, will travel to the different classrooms during the day. Students stay put, teachers travel.

· Lunch will be served in the cafeteria. Fifty (50) students will report to the café at a time and sit in an assigned desk. The cafeteria staff will bring a hot lunch to each child. Students will remain seated unmasked until dismissed. Students will be asked to put on their mask when dismissed and will be taken back to their academic cohort by an adult using 3-foot distancing.

· If students need to use the bathroom during lunch, they will wear their mask and follow a guided path to ensure no students are within 6-feet of each other.

· There will be no microwaves available at lunch.

· Lunch desks will be cleaned in between lunches.

· Due to additional time needed to bring students into the building, dismissal of students, and two additional lunches to provide for the maximum of 50 students assembling at a time, our academic time will be shortened.

· At a time to be determined students will be dismissed by bus numbers, one bus at a time.

· At a time to be determined walkers will be dismissed.

· At a time to be determined pick-ups will be dismissed.

· Dismissal will be monitored by adults. Students will exit the building using numerous doors, using 3-foot distancing, and wearing a mask.

· Students will not use lockers. They will be allowed to bring a backpack with everything in it they need. They will leave their backpack in their academic cohort.

· Due to CDC guidelines and the fact supplies cannot be shared, we are suggesting the following items be brought to school with your child and kept in their backpack for use throughout the day. Please be aware if you cannot provide these items we will do our best to provide them for you.

o trapper keeper

o notebooks

o pens

o pencils

o color pencils

o sharpies or permanent markers

o regular markers

o white board markers for math on a desk

o ruler

o scissors

o extra mask

o erasers

o tissues

o pencil case/pouch to keep those supplies in

o earbuds

o a "purse size" hand sanitizer for their desk

o hand held pencil eraser

o small stapler with staples

o scotch tape

o folders for work

o water bottle with their name on it

· Students will be asked to bring a towel, perhaps a beach towel, to use when outdoor seating is used. This will keep them off the ground and also provide a certain area to stay in.

· Food will not be allowed in academic cohorts as there will not be 6-foot distancing to allow for masks to be removed.

· Water bottles will be allowed. Students’ names should be on the bottle. We have two bottle fillers available for use.

· Bathrooms will be monitored. This plan is still being created.

· One of the offices in the lobby will be used for an isolation room. Nurse Ross will be the only person who sees any students who complain of anything other than needing a cough drop or Band-Aid. Mrs. Warner will not be responsible for attending to sick students. If you are called because your child is not feeling well, expectations are they are picked up within 60 minutes.

· There will be no band or chorus to begin the year. General music classes will happen.

· Laptops will be ready for student use on September 8th. This includes remote learners. A pick-up schedule will be provided.

· Students may take laptops home daily as long as their parents agree to pay for damages that occur to them off site. There will be no take-home fee this year. Laptops will be allowed to be taken home over the weekends. This will ensure if at any time we are deemed a “red” school, and must go to remote teaching and learning 100%, fewer students will need to come back to school to retrieve the devise.

· No parents or visitors will be allowed in the building. We will expect parents to use the intercom in between the lobby doors to communicate their needs with the main office.

· There are no plans for an orientation day or open house at this time.

· Use of the Library has not been determined as of yet.

· No neck-ups/gaiters or bandanas will be allowed.

· Face shields which meet the necessary requirements may only be worn with medical documentation on inability to wear a face mask.

· Make sure your mask:

o Fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face

o Completely covers the nose and mouth

o Is secured with ties or ear loops

o Includes multiple layers of fabric

o Allows for breathing without restriction

o Can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

· If a mask does not meet the requirements, another will be issued for the child.

· If your child is being called out for an excused absence, please specify why and what symptoms are present if they are ill.

The next section is for remote learners. There are still many unanswered questions.

· On-line textbooks will be used for Social Studies and Math.

· Google suite will be the constant platform used for WMS.

· There will be a way for parents to access assignments in Google Classroom, but they will not be allowed to see student comments or questions.

· Live streaming will be a staff option. If a teacher chooses to not stream their classroom live, they will provide lessons and a time for live interaction with remote learners who need help.

· Packets with work can be provided for families who request it in advance.

· If and when internet issues get in the way of a student’s ability to complete work in timely manner or at all, it will not be counted against them for attendance or grades.

· Grading will resume as it was prior to remote learning.

· Remote learning will not begin on September 8th.

As you can see, many questions are still left to be answered. When staff return they will have additional days to try and work out the kinks and concerns. As always, I am available by phone or email. Please tell your children that Winthrop Middle School will open our doors and welcome them on September 8th.


Karen E. Criss



** Thank you Dr. Seuss for the inspiration

Words by Karen Criss

I do not like this distance learning

It leaves me too much time for yearning.

I do not like it in my home

It makes my mind take off to roam.

I do not like it on my deck

Computer working cricks my neck.

I do not like it in my yard

Remote learning is just too hard.

I miss my kids, my staff, my school

So many people say, “Relax you fool!”

Relax? I say I cannot do

I must, I MUST get back to school!

I have to see their smiling faces

I must walk the halls to their paces.

I want to see the Monday Grumps

And high five slaps and Friday jumps.

I have to see them jump the wall

And touch as high as they can crawl.

I have to ask, “Where is your pass?”

And often say, “Did you pass gas?”

I miss their groups all in a bunch

I even miss them at their lunch.

So many teachers just like me

Crawling, itching, climbing up a tree.

You see this virus, it’s for real

A plague for sure, a real raw deal.

So stay at home and zoom, zoom, zoom

Go to classes, clean your room.

Do the work that’s there for you

You’ll get smarter if you do.

And when the schools are back in session

We may not be the same, we’re learning lessons.

Perhaps more grateful and more kind?

We’ll reconnect and we will find.

How distance makes the heart grow fonder

And how much time we really squander.

All Students have a school email and they should be checking it daily.

If you have a question about your child's work go to the teachers' web page (link above).

April 3, 2020

Dear Families of Winthrop Middle School,

I hope this letter finds you well. Just a short note to fill you in with everything I know to be true as of today.

All teachers have updated their web pages. They are providing resources for your children. Most teachers have emailed your children, Zoomed with your children, and assigned work for your children. Attendance is by choice. All grades are pass/fail. We are still in Trimester 2 as I am fearful that when/if we change PowerSchool all will be lost.

Food is still available for families. Read the district Web Site for updates from Superintendent Brown.

We have issues with students misbehaving in the Zoom and Google Classes. This will not be tolerated. The kids will not be able to attend the classes after ONE warning. At that point they will need to access the resources provided on the web pages but not engage with the other kids thorough a classroom setting. Please remind your children these are classes and all school rules apply. I am adding rules to on-line classes at the end of this letter.

As the Governor has told us to stay at home and possibly take note who is not, I am asking you please do not allow students to gather at your home and have them access the classes together. This puts the teacher and myself in an awkward position. We want to see and hear our students but truly cannot say we are supporting distancing when we see kids gathering together.

I am attempting to put notices here on the web page, but as many of you know technology is not my strength. Being the web master is a true challenge. I will do the best I can.

Please check in to Ms. McHatten and Mrs. Grant’s, our School Counselors’, web pages. They are working and have many resources for you to access. Nurse Jeannie is also available. You can email her for questions and concerns as needed.

I am certain you have a ton of questions:

What about the 8th grade trip?

What about Final Assembly?

How will my kid “catch up” with what they are missing?

When can I empty my kids’ locker?

How do they do this every day?


I do not have answers for you yet. As time goes on, decisions will be made. Some by us, some by others. As these decisions are made I will put them here – on this web page. You can email me any time and I will try and reassure you as best I can.

I can assure you right now, no student will “stay back” due to schools’ closing.

No student will fail any class due to schools’ closing.

In closing, be well and be safe. Follow the CDC guidelines to the best of your ability. I want you all back at school when we reopen.

Yours in Education,

Karen Criss

keep scrolling for important information

Snowy Sunday. I laugh when I think how worried we were about snow days.

I hope you are all well. Most Middle School taechers have reached out to the students with resources, work, projects, challenges, and hellos. You can see everything that is happening from each teachers' web page. I know this is hard for parents. If I can be of any help, please reach out through email.

Instruments will go home this week.

Be well.

Karen Criss

Happy Thursday!

At this point we have handed out 173 laptops to kids. If you didn't get your child's email me and I will make it happen.

All teachers have now updated their teacher web pages and most have reached out to each of their students. Please have your child go to the link on this page, click on their teachers' pages and check out what's going on. There is so much to do while you are home. Some teachers are creating Facebook pages to showcase work or post challenges. Your child can do as much as they want.

I do not want any parents to get worked up about grades or "staying back". All work until we retun will be pass/fail. Work not completed will not be counted as zeros or missing. Your child will not be retained due to the school not being in session.

Please take care of the laptops. There are no spares and no chargers available. If your child's compter breaks it cannot be replaced.

Please visit the district web page for updates from Dr. Brown. She is the spokesperson for our district and will keep the school community informed as decisions are made.

Lunches will be provided again on Monday. A letter will come out today explaining times.

Please take care of yourselves and all who you love.

Hi All,

If you did not receive an update from Dr. Brown, please visit the district web site (under more above) and read her letter.

We will be closed until April 27.

The district will have bag breakfast and lunches available at the Grade School Between 11-2 on Monday and Wednesday this coming week. No questions asked, come get the food for your families if you need it.

Laptops will be ready for pick up at the Middle School on Monday from 11-2. (The High School and Grade School have the same hours). Mr. Stoneton and I will be on the sidewalk out front of the school to help. We will separate the laptops by grade. We will ask only one car stop at a time, and one person come get the laptop and bag. 6th garders may take their laptop home. Some chargers are in rough shape. Unfortuantely we do not have spares. We also do not have spare laptops.

If there is something you MUST have from school, please email me. I will try and accomodate you. No one is allowed in the school at this time. Please make sure it is something you really must have.

The teachers at the Middle School will offer you suggestions and resources on their individual web pages. Please reach out through email if you need something. At this point Winthrop will not participate in what is being called - remote learning. We are not set up for this. We are not trained for this. We are not ready for this. Right now it is imperative we practice the safety guidlines put out by the CDC. Things will change and they will change quickly.

I will see some pof you on Monday.

Winthrop Middle School Students and Families,

I wish we were together. I wish I could walk down the halls and ask where's your pass? It really doesn't matter what I wish, however, our reality is a very different one from last week.

Changes are coming. We are trying to make decisions based on knowledge, but everything is changing so fast we just can't keep up. The decision to close for two weeks stands. Decisions on remote learning and laptops are being discussed daily. We are hoping for more guidance from the Department of Education on expectations.

I will update here as I can and when I know facts. Please be patient. Please be kind. Please be safe.

Much love.

Powerschool Access:

Ms. Knowlton ready for the Rock Wall

Special Olympics during week of the May 13th

Winter Carnival

Dress-Up Days