A COVID-19 outbreak has been identified at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, according to a Monday, Nov. 2 letter from school officials to students, families, and staff.
The letter defines an outbreak as three or more epidemiologically linked cases at the school within two weeks.
Robert Long, spokesperson for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed by email that an outbreak investigation is ongoing and community transmission, now widespread in Maine, has been identified in Lincoln County.
Long said people “can help limit further transmission of the virus by taking appropriate precautions, including wearing face coverings, staying 6 feet apart, and avoiding nonessential travel and gatherings.”
Full-time distance learning will continue at MVHS until at least Monday, Nov. 9, when the school plans to return to a hybrid model unless there are continued concerns about COVID-19 transmission in the community or school system, according to the letter.
The school switched to distance learning Oct. 26, after the first case of COVID-19 was discovered.
MVHS Principal Linda Pease, who is quarantining as a result of the positive cases, said by email Tuesday, Nov. 2 that four total cases have been identified in connection with the school.
“We have a fourth confirmed always virtual student who has not been on our campus all year, does not ride buses, and does not participate in extracurricular activities,” Pease wrote.
Pease sent a video to staff, students, and families on Friday, Oct. 30 informing them of her quarantine and an extension of distance learning.
She said by email that she has tested negative for COVID-19 and is working from home.
RSU 40 Superintendent Steve Nolan said by email Monday, Nov. 2 that 70-80 students and staff have had to quarantine as a result of the outbreak investigation by the Maine CDC.
Nolan said that in addition to closing the school for cleaning based on the Maine CDC’s recommendation, the school could not continue in-person learning because of the lack of substitute teachers available to cover for staff members in quarantine.
Nolan has said the school district is working with an investigator from the Maine CDC to determine close contacts of the people who tested positive.
The district is “closely following” the Maine CDC’s standard operating procedure involving COVID-19 cases at schools, as well as guidance for cleaning and disinfecting from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nolan has said.
The Maine CDC defines close contacts on its website as “people who were within 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more. This includes the 48-hour period before the COVID-19 case became symptomatic.”
Nolan said all in-person extracurricular activities have been suspended during the quarantine period.
The first case at MVHS was associated with the boys soccer team, according to an Oct. 25 letter from RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel. Manuel wrote that the Morse High School team played MVHS that weekend and staff and families were being informed out of an abundance of caution.
The Midcoast Athletics Center, a privately owned gym with indoor basketball courts in Warren, has had an outbreak identified, with five individuals testing positive for COVID-19. Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah said during a press briefing Monday, Nov. 2 that the outbreak appeared to be connected to kids playing basketball.
The center said on its Facebook page that the original case of COVID-19 involved the same person associated with the MVHS boys soccer team, who plays basketball at the facility.
Long, of the Maine CDC, said by email Tuesday, Nov. 3 that both outbreak investigations are ongoing and the agency has not yet determined an epidemiological link between the two outbreaks.
Nolan said two separate cases of COVID-19 that are related to one another have also been identified in the district — one at Medomak Middle School and one at Warren Community School. Both schools remain on hybrid schedules, along with Waldoboro’s Miller School.
Union Elementary School, after shifting to full-time distance learning last week when one person at the school tested positive for COVID-19, is now back on a hybrid schedule.
Since the start of the school year, the district has had five schools on a hybrid model: Waldoboro’s Miller School, Medomak Middle School, and Medomak Valley High School, as well as Union Elementary School and Warren Community School. Friendship Village School and Prescott Memorial School, of Washington, have had full-time in-person instruction since the beginning of the year and will continue in the same manner.
Warren Community School saw two positive COVID-19 tests in early October, but continued with a hybrid plan. The school informed parents about a first positive test Oct. 7 and a second Oct. 8.