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Sept. 24, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update

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Sept. 24, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update
Posted on 09/24/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Sept. 24, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update This Portland Public Schools’ COVID-19 advisory covers the time period from Sept. 18 through today, Friday, Sept. 24.

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.

Pooled testing in grades K-6 – where students currently are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine – began Monday, Sept. 20, and went smoothly. 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. More than 2,000 students participated – about 60 percent of the eligible student  group. Results showed that our combined mitigation layers are working to identify and manage the presence of COVID in our schools.

Those mitigation layers include vaccines, universal masking indoors and on buses, pooled testing for our younger students in kindergarten through grade 6, daily symptom checks, maximizing physical distancing in classrooms through seating charts and room configurations, 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.

Enrollment for pool testing, the newest of the district’s mitigation layers, is ongoing and we expect the number of participants to increase as parents see how easy and effective pooled testing is.

Pooled testing is voluntary, but PPS urges all K-6 families to register their children to help keep our schools safer. There is open enrollment, but families must register their student by a Friday to be included in the following week's pool.

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. PPS is holding weekly vaccination clinics at our secondary schools. Here’s a link to find vaccination sites in Maine. https://www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites

Positive cases and close contacts required to quarantine associated with PPS schools from Sept. 18 through Sept. 24:
East End Community School: 3 positives, 21 close contacts
Lyman Moore Middle School: 1 positive, 0 close contacts
Presumpscot Elementary School: 1 positive, 8 close contacts
Reiche Community School: 2 positives, 10 close contacts
Rowe Elementary School: 1 positive, 0 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. 

Here’s a link to the district’s Report Card on the status of all positive cases to date. Here’s also a link to the district’s Outbreak Status and Closure Criteria

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.