Carl Gartley, superintendent in Regional School Unit 18, speaks in August during a board of directors meeting at Messalonskee Middle School in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

A staff member at Oakland-based Regional School Unit 18 who is not a teacher and does not come into contact with students has tested positive for COVID-19, the superintendent said.

The positive test marks the third in the district after two students at James H. Bean elementary school in Sidney, who had already been out of school after learning of positive tests with close contacts, tested positive earlier this week.

None of the district’s eight schools were recommended to close by the Maine Center for Disease Control, according to Superintendent Carl Gartley, who first notified the school community in an email Tuesday.

Gartley did not specify the school the staff member worked at or the person’s job, except to say they were not a teacher.

“We go off CDC recommendations — if there is exposure at a school, we will specify the school,” Gartley said in a phone interview Thursday morning. “This is not a teacher. It’s our job to protect staff and students of their health and safety but also their privacy. If there was reason or any benefit whatsoever to share what school it was, we would share it.”

RSU 18 serves about 2,500 students from the towns of Belgrade, China, Oakland, Sidney and Rome.


According to the Tuesday email, the staff member was feeling OK and Gartley spoke to the CDC about the case. The staff member was aware of where their exposure came from, and had already not been in school for over a week in self-isolation.

The staff member’s lack of contact with others in the school would not meet any CDC contact tracing guidelines, the email said.

“As we all know, COVID-19 is in our community,” Gartley wrote in the letter to parents and staff. “I am thankful to our students and staff continuing to do everything we can to follow the guidelines outlined by the CDC and the Department of Education to keep our students, staff and community safe.”

The latest case comes as other schools in the region and state have been grappling with reported cases involving students and staff, as the total number of reported cases in Maine passed the 6,000 mark. On Thursday, Maine reported 42 new cases of COVID-19, including five new cases in Kennebec County.

The only known outbreak at a central Maine school has involved the Community Regional Charter School in Cornville and Skowhegan, formerly the Cornville Charter School, which has reached 20 positive cases. Officials say all students and staff associated with that outbreak have recovered.

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