January 21, 2022
Dear Staff, Students, and Families,
This letter is to update covid case information thru Friday, January 21 th as of approximately 3:00 pm. We have had 61 student and 13 staff positive cases reported in 5 days.
I would like to take this opportunity to address some misconceptions about the current Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Maine CDC and DHHS.
SOP statement: Positive individuals may return to school if symptoms are resolving on day 6 AND can wear a mask correctly and consistently through day 10. If the individual has continued symptoms on day 6 they should NOT be coming to school. If you wish your child to come to school after day 5 they should have NO symptoms and take a home test with a negative result. (We will accept at home tests.)
Isolation starts at the date of the positive test - the onset of symptoms will not necessarily be day zero. Free Covid tests can be ordered here. (Schools are currently receiving limited supplies of rapid test kits. For this reason, families are encouraged to use external testing resources when available.) Clarification (added Friday 5:50 pm): Asymptomatic individuals with a positive test that day is considered zero. Taking a test with single or mild symptoms and a negative result followed by another test that is positive a day or two later with more or worsening symptoms could result in day zero being on the day of the onset of symptom. There is a case by case analysis that results in ta determination on these types of cases proceed with caution as many individual are continuing to test positive on days 6 thru 10.
The current SOP states the following:
It is very important that everyone realizes and understands this practice applies to community events as well. Although schools will not be “policing” this for obvious reasons it is important that there be an understanding among our families so you can make the best choice for your family and the larger community on days 6 thru 10 concerning community based events.
I would also like to address the remote status of schools this week. There is a false assumption that it is ONLY due to staffing issues. The remote schools had very high student and staff positive cases. The combination of high counts AND staff illness contributed to the decision to go remote. I want to be clear that the two are connected. We have kept schools open when cases have risen by relying on our mitigation procedures. We have kept schools open with high staff illness due to the sacrifice of our staff and their dedication to knowing students need to be in school. However, this week has provided our biggest challenge with BOTH high case counts and high staff absenteeism.
At this time we are tentatively planning for all schools to return to in person learning on Monday, January 24th. However, please know we are monitoring positive cases closely among both staff and students. There will be a follow up announcement on Sunday afternoon as to the status of our schools.
Finally, Mount Vernon Elementary School has been identified as being in outbreak status. Maine CDC opens a school-based outbreak investigation when at least 15% of students or staff/teachers in a school are absent in a single day where the majority of those absent are due to COVID-19 illness. The school will remain in outbreak status for 2 weeks AFTER the percentage drops below 15%. (MTVES has had 3 days of continued plus 15% illness so the earliest we can be removed from the outbreak status list is still undetermined.)
At this time I strongly recommend that everyone act as if they have been exposed. It is the reality of our current situation as we navigate this spike in cases. Wear a mask correctly, practice hand hygiene, and socially distance as much as possible. Communicate with your building nurse if your student develops symptoms. We will make it through this latest wave with everyone’s continued vigilance. Thank you.
Superintendent of Schools