Dear RSU #34 Community,
With each passing day comes news of another Maine school community impacted by COVID-19. While RSU #34 has not yet had a positive case within our schools, we have worked closely with families to take proper precautions when exposure has happened outside of school, and when members of our community have had symptoms similar to COVID-19. In each case, we have practiced an abundance of caution when making decisions that impact our staff and students, working to keep COVID-19 from entering our doors or spreading in our community. We write here to outline important steps, and to emphasize with our community the importance of home screening, great communication, and steps to keep the spread of COVID-19 slow.
Prevention is key! Our student and staff families help us prevent COVID-19 from entering any of our busses or school buildings by conducting home screening each and every day for symptoms similar to COVID-19. Please continue to err on the side of caution; COVID-19 is a sneaky disease in which some people exhibit few symptoms, while it is devastating or fatal to others. The screening process can be seen here: LINK
Despite our community’s best efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay, some in our community have already had exposure to COVID outside of our schools. As case counts in Maine and in Penobscot County continue to climb, it is very important to remember that great communication and taking quick action help to keep the spread slow.
If you were to be exposed to someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, you would be contacted by the Maine CDC or the organization involved (such as an employer). Those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days from last exposure, even with a negative test result.
If we learned of exposure to a positive case of COVID-19 at our schools, we would identify all of the close contacts and either the Maine CDC or a school representative would contact you directly to guide you in the appropriate steps. We would evaluate the circumstances, and determine if the class, school, or district needed to shift to remote-only instruction for a period of time. If you have not been contacted directly by staff or CDC contact tracers there is no interruption to your school.
Please understand the importance of your cooperation in our ability to keep the school community safe. Early and rapid communication from home to school is critical if you become aware of a positive case in your family or in your circle of close contacts. This is not a time to “roll the dice;” being honest and forthright to our school staff about your exposure to the virus is important to help limit and trace the potential spread of the virus within the school community.
Please monitor yourself/your student for signs and symptoms. Call a health care provider if symptoms start. It is important that you call a healthcare facility before you arrive in person. Stay home if you are sick.
There is more information below about COVID-19, its symptoms, and what we can do to keep the spread slow and protect our community. We know that maintaining vigilance for many months is tiring; please join us in keeping up our preventative efforts so we can keep our community safe and our students in school.
David A. Walker
Superintendent of Schools
Regional School Unit #34
More information about COVID-19:
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that ranges from mild to severe. It can be more severe in adults 60 years and older and in those with underlying conditions. The virus mainly spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and an uninfected person breathes in the virus. Signs and symptoms include:
• fever or chills
• shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• muscle or body aches
• new loss of taste or smell
• sore throat
• congestion or runny nose
• nausea or vomiting
Please keep in mind that many things can cause respiratory illness, so students and staff should be up to date on influenza and routine vaccinations.
Maine CDC recommends prevention measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures include wearing a face covering over your nose, under your chin and snug against your cheeks, practice physical distancing, and wash hands with soap and warm water. When soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
For general COVID-19 questions, dial 211 (or 1-866-811-5695). You can also text your ZIP code to 898-211 or email email@example.com. Call a health care provider for questions about your symptoms. More information can be found at www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.