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June 10, 2022 PPS Weekly COVID update

This Portland Public Schools’ COVID-19 advisory reports numbers from the past six weeks, from mid-April through today, Friday, June 10. These weekly advisories have been an effort throughout the pandemic to keep the broader PPS community informed about the number of positive cases by school.

With the school year ending (June 14 is the last day for students and June 15 for teachers) and with a lower COVID prevalence in our community and schools, this will be our final weekly COVID report. We will not do weekly updates during summer school and, if current conditions hold, will not resume those reports for the 2022-2023 school year. Of course, should conditions change, we will resume appropriate communication to ensure that staff, students, families and the general public have the necessary information.

We continue to monitor local and state COVID data for the last days of school. Due to improving numbers from that data and advice from health authorities, masks remain optional, based on the advice of our medical team and lower COVID prevalence in the community and in our schools. Cumberland County’s risk remains “green” or low on the federal CDC COVID-19 Community Levels tracker. That tracker also now lists all of Maine’s 16 counties as at low or medium (yellow) risk. In addition, our district data has had four weeks of lower cases and local wastewater detection levels are down.

We still recommend that students and staff wear masks when indoors as a preventative measure for the last days of school, especially by those who are unvaccinated, have medical issues or live with those who may have medical issues. We’ll provide children’s sized KN95 masks free of charge to students of any families requesting them.

Masks will continue to be mandated in some instances. Staff and students who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to wear a mask if they return to school prior to the 10th day of quarantine. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and is a close contact of a positive case should mask for 5 days from last contact.  Also, our school-based health centers require masking in those spaces.

In the past two weeks, partly as a result of COVID cases, we had two instances of insufficient staffing to fully run school programming. We went remote for four days at Talbot Community School’s Functional Life Skills elementary program, known as Bridge. Lincoln Middle School’s eighth graders also had to go remote for two days.

Instead of pooled testing, which ended in mid-May, the Maine Department of Education and the Maine CDC are recommending frequent rapid testing. They have made up to six tests available for each PPS student and staff member. Schools have distributed three test kits (each kit contains two tests) to each student and staff member. Anyone who did not receive their kits should contact their school office.

Anyone with symptoms, vaccinated or unvaccinated, should stay home and test for COVID-19. If you have symptoms, you should have at least two negative rapid tests at least 24 hours apart. Contact your school nurse before returning to school.

We also are continuing our hygiene measures and symptom checks and encourage vaccination and boosters to help keep schools safe for students and staff during summer school and into the fall.

Vaccines and boosters remain the foremost protection against COVID. Here’s a link to find vaccination sites in Maine. That site also contains information about booster shots. District-wide, our staff vaccination rate is more than 95 percent.

Below is a chart showing positive cases by school over the past six weeks. The numbers are current as of Friday afternoon, June 10.  Due to health privacy laws, the district does not disclose specific information about individuals that test positive, such as whether they’re staff or students, the grade level they’re associated with, vaccination status, etc.

Here’s a link to the district’s Report Card on positive cases to date. You can refer to this live document throughout the week for updated numbers.

Please note that the Maine Department of Education and Maine CDC announced that their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Responding to a Positive Case in Schools will also sunset June 30. In its place, schools are advised to follow pre-existing communicable disease protocols. Also as of June 30, the state will stop updating and publishing as of June 30 a state COVID-19 dashboard that tracks cases in Maine schools and any outbreaks.

 

Grade Level

School Name

5/1/2022

5/8/2022

5/15/2022

5/22/2022

5/29/2022

6/5/2022

Elementary

Cliff & Peak Island Schools

0

0

3

1

1

1

East End Community School

2

4

4

3

2

3

Gerald E. Talbot Community School

9

15

4

8

5

6

Longfellow Elementary School

25

22

2

8

0

0

Lyseth Elementary School

12

21

8

4

2

3

Ocean Avenue School

11

15

8

8

2

4

Presumpscot Elementary School

3

2

5

1

1

1

Reiche Elementary School

1

6

2

2

1

1

Rowe Elementary School

13

14

7

6

4

0

Middle School

King Middle School

7

1

3

0

1

3

Lincoln Middle School

6

8

13

9

7

6

Lyman Moore Middle School

7

21

14

10

3

6

High School

Casco Bay High School

8

10

4

2

2

3

Deering High School

8

5

8

9

9

3

Portland Arts and Technology High School

1

1

0

0

1

0

Portland High School

17

5

12

9

3

6

TOTAL

 

130

150

97

80

44

46

 

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 51 percent of the district’s students are white and 49 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.