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Superintendent's Update - Monday 10/19

posted Oct 19, 2020, 11:03 AM by Bruce Bailey

Monday, October 19, 2020

Dear RSU 71 Students, Families, Staff, School Board and Community Members, 

I write to share news about a second case -- a presumed positive -- at the Captain Albert School Stevens School, the fourth case in RSU 71. On the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation, we released CASS students and staff at 12:30 pm today and will stay closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The tentative plan is for everyone at CASS not in quarantine to return to CASS on Thursday, October 22; this could change if there are other positive or presumed positive cases.

As you probably know from local news reports, there has been an outbreak of COVID-19 in Brooks, and it appears that the positive cases in our school district are related to that outbreak. I’ve received questions about why the different cases in RSU 71 have occasioned different timelines and responses. The answer is that we have stayed in very close contact with the CDC,  are using their definition of close contact, and following their recommendations to the letter. A person is a close contact if they have been within six feet of the infected individual for 15 minutes or longer. Thus the handling of each case depends on the close contacts of the positive or presumed positive case. CDC recommends against a blanket approach that would exclude secondary contacts and swathes of buildings unrelated to a positive case.

While we wish for students and staff to stay for in-person instruction and activities whenever we may safely do so, we also want to be extremely careful and cautious in response to this virulent virus. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of each member of our community. All close contacts to each case in our school district have been contacted, including Unified Arts teachers and specialists in the areas of Speech and Language, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak in Waldo County, we have made the difficult decision to suspend athletic and co-curricular activities for the remainder of the week. Student-athletes at Belfast Area High School have been immersed in various sports for the past fifteen weeks, since July 6. The fall season formally ends on November 14, and we very much hope to get back to practices and competitions next week. We will reschedule other events planned for this week, including the fall musical, jazz band, and National Honor Society.

I implore each member of our community to take this dastardly pandemic seriously.  It is invisible but real and potentially deadly, a covert and subversive virus that would have us keep our students from getting the education they so richly deserve. Students and staff have been simply superb about following all safety protocols while in school, but all of us also need to follow these protocols when not in school. Wear a face mask. Maintain safe social distance, even from the friends and relatives you love. Practice hand hygiene, wash your hands with soap and warm water at every opportunity and use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

As always, please feel free to be in touch with me, school nurses, and administrators. Sending well wishes and fervent hopes for the speedy recovery of all infected and affected by COVID-19, 

- Mary Alice

Mary Alice McLean
Superintendent of Schools, RSU 71
(207) 338 - 1960