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June 4, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update

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June 4, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update
Posted on 06/04/2021
This is the image for the news article titled June 4, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID updateThis Portland Public Schools’ COVID-19 advisory covers the time period from May 29 through today, Friday, June 4. 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) updated its color-coded county rating system today, June 4. The state continues to categorize all counties as “green” for the purposes of in-person learning. “All counties have a COVID-19 positivity rate below 5 percent, and the new case rate per 10,000 has fallen in nearly all counties,” MDOE says.

MDOE still requires schools to follow the six state-mandated health and safety measures for in-person instruction. MDOE has updated some of that guidance, but after reviewing the new recommendations with school leaders and teacher representatives to assess the feasibility of implementing any changes before the end of this school year, PPS has decided to mostly stay the course with its health and safety protocols for the final weeks of school. The 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. The state reported June 4 that “the rate of new cases for school staff and students has fallen by nearly one-quarter since the last update two weeks ago, to 30 per 10,000 over the last 30 days, about 21 percent lower than a new case rate of 38 per 10,000 for the general population during the same time period.”

State health authorities say this 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.”  The county ratings will be updated again on June 18.

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. Also see our Health Update to learn about vaccination sites.

Positive cases associated with PPS schools from May 29 through June 4: 
Lincoln Middle School: 3 positives, 11 close contacts
Lincoln Middle School: 3 positives, 11 close contacts

Here is a link to the district’s Report Card on the status of all positive cases to date. 

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.