PARIS — After an ugly increase in student illness and quarantine, School Administrative District seems to have beaten the virus back a ways, at least for the time being.

In mid-November, more than 300 students had to be held out of school due to exposure to the virus and about 70 students and staff had been infected with COVID-19.

This week, following the Thanksgiving break, SAD 17’s website shows that 131 students are in quarantine and 37 people have active cases.

Waterford Memorial School is the current hotspot, with 36 of its 87 students listed as out. Only one illness is attributed to the virus so despite the exposure of entire classes, the school is not in an outbreak. Last week 69 of Agnes Gray’s 120 students had to be held out of school; this week only five are in quarantine.

School health officials urge parents to take advantage of new tools to fight the virus – vaccinating eligible children over the age of five and participating in pooled testing – and keep schools open.

“Pooled testing has prevented some students from quarantining,” said Superintendent Dr. Monica Henson in an email statement Tuesday night. “These numbers will improve as more students are signed up.”

To date, more than 800 students and staff in Oxford Hills have participated in pooled testing, which combines random swab samples from 10-20 students and teachers. If a pool is found to have a positive result, every member of that pool takes a rapid test. Those who test negative are allowed to continue attending school and those who test positive are quarantined before they show active symptoms. More than a dozen infections have been detected during pooled testing.

One bright spot throughout the school year has been that few teachers and staff  in Oxford Hills have had to quarantine, which Henson says is due to employee’s high vaccination rate. She added that vaccinated staff who are identified as close contacts to positive student do not need to quarantine as long as they do not develop symptoms of the virus itself.

“We are doing our best to keep our schools open and safe for staff and students,” Henson wrote. “Everyone needs to do their part and stay home if they are sick and should call their doctor for recommendations.”

 

 

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