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Sept. 10, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update

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Sept. 10, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update
Posted on 09/10/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Sept. 10, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update This Portland Public Schools’ COVID-19 advisory covers the time period from Sept. 4 through today, Friday, Sept. 10.

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.

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.

Currently, vaccines, universal masking indoors and on buses, and pooled testing for students in kindergarten through grade 6 are the district’s top health and safety measures for keeping students learning in our classrooms. Other protocols include daily symptom checks, physical distancing, masking outdoors in congested settings where physical distance is difficult, frequent hand washing, enhanced cleaning, keeping windows open, and having everyone spend as much time outdoors as possible.

Pooled testing in grades K-6 – where students currently are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine – is slated to start Sept. 20. Pooled PCR testing can detect cases of COVID-19 at incredibly low levels, catching cases in asymptomatic individuals before they become symptomatic or infectious, thus reducing spread. Pooled testing is voluntary but PPS urges all K-6 families to register their children to help keep our schools safer. 

Also, those in the PPS community who are eligible but not yet vaccinated – staff, students, families and other community members – are urged to get their shot. Here’s a link to find vaccination sites in Maine. We also will be having vaccination clinics at our secondary schools.

Here are the positive cases and close contacts required to quarantine associated with PPS schools from Sept. 3 through Sept. 10:
Deering High School: 1 positive, 33 close contacts (Note: We were notified about this case last week, but after the distribution of Sept. 3 weekly update, so we’re including it this week.)
East End Community School: 2 positives, 0 close contacts
Lyman Moore Middle School: 3 positives, 26 close contacts
Lyseth Elementary School: 9 positives, 68 close contacts
Portland High School: 2 positives, 35 close contacts 
Presumpscot Elementary School: 1 positive, 42 close contacts

*Note: Some cases may have 0 close contacts because they have not been at school during
their infectious period, so there was no exposure within the school community.

Building Closures and Outbreaks at PPS schools from Sept. 4 through Sept. 10:
Lyseth Elementary School: The CDC has declared an outbreak at Lyseth Elementary due to the nine positive cases being reported this week. 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. These cases appear to be connected to a neighborhood child care facility so the school will be closed starting Monday, Sept. 13, while all remaining students who attend that program are tested and we can determine if there was any additional exposure within the school. The Portland Public Schools continues to collaborate with the CDC to monitor the situation and will inform Lyseth families if there are any updates.
Portland High School: PHS was closed Tuesday, Sept. 7, as a result of two positive cases the district learned about over the holiday weekend.  The purpose of the closure was to allow the district to sort through and notify close contacts as we were not able to do that over the weekend. The school reopened on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

Here’s a link to the district’s Outbreak Status and Closure Criteria. The district’s Report Card on the status of all positive cases to date is being updated and will return next week.

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-price school meals.