JAY — Regional School Unit 73 Superintendent Scott Albert announced Thursday night that Spruce Mountain Elementary School is designated in outbreak status for COVID-19 by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“That means we’ve had three active cases within the last 14 days,” he said. “At the moment there’s nothing else we have to do.”

A person from Maine CDC is excited RSU 73 will begin pool testing in mid-October, which will help with quarantining, Albert said.

There were six student cases prior to school starting and 15 cases since — 10 students, five staff, he said. School nurses say 14 are definitely not school transmissions, one is being looked at, he noted.

Director Joel Pike asked if the number of close contacts is large enough for the district to look at, and why there are so many.

All students are at school this year, compared to only half at once last year, Albert said, and not all close contacts need to quarantine.

“I’m not surprised by the close contact numbers,” Albert said. Buses are full, classrooms are trying to be kept full, he said. “We’ll keep looking at the numbers.”

Pool testing for COVID-19 and vaccinations coming for younger children should help, Albert said.

Attendance at all Spruce schools is between 80% and 85%, compared to 90% before the pandemic, he said. Because of masking/vaccines, a lot of students are in classrooms, he noted.

On a day-to-day basis, 5% to 7% of absences are related to the virus, Albert said.

Director Patrick Milligan advised not to react to information changing daily on pool testing, newer studies, treatments and booster shots.

“We just went through it with face masks,” he said. “Don’t take my word or anyone else’s, do your own research so you are aware of what you can do for yourself.”

“Remember, here at school we still have to protect everybody,” Milligan said.

Director John Johnson said with pool testing people may have had the virus and not know it. The CDC says once someone has had it, they’ll test positive for at least 90 days. Some may have had it this summer, that may show up once testing starts, he said.

Anyone who has had COVID-19 in the past 90 days doesn’t need to quarantine, Albert said. If the pool tests are all negative, nothing else is needed but if there is a positive test, the group is tested again, he said.

Johnson asked when students are sent home with symptoms is there anything in place to make sure they’re getting the work they missed.

“We do have people reaching out, it’s not as wonderful as we’d like it to be,” Albert said. Keeping kids in school as much as possible is the main point, he noted.

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