Dear MSAD 44 Educators, Students, Families and Community Members,
This special announcement is in response to the Maine CDC’s COVID briefing that was held Wednesday of this week. At that time, Dr. Shah provided several very important changes to the current Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that I wanted to share with you. As previously outlined in the board approved MSAD 44 Return to Classroom Instruction Framework, our district will follow the SOP as put forth by the Department of Education in conjunction with the Maine CDC. The main points presented by Dr. Shah in this update are outlined below.
1. Maine CDC is expanding access and encouraging all families to take advantage of the free test kits that are available to Maine families. Testing before returning to school after the vacation is recommended. These tests will be shipped 1to 2 weeks after ordering. Please visit https://www.accesscovidtests.o... now to order your tests!
Enter your zip code and on the following screen enter your mailing information to have 5 FREE COVID tests sent to you. The screenshot on the following page shows what the order screen looks like. The confirmation screen will allow you to order tests for any of your fellow community members that may not have access to technology. Please note that MSAD 44 will not require that students test but we strongly encourage that they do so in order to support a safe return from February break.
2. Contact tracing will be uncoupled from universal masking in the SOP. The most recent SOP document will make it clear that while schools can opt to continue contact tracing, they are no longer required to, regardless of mask wearing policies. Because of this change in the SOP, MSAD 44 will no longer continue contact tracing.
3. Maine CDC is carefully monitoring federal CDC’s guidelines on making changes to masking recommendations for school settings. In the event that there are no changes next week, and if there is a continued positive trend related to COVID case counts in Maine, CDC will begin Maine specific conversations that could establish plans for moving toward a masking optional recommendation for schools. MSAD 44 will continue to require universal masking until such time as the SOP is updated to reflect that masks are optional or a change is made to the MSAD 44 Return to Classroom guidelines.
4. Masking will remain a requirement in the SOP for any positive cases of COVID-19 returning to school/work in the 6 to10 day window after confirmed diagnosis or symptom onset. MSAD 44 will continue with the masking policy for individuals who return in the latter half of their 10-day quarantine.
5. It should be noted that the federal transportation requirement for masks is currently in effect until March 18, including for school buses. Any changes to this timeline would have to come from the federal CDC. MSAD 44 will maintain the requirement of masks on all school transportation until this federal requirement is lifted.
6. At this time, with the reductions in cases and positivity rates that are being seen, pooled testing is continuing to be of value. As such, the pooled testing program in MSAD 44 will remain in place at this time.
David W. Murphy Ed.D. , MSAD 44 Superintendent of Schools