Wiscasset Elementary School and Wiscasset Middle High School have both switched to remote learning after two high school students tested positive for COVID-19, Wiscasset School Department Superintendent Terry Wood announced in a letter to staff, students, and families on Monday, April 12.
The switch to remote learning in both schools was prompted by the number of students and staff impacted by “close contact including the bus transportation,” Wood wrote in the letter.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines a close contact as someone who has been within 6 feet of a positive case, with or without a face mask, for at least 15 minutes during the infectious period; or someone who is in a cohort of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. As part of the contact tracing process, the Maine CDC asks close contacts to quarantine for 10 days, even if they test negative for COVID-19 during this time.
Remote classes started on Tuesday, April 13 and will continue through the end of the week.
The school’s April vacation is next week. When school resumes Monday, April 26, the district plans to return to its regular four-day schedule of in-person learning, Wood said in an email April 15.
Wood said that as the cases were confirmed three days before vacation, the Wiscasset School Department administration decided to transition both schools to remote learning as a precaution.
Wood said that he does not know the exact number of students or staff that have been affected by close contact but that it is “several due to the busing.”
All athletic events and practices were canceled and will resume after the April vacation. Wood said graduation plans continue to move forward at that time.
“We know that closing is very difficult news for all of us. With vaccinations underway and the ability to be outside for various activities including spring sports, we all hoped we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Wood wrote in the letter. “Unfortunately, case numbers are still high in Maine, with the highest number of new infections among young people.”
“Please remember that our ability to return to in-person school, complete the spring activities, and celebrate the class of 2021 with in-person graduation events relies on everyone taking appropriate COVID precautions, including wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, avoiding large group gatherings, and washing hands,” Wood wrote in the letter. “We all want to finish this year together, but we will need your support to do so.”