January 2, 2022
Dear Staff and Families,
I hope that each of you had a restful and pleasant winter break. I am writing to share some important reminders and updates as RSU 1 prepares to welcome students and staff back to school tomorrow. We ask that all families support a safe return to school by screening all students for symptoms. When anyone feels sick with any low or high-risk symptoms from our screening tool, please stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours. As cases rise in our area, staying home when you feel sick is an important step for our whole community to take.
Pooled testing and vaccination are two key measures for keeping our community safe. Regularly scheduled pooled testing will begin again this week. It is not too late to sign up for weekly pooled testing. If you would like to join a pool, please follow the sign-up steps on this pooled testing consent letter. Pooled testing is a great way to monitor your health and quickly identify and mitigate the spread of the virus in our community. Early detection is key. It is important that your school nurse, both for staff and students, has a copy of your most updated vaccine card to ensure they are able to do accurate contact tracing.
This week, the Maine Department of Education in conjunction with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention released an updated Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Responding to a Positive Case in Schools. The updated document can be found HERE. The revised SOP focuses on the following major changes:
- Isolation and quarantine periods for students and staff are shortened (five days) consistent with recently updated guidance from the U.S. CDC. Please note that isolation has been shortened to five days if a person is asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without a fever for 24 hours).
- The Maine CDC is aligning its definition of what constitutes a COVID-19 outbreak in school with the State’s longstanding definition of an outbreak of other infectious diseases in schools. Effective immediately, the Maine CDC will open an outbreak investigation if a school reports more than 15% of a school population absent, which is the standard currently utilized to define an outbreak from other infectious diseases.
- The Maine CDC will no longer consider exposure to COVID-19 in an outdoor setting or on a school bus, where the Federal government requires masks be worn, as a “close contact.”
- The Maine CDC is updating its “test to stay” pooled testing program to enable more students to stay in the classroom. Regardless of where exposure occurs, if a student or staff member is participating in pooled testing, then they will not be required to quarantine from school.
The administrative team, school nursing staff, and our medical consultants will be meeting tomorrow to discuss the revised SOP in further detail. The district will share additional pertinent details with you as soon as possible. We thank you for assisting us in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our community.