PHILLIPS — All students at Phillips Elementary School have switched to remote instruction after an outbreak of COVID-19 and a significant number of close contacts, Superintendent Todd Sanders advised Thursday.

Students in grades kindergarten to eight are scheduled to return to in-person learning Tuesday, Oct. 12.

“The district has been in ongoing communication with the Maine Center for Disease Control regarding the current situation at Phillips Elementary School,” Sanders wrote in a letter posted Thursday on the School Administrative District 58 website. “As you are already aware PES has been identified as in “outbreak” status by the Maine Department of Education/MCDC.

“Since that identification, we have had more confirmed cases of COVID-19 as well as a significant number of new close contacts,” he wrote. “As a result of the impact of the confirmed cases and the close contact tracing that has identified additional students/staff that need to quarantine, we will need to move PES to remote learning” for the week Oct. 4-8.

Technology devices were sent home with students Thursday and lunches can be picked up for students from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, according to Sanders’ letter.

Friday will be designated for educators to prepare for remote learning, which starts Monday, Sanders said. Friday, Oct. 8, is a scheduled workshop day and Monday, Oct. 11, is a holiday.

“We understand the additional challenges that making a decision such as this places on everyone involved,” Sanders wrote. “Please know it is not a decision we make lightly and it is something that we considered long and hard prior; however, the increased impact of COVID-19 made it necessary.

“At this point it is the best possible course of action to continue instruction as well as help to guarantee the safest possible learning environment for students and staff. Hopefully, following next week, the numbers of confirmed cases will have decreased to where we can return to providing instruction as we did at the start of the school year,” he said.

Phillips is not the only SAD 58 school with cases of the virus. Others have been reported this month at elementary schools in Strong and Kingfield and at Mt. Abram High School in Salem Township, according to Sanders.

The district has more than 600 students from Avon, Kingfield, Phillips and Strong, and nonresidents from Madrid, Salem and Freeman townships, and those from Eustis and Carrabassett Valley who pay tuition to attend SAD 58.


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