County Coronavirus Status Change - December 4, 2020

Dear Students, Parents and Staff Members

 

It was announced at noon today that Oxford County is joining Androscoggin, Somerset and York counties as being  "Yellow" in the school advisory system. The designation comes as no surprise to us given the significant increase in cases in our county - especially in nursing homes. "Yellow" means that there is "mild to moderate" community spread.  It does not pinpoint where in the county it is most prevalent.  We do know that the number of cases in our eight towns has nearly doubled over the last two weeks. There is also another outbreak at the paper mill in Rumford. It is important to remember that schools are doing an excellent job of preventing the spread and are most likely the safest place for students and staff to be.  Commissioner Makin shared this in her Thanksgiving message to staff: 

 

"...Because of your courage and hard work, 100 % of Maine public school administrative units were able to safely open up this fall and because of your diligent attention to the six requirements for health and safety at school, Maine schools are significantly safer than other settings in the greater community. Data provided to me this morning indicates that our public school students and staff members are less than half as likely to be positive with COVID-19. As the general population, specifically those who attend or work in Maine public schools currently have only 40 percent the positivity rate that we’re seeing across other sectors of our state. Please know that your efforts and contributions are making all the difference for the students and communities you serve and for our state as a whole as we remain in a state of civil emergency and everyone has had to be hyper vigilant for such a long time now."

 

I want to remind you of our procedures in the event of a "yellow" or "red" designation. 

 

Green or Yellow Designation: 
 
All of our schools have opened in some form of hybrid model. We have students at all of our schools who are learning remotely by choice and by doing so have freed up space in the schools to accommodate other students for in-person learning. This is a form of hybrid learning. The high school and middle school have implemented a different form of hybrid learning in order to provide the space necessary to meet safety guidelines required by the state for in-person learning. If the county designation color changes from green to yellow there may be greater distancing expectations but the primary means for providing education will not likely change. The inability of a school to provide adequate staffing will result in the school going to remote learning.
 
Red Designation: 
 
The high school and middle school would go fully remote. Each elementary school  will be evaluated for:  community spread within the town the school is located, opportunities for greater distancing within the school and ability to provide adequate staffing. Schools located in a town with a high community spread and, or unable to expand distancing will go remote.  Schools in towns with low or moderate community spread and adequate staffing will further reduce the number of students in the building by implementing a hybrid model that divides each class in half and has students attending half days in an AM pod or PM pod. A positive case in a pod will move that entire pod to remote learning. The inability of a school to provide adequate staffing will result in the school going to remote learning.  
 
Where do we go from here? 
 

Going "Yellow" will not change our current model for providing education. Where possible, enhance distancing, make every effort to ensure the isolation of pods and refrain from gathering with other staff. Please step up enforcement of mask wearing.  While in a "yellow" advisory all meetings and PD should be conducted via zoom or by other remote learning tools.  

 

We continue to monitor our staff and students' health and make adjustments to learning as necessary. This means we must be flexible as our learning environments flow in and out of in-person, hybrid and remote learning. Being mindful of your own health is essential. Please conduct a precheck each morning using the checklist provided to you earlier and linked here. Being vigilant in masking, distancing, hand washing and wearing the appropriate protective gear are the best ways for us to remain safe. 

 

I will continue to update you as the matter evolves. 

 

PS:  Dr Shah announced this afternoon in his daily update that the Rowe School outbreak was being reopened after more cases were discovered.  The Rowe Outbreak case was resolved and closed. It was reopened last week  because one additional positive case was reported.  The case occurred outside of school and has no impact on the school.  There have been 12 cumulative cases at rowe since school opened in the fall.  Most associated with out of school transmission. All have been resolved with the exception of this one recent case.  The way the announcement was phrased was factual but easily misconstrued - sounding like 12 new cases occurred.  We have asked Dr Shah to update the message to better communicate the situation.