Dear Brewer Schools’ Families & Staff,
I wanted to give everyone a few additional details regarding outbreak status. Currently Brewer High School (BHS) has been placed under this status -- see the 9.9.21 update in our News section of the website -- and I believe that Brewer Community School (BCS) will also soon be placed under the same status by the Maine Center for Disease Control (MCDC). As a reminder, a school reaches this level when three people associated with the school have had a case over a fourteen day time period.
BCS had five cases last week and, as with the BHS cases, while cases came into school from the community it also appears that we had cases that could include spread from one person to another while at school. Our cases are certainly a reflection of what's going on in Maine in general and in Penobscot County. To be clear, BCS is not officially in outbreak status, but I expect it will be placed under this status by the MCDC in the coming days.
|The protocols and rules schools follow change during the period of time that a school is labeled an outbreak. Below are details of a few of these differences taken from the MCDC's most recent Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) guiding document to which Maine schools adhere. |
Essentially, anyone in a classroom who is unvaccinated and who does not participate in pooled testing will be quarantined if there is a positive case in that room. This is a more restrictive rule than exists when not qualified as being in an outbreak. You should be receive an electronic permission form, this week, to have your student participate in pooled testing once per week here in Brewer. Your permission is required, unless a student is at least 18 years old. We are looking to begin this testing in early October.
* All students/staff/teachers of any classroom where the student/staff/teacher attended a class are considered close contacts regardless of the setup of the classroom/pod or face covering use... . Unvaccinated, non-pooling close contact students, teachers, and staff who test negative must complete a 10-day quarantine from the last day of exposure in the school.
* Outbreaks are preliminarily closed 14-days after the last positive test or symptom onset, whichever is later, and officially closed 28-days after the last positive test or symptom onset date, whichever is later.
Families and individuals have done a good job helping us to keep positive cases out of the schools as much as possible. During a time when people are frustrated (and worried) and it's easy to give into blaming, we have seen more support and cooperation than anything else. However, I would ask everyone to support of our nurses and other health care professionals who are doing so much amazingly difficult work as they apply the rules and protocols we've been given and whose only goal, on behalf of myself and the School Committee, is public safety and to keep our schools open. Please direct any frustration to myself and building administration.
Having said all this, we are also getting a lot of students back from quarantining that happened soon after school opened, so that's some good news for us to keep in mind.
Keep our keys to safety in Brewer Schools, 2021-2022 close by as we navigate our way through this surge.
Everyone must have a self-check for symptoms of COVID-19 before walking through the schools doors. These include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea.
A reminder of a MCDC advisory that when fully vaccinated people develop symptoms, "they tend to be less severe symptoms than in unvaccinated people." The good news is that this means these people rarely require hospitalization. They can, however, be contagious. Symptoms can include a tickle in the throat, mild headache, or mild fatigue. Don't hesitate, if you are vaccinated and have these symptoms, to have yourself tested.
Anyone with symptoms from the Pre-Screening tool must report these to the school nurse and not be present at school. If they are already at school they will wait in a clean room that has already been identified for this use until the person can be picked up by a parent or guardian. If the person is already at home they will stay there and the symptoms should be called into the school nurse as well as any medical doctor or practice who the family sees.
Here is information on what it means to be in quarantine.
Stay safe, support one another, and keep the faith. We will get beyond this current surge.
Gregg Palmer, Superintendent of School