Dear Parents and Guardians,
I have received many questions surrounding a remote learning week following the winter break as we did last year. At this time, our school district is not planning to have a remote learning week. I would like to take a moment to address the differences between this year and last year and the rationale behind the decision:
- Vaccination - According to Maine CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Rates for Youth by SAU, 65-69% of our students are fully vaccinated and that number is climbing each day as our younger students are moving through the process. Sharing your child's vaccination status with the school is a very important step in avoiding quarantine and remaining in school. If your child is fully vaccinated, please complete this Google Form (linked here) or send a copy of the card to the School Nurse directly.
- Pooled Testing - We have 1,270 participants in weekly pooled testing and think it is best to have students and staff return to the testing routine as quickly as possible following vacation. Those who participate in pooled testing will not be exempt from quarantine until they go through a round of testing in January.
- Exposure - The vast majority of positive cases our nurses have seen have been from community exposure, not school exposure. In fact, of the 164 positive cases since September, 135 of them were identified as community exposure versus only 29 identified as school exposure. When students are in school, they are masked and practicing safety precautions. During a remote week, many working parents have to rely on friends and family which could potentially increase the risk of community exposure.
- Transmission - We have eight (8) full days after Christmas until we return to school. Based on the timeline of exposure, many of the symptoms would have presented themselves if the transmission occurred over Christmas weekend so parents could test prior to children returning on January 3rd.
- Kids need to be in school. We learned that remote learning was difficult at best last year and parents need us to be open as much as possible. The Department of Education has also stressed the importance for schools to stay open.
IF YOUR CHILD TESTS POSITIVE OR IS A CLOSE CONTACT DURING WINTER BREAK
Our School Nurses need some time to recharge so they will not be contact tracing or responding to emails during the school vacation. However, the administration recognizes we may need to pivot and consider a remote learning option if we have a large number of reported COVID cases over vacation. Therefore, we are asking parents to complete this Google Form (linked here) if their child tests positive or is a close contact during this timeframe so we have the data necessary to make an informed decision. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to welcoming our staff and students back to school in the new year.
Superintendent of Schools