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April 15, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update

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April 15, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update
Posted on 04/15/2021
This is the image for the news article titled April 15, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update This Portland Public Schools’ COVID-19 advisory covers the time period from April 10 through today, Thursday, April 15. This advisory includes the number of positive cases associated with our schools during this period and any outbreak declarations or building closures as a result. PPS notifies students, families and staff of impacted schools immediately when we receive notice of positive cases, but the weekly advisory is an effort to keep the broader PPS community informed.

These advisories usually come out on Fridays, but this one is being issued early this week before April break starts tomorrow, Friday, April 16. The next advisory will come out on Friday, April 30, the end of the first week students are back in school after the break. Note to staff, students and  families: If a case needs to be reported to school over the April vacation, please email covid19@portlandschools.org. A school nurse will be checking the email over the April break. 

The Maine Department of Education (MDOE) most recently updated its color-coded county rating system on April 9. MDOE noted that both new case rates and positivity rates recently have climbed statewide, but said that – for the purpose of in-person learning – all counties are “green.” 

However, MDOE still requires schools to follow the six state-mandated health and safety measures for in-person instruction. Those protocols are working to help keep schools safe; the vast majority of PPS cases to date have originated from contacts outside of school, not from within our schools. 

From a statewide perspective, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine CDC continue to review evidence that indicates lower transmission of COVID-19 in schools compared to the general population. State statistics show that the recent rate of new cases for school staff and students is 37 per 10,000, about 25 percent lower than a new case rate of 50 per 10,000 for the general population. “This continues to demonstrate that in-person learning in schools that follow public health precautions can be conducted safely, without increased transmission of COVID-19,” according to state health authorities. The county ratings will be updated again on April 23.

Positive cases associated with PPS schools from April 10 through April 15: 
Deering High School: 2 positives, 21 close contacts
Lincoln Middle School: 1 positive, 0 close contacts
Lyseth Elementary School: 1 positive, 13 close contacts
PATHS: 2 positives, 1 close contact
Portland High School: 3 positives, 99 close contacts
Presumpscot Elementary School: 3 positives, 28 close contacts
Reiche Elementary School: 1 positive, 0 close contacts
Talbot Community School: 1 positive, 8 close contacts

*Note: Some cases have 0 close contacts because those who tested positive weren't at school during their infectious period. Here is a link to the district’s Report Card on the status of all positive cases to date. 

Outbreak Status for PPS schools from April 10 through April 15:
Lincoln Middle School: Lincoln Middle School families were notified on April 14 that the Maine CDC had determined that recent cases at Lincoln Middle School constituted an outbreak of COVID-19. An outbreak means that there are three or more cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period that meet the CDC criteria for an outbreak. An outbreak does not necessarily warrant a school closure. It was deemed safe for Lincoln Middle School to remain open because some of the cases dated from more than a week ago and notification and quarantining of all close contacts and enhanced cleaning had taken place. This outbreak status will not impact plans to expand in-person instruction at Lincoln after April break. Read the April 14 letter to the LMS community.  
Portland High School: Portland High School families were notified on April 12 that the Maine CDC had determined that recent cases at the school constitute an outbreak of COVID-19. An outbreak means that there are three or more cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period that meet the CDC criteria for an outbreak. An outbreak does not necessarily warrant a school closure. It was deemed safe for the high school to remain open because all close contacts had been notified and quarantined and enhanced cleaning had taken place. Read the April 12 letter to the PHS community.

Learn about the procedures for outbreaks and school closures

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with 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 60 languages. 52 percent of the district’s students are white and 48 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced school meals.