MEMO: District COVID Update – November 2, 2021

November 2, 2021

Dear Students, Families, and Staff; 

I want to update you on cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in our district. Additionally, I want to let you know the current status of the district’s pooled testing program. Lastly, I want to clarify the district’s use of the Maine CDC’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for responding to a positive COVID case in schools.

We have experienced an increase in cases in the district over the past six days. Eight individuals in MSAD #1 have tested positive for the coronavirus. Seven individuals are affiliated with Presque Isle Middle School and one individual is affiliated with Presque Isle High School.  Despite the high number of cases at Presque Isle Middle School, we are not seeing the virus transmitted within the school.  The current cases are examples of individuals bringing the virus from the community into our school.  For daily updates regarding active cases of the coronavirus at each school in MSAD #1, please see our COVID dashboard at https://sad1.org/covid-dashboard/.     

MSAD #1 Pooled Testing

All MSAD #1 schools have implemented pooled testing as of Monday, November 1.  I encourage all students who are not fully vaccinated to participate in this program.  Pooled testing allows for close contacts of a positive COVID-19 individual to remain in school and avoid quarantine when exposed to a positive case in school. This is a voluntary program for students which requires parent permission. The purpose of the pooled testing program is to identify the presence of the virus early — prior to it spreading throughout a classroom or school — and to reduce the number of unvaccinated students required to quarantine for 10 days.  You can learn more about the pooled testing program, as well as enroll your son or daughter, by visiting our website at  https://sad1.org/covid-dashboard/

Quarantine Restrictions and Requirements

The Maine CDC has issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for all Maine schools. This SOP  details how to respond to a positive case of the coronavirus in a school.  The procedures include how to identify a close contact and requires unvaccinated close contact individuals who are not participating in pooled testing to quarantine for 10 days.  A close contact is defined as someone who is within 6 feet of a positive case for 15 minutes or more.  All Maine schools are required to follow the SOP and our district nurses are in regular contact with nurse consultants from the Maine Department of Education to aid us in following the SOP and keeping the virus from spreading in our schools. 

Like many of you, I am frustrated that we continue to be negatively impacted by the coronavirus nearly 20 months after the start of the pandemic. It is important that we stick together, support each other, and demonstrate kindness and understanding to the MSAD #1 nursing staff if they contact you regarding your son or daughter. We understand the academic, social, and emotional importance of having students attend school as well as the many difficulties having a student in a 10 day quarantine places on families.  I am hopeful that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. I believe that increased participation in pooled testing and the likely approval of the COVID vaccine for students aged 5 to 11 will assist in reducing cases in our community.    

Please remember to keep your child home if he or she is not feeling well and reach out to MSAD #1 Health Service Director, Lisa Mckenna at mckennal@sad1.org for additional guidance prior to returning to school.

Sincerely, 

Ben Greenlaw

Superintendent