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May 13, 2022 PPS Weekly COVID update

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May 13, 2022 PPS Weekly COVID update
Posted on 05/13/2022
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This Portland Public Schools’ COVID-19 advisory reports numbers from the past six weeks, from early April through today, Friday, May 13. These weekly advisories are an effort to keep the broader PPS community informed about the number of positive cases by school.

We continue to monitor our data, which shows an increase in cases consistent with state trends.

Earlier this week, Maine had the highest rate of new infections among all states, and Cumberland County was categorized as “red” or “high” by the federal CDC COVID-19 Community Levels tracker. Our pooled testing results and local wastewater data also indicated high positivity rates. Due to these factors, and in consultation with our medical advisors, the district returned on May 12 to requiring that all students, staff and visitors wear masks when indoors and on school buses.

As this week ends, Cumberland County has moved from a “red” rating to a medium “yellow” in the CDC county tracker. However, the state continues to have one of the highest infection rates in the nation, the number of positive cases in our schools remains high, and local wastewater testing shows the virus continues to be prevalent, so the district will continue to require masking. Recommendations regarding masking and other health and safety protocols will be updated as we continue to monitor school and community data.

Wearing a mask not only helps protect the person wearing the mask, but also those around them. Masking is most effective when everyone wears one. We’re providing children’s sized KN95 masks free of charge to students of any families requesting them.

The Maine Department of Education has ended the State's pooled testing program, so this week was the last week of pooled testing at the Portland Public Schools. Pooled testing was designed to prevent the spread of COVID, but with the rapid 1- to 2-day incubation period of the new variant, pooled testing is not able to identify cases before they may have already spread to others.

Instead of pooled testing, the Maine Department of Education and the Maine CDC are recommending frequent rapid testing. They have made up to six tests available for each PPS student and staff member. We have begun receiving student and staff rapid tests and will be distributing those over the next two weeks. Families will be receiving information from their student’s school about when test kits will be sent home.

 Anyone with symptoms, vaccinated or unvaccinated, should stay home and test for COVID-19. If you have symptoms, you should have at least two negative rapid tests at least 24 hours apart. Contact your school nurse before returning to school.

 We also are continuing our hygiene measures and symptom checks and will keep on encouraging vaccination and boosters to continue to keep schools safe for students and staff.

Vaccines and boosters remain the foremost protection against COVID. In partnership with Greater Portland Health, we are offering boosters to any eligible student at our school-based clinics at Casco Bay, Deering and Portland high schools, as well as vaccinations, and continuing our weekly COVID vaccination clinic at King Middle School. Here’s a link to find vaccination sites in Maine. That site also contains information about booster shots.

District-wide, our staff vaccination rate is more than 95 percent. We continue to offer a $100 incentive to staff that show their supervisor proof of vaccination, and we also are offering another $100 incentive for any staff member who provides visual proof to their supervisor that they have received their first booster shot. PPS employees who choose not to be vaccinated are required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

Below is a chart showing positive cases by school over the past six weeks. The numbers are current as of Friday afternoon, May 13.  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.

Here’s a link to the district’s Report Card on positive cases to date. You can refer to this live document throughout the week for updated numbers. You also can view a state COVID-19 dashboard that tracks cases in Maine schools and any outbreaks. None of Portland’s public schools is in outbreak status.

Grade Level

School Name

4/3/2022

4/10/2022

4/17/2022

4/24/2022

5/1/2022

5/8/2022

Elementary

Cliff & Peak Island Schools

0

0

0

2

0

0

East End Community School

2

1

1

7

2

4

Gerald E. Talbot Community School

0

1

1

2

9

15

Longfellow Elementary School

4

1

1

3

25

22

Lyseth Elementary School

0

3

3

7

12

21

Ocean Avenue School

2

3

2

12

11

10

Presumpscot Elementary School

2

6

0

4

3

2

Reiche Elementary School

0

4

0

7

1

6

Rowe Elementary School

2

1

0

6

13

14

Middle School

King Middle School

1

1

0

6

7

1

Lincoln Middle School

2

2

0

7

6

7

Lyman Moore Middle School

4

6

1

6

7

20

High School

Casco Bay High School

5

1

1

8

8

10

Deering High School

0

9

1

3

8

5

Portland Arts and Technology High School

0

0

0

0

1

1

Portland High School

2

5

0

17

17

5

TOTAL

 

26

44

11

97

130

143

 

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 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 50 languages. 51 percent of the district’s students are white and 49 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.