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June 18, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update

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June 18, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update
Posted on 06/18/2021
This is the image for the news article titled June 18, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update This Portland Public Schools’ COVID-19 advisory covers the time period from June 12 through today, Friday, June 18. 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.

The Maine Department of Education’s (MDOE) last updated its color-coded county rating system on June 4. All counties remain “green” for the purposes of in-person learning. The state reported that all counties had a COVID-19 positivity rate below 5 percent, and that new case rates had fallen everywhere.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Center for Disease Control and Prevention plan to update the color-coded health advisory for in-person learning over the course of the summer, as needed.

State health and safety guidelines are evolving rapidly. MDOE is ending the state’s mask requirement for public schools as of July 1. However, MDOE is still recommending masks – especially for those who are unvaccinated, including students under 12. The Portland Public Schools and teachers have come to an agreement with teachers for a revised set of health and safety protocols for our summer programs that include continuing to require masks and physical distancing for students indoors. The district will be carefully studying the masking recommendation ahead of next school year, particularly regarding the lower grades, where students are not vaccinated at this time.

Masking, social distancing and other health and safety protocols have been 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. According to state health authorities, statewide data “continues to demonstrate that in-person learning in schools that follow public health precautions can be conducted safely, without increased transmission of COVID-19.” 

Families are encouraged to get their students 12 and older vaccinated. MDOE has been hosting information sessions with Maine physicians who are experts on COVID-19 vaccines and infectious diseases to help educate school populations about the COVID-19 vaccines available to school aged youth. Here’s a link for families to learn more. Here’s a link to find vaccination sites in Maine. 

Positive cases associated with PPS schools from June 12 through June 18: 
Rowe Elementary School: 1 positive, 8 close contacts

*Note: Some cases have 0 close contacts when 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. 

This is the district’s final weekly COVID update for the 2020-2021 school year. We will provide updates over the summer as needed and may resume the weekly report this fall, if warranted.

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.