Dear Staff, Students, and Families:
I am writing to let you know that Pond Cove is approaching MCDC outbreak status with 43% of the 94 individuals out sick today due to Covid-related sickness. Outbreak status is defined by the MCDC as greater than or equal to 15% absenteeism among students/staff in a single day where the majority of those absences are due to COVID-19 illness. Certainly, not everyone is ill with Covid, but Pond Cove did have 26 positive individuals last week and 21 positive cases already reported from this weekend. To be honest, I am extremely concerned about being able to keep school open for in-person learning due to staffing concerns. We need your help and therefore we strongly encourage you to have your children wear masks while indoors at school K-12 and we are encouraging staff to do the same. Also, based upon a District Planning Committee discussion tonight, I may soon be asking the School Board to consider requiring masks for at least ten calendar days at any school that reaches Covid outbreak status as determined by the MCDC. Masks would again become optional after at least ten calendar days and we achieve less than 15% absenteeism among students/staff in a single day where the majority of those absences are due to COVID-19 illness.
While not quite at the same level as Pond Cove, we have also had an increase in positive individuals and sickness at CEMS (9 just today) and CEHS (21 just today) and are concerned about keeping those schools open as well. We are also hopeful we can still hold all of the end of year activities if we can slow this spread. We will continue to watch the situation closely and the District Planning Committee will make recommendations to the School Board as warranted.
This is not the situation any of us wanted to be in, but we are here now and we need to join together once more to get successfully through this latest variant surge. I recognize and respect that we all value being able to make our own choice regarding masks, but this current rate of infection is making it extremely difficult to keep our schools open. If we have to shift to remote instruction we will utilize an early release time schedule for the day and more information will follow from principals and teachers.
While we cannot control what happens in the greater community, we do hope voluntary mask compliance from our students and staff will help curb the spread. We have masks available for any individual that wants one in school. Furthermore, we should consider all students and staff to be potential close contacts and therefore we should continue to monitor for symptoms and please stay home when sick even with a negative at home test.
While those who have tested positive for COVID-19 previously are considered to have a 90 day immunity period, this immunity only applies to the specific variant that they were infected with. The 90 day immunity period does not mean one can not become reinfected with another strain of COVID-19. If one becomes symptomatic during the 90 day immunity period, they should be tested using a rapid antigen test, not a PCR test. The PCR can result as a false positive for up to 90 days post COVID infection.
Questions for the school can be directed to the appropriate school nurse listed below.
PCES - 207-799- 7339
CEMS - 207-799-8176
CEHS - 207-799-3309
We very much appreciate your support as we aim to keep school open for the final six weeks. Again, please have your children stay home if they are sick with any Covid symptoms and staff please do the same.
Chris Record, Ph.D.