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May 28, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update

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May 28, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update
Posted on 05/28/2021
This is the image for the news article titled May 28, 2021 PPS Weekly COVID update This Portland Public Schools’ COVID-19 advisory covers the time period from May 22 through Friday, May 28. 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 on May 21. Cumberland County continues to be categorized as “green” for the purposes of in-person learning, as do all other Maine counties. 

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 last few 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 May 21 that, over the last 30 days, the rate of new cases for school staff and students has fallen to 39 per 10,000, about 35 percent lower than a new case rate of 60 per 10,000 for the general population. 

“This continues to demonstrate that in-person learning in schools that follow public health precautions can be conducted safely, without increased transmission of COVID-19,” according to state health authorities. The county ratings will be updated again on June 4.

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.

Positive cases associated with PPS schools from May 22 through May 28: 
East End Community School: 1 positive, 0 close contacts
King Middle School: 1 positive, 0 close contacts
Lincoln Middle School: 1 positive, 18 close contacts
Lyseth Elementary School: 1 positive, 27 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. 

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.