We write this letter in response to the July 8 front-page Sentinel article “A (flexible) framework: SAU 29 preparing for potential mix of in-person, remote classes next year.”
We are encouraged by Superintendent Malay’s statements which “remind everyone that the framework is not a final decision on what model we will be implementing,” “it was created with maintaining flexibility in mind,” that there is “still a significant amount of work to do in order to be ready to resume educating our children/students,” and that “final decisions will be up to individual schools” as the framework is “designed to … best serve each individual location” leads us to hope that outdoor learning will be incorporated as part of the “mix.”
We believe it is in the best interest of SAU 29 schools, teachers, students and families to incorporate outdoor learning into any plan developed for the reopening of our schools. Many of our SAU 29 teachers, with their principals’ support, have studied, explored and implemented outdoor learning experiences during these last few academic years.
We encourage all involved in this tremendous effort of planning for reopening that is underway to please keep outdoor learning possibilities front and center. Each school’s staff is equipped to work out the best and safest ways to educate and serve its students and families.
The rationale for our belief in outdoor learning opportunities for children is contained in the position statement of the Inside-Outside Advisory Group and reads in part: “Schools should consider outdoor learning as part of their plans for reopening … Time spent learning with and from nature provides measurable academic, social, emotional and physical benefits.” Their full statement, Outdoor Learning: A Solution for Schools During COVID-19, can be found at www.insideoutside.org/position-statements.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Guidance for School Re-entry” document recommends that schools at every level “Utilize outdoor spaces when possible.”
We are fortunate during this very challenging time to have both local education professionals who are experienced in outdoor education and many school campuses with natural outdoor areas adjacent or in close proximity to school buildings. What better time than now to incorporate outdoor learning into all of our SAU 29 students’ educational journeys?
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