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Jan. 8, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update

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Jan. 8, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update
Posted on 01/08/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Jan. 8, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID updateThe Portland Public Schools’ weekly COVID advisory was on hiatus during the winter break. This advisory covers the time period from Dec. 19 through Friday, Jan. 8. It includes the number of positive cases associated with our schools during this period and any outbreak declarations or building closures as a result. Staff, families and staff at impacted schools are immediately notified of positive cases and closings, but the advisory is an effort to keep the broader PPS community informed. 

The Maine Department of Education (MDOE) designated Cumberland County as “yellow” on Dec. 18, due to an increase in cases and positivity rates. That designation was renewed on Dec. 31 and remains in place as of today, with MDOE expected to next update the ratings on Jan. 15. A yellow rating indicates that there is increased risk of COVID spread in a county. Despite the increase in cases in the community, however, the vast majority of PPS cases to date have originated from contacts outside of school, not from spread within our schools.

Winter break began Dec. 23. The district’s secondary schools were in full remote learning on Monday, Dec. 21, and Tuesday, Dec. 22, but elementary schools continued with our in-person hybrid model. The district closed our secondary schools because they had been the ones impacted most by the positive cases reported. The closure was an effort to reduce COVID exposure for students, families and staff as much as possible, and limit additional contact tracing to help our hard-working nurse team take a much-needed break.

All our schools returned to our hybrid learning model on Monday, Jan. 4, and have remained in that mode throughout this week.

Positive cases associated with PPS schools from Dec. 19 through Jan. 8: 

Deering High School: 3 positives, 0 close contacts
East End Community School: 5 positives, 20 close contacts
King Middle School: 4 positives, 32 close contacts
Lincoln Middle School: 2 positives, 0 close contacts
Longfellow Elementary School: 2 positives, 0 close contacts
Lyman Moore Middle School: 3 positives, 0 close contacts
Lyseth Elementary School: 1 positive, 0 close contacts
Ocean Avenue Elementary School: 3 positives, 0 close contacts
Portland High School: 7 positives, 48 close contacts
Presumpscot Elementary School: 2 positives, 0 close contacts
Reiche Community School: 2 positives, 1 close contact
Talbot Community School: 2 positives, 0 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. 

Building Closures: In an abundance of caution prior to the start of winter break on Dec. 23, all PPS middle schools and high schools were in full remote learning mode from Monday, Dec. 21 through Tuesday, Dec. 22.

Over the time period covered by this report, Maine CDC determined that recent cases at Casco Bay and Deering high schools, at King, Lincoln and Lyman Moore middle schools and at Ocean Avenue Elementary School constituted outbreaks of COVID-19. An outbreak means that there are three or more cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period that are epidemiologically linked. The district executed the appropriate measures to respond to this designation, including notifying and quarantining all close contacts and implementing our enhanced cleaning protocols. Those schools all returned to hybrid learning mode at the end of winter break, on Monday, Jan. 4.

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.