Regional School Unit 9 has been conducting hybrid instruction and halting in-person instruction when COVID-19 cases surface in schools. Pictured above is seventh-grader Alyisa Kinsey using hand sanitizer as she enters the lunchroom at Mt. Blue Middle School in Farmington. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 parents and community members were informed Tuesday evening, Nov. 17, at 6:35 p.m. that the Mt. Blue Middle School, High School and Foster Tech Center would be closed on Wednesday out of an abundance of caution. By Wednesday afternoon, two COVID-19 cases were confirmed within the district community.

Tuesday evening’s Mt. Blue Regional School District Facebook post read, “Dear RSU 9 Community, out of an abundance of caution, and with guidance from the Maine CDC [Center for Disease Control], we will be having a full remote learning day for grades 6-12 tomorrow, Wednesday, November 18th. Students, please check Google Classroom for specific instructions. Staff members, please check your email for building-related information. Please stand by for updated information as we receive more guidance from the Maine CDC.”

Superintendent Tina Meserve was unable to provide further information Wednesday morning since the district had not yet heard from the CDC.

“So what I can say is we have no known exposure right now, but we have a concern and so we put a call in to the CDC to ask them about it, but we weren’t able to get a hold of them last night,” Meserve said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. “It did not require a closure of the schools, but with cases rising everywhere, we just thought that it made sense to be extra cautious and wait until we heard from the CDC so that we’d know for sure.”

Franklin County was designated to the higher risk “yellow” category by the state’s Department of Education on Nov. 6. This classification recommends that schools consider hybrid instruction to reduce exposure to COVID-19. As of Nov. 13, five of Maine’s 16 counties are classified as yellow.

Meserve said Wednesday morning that the closure was a cautious step and that no further action may be necessary depending on the CDC’s response.

By Wednesday afternoon, the district had received confirmation that two people in the RSU 9 community had tested positive for COVID-19 and that affected schools, Mt. Blue Middle School and High School and the Foster Tech Center would be closed for the rest of the week.

The extended school closure was in response to the CDC’s backlog as coronavirus cases surge across the state. Without a CDC assigned case investigator, the district is unable to begin contact tracing.

“The Maine CDC has notified district administration that they are backlogged and are working as quickly as possible to assign a case investigator,” RSU 9’s Nov. 18 health notice stated. “A case investigator is required by the CDC and will provide the district with the necessary guidance to allow us to begin contact tracing locally.”

The notice also informed families that free meals are still available during school closures with in-person pickup available by filling out a Google form. The form can be found in Wednesday’s health notice found at mtbluersd.org. Delivery options are also available by emailing [email protected]

 

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