NEWS RELEASE Mills Administration Expands Eligibility for Free Mail-Order COVID-19 Tests to All Maine Households Ahead of School Vacation Week Maine DOE and CDC announce revisions to contact tracing guidance AUGUSTA— Ahead of school vacation next week, the Mills Administration announced today that it has expanded eligibility for Project Access COVID Tests (ACT), a partnership between the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and The Rockefeller Foundation that mails free COVID-19 tests directly to the homes of Maine people. The initial supply of tests, which was originally limited to certain vulnerable communities in Maine, is now available statewide, with every household in Maine eligible to order one set of five at-home rapid tests, regardless of ZIP code of residence. With February school vacation starting on Monday, February 21, the Mills Administration especially encourages families and school staff to order these free home tests as soon as possible. Testing before returning to school following February vacation week will help prevent the school-based transmission of COVID-19 as students and staff return on February 28. Any Maine resident can visit the Project ACT website, AccessCovidTests.org, to place their order. The program is limited to one order per residential address during this first phase of the project. No payment information is required — both the tests and shipping are free to residents – and the tests will be delivered through Amazon approximately one week after ordering. The tests require a quick swab inside each nostril, with results available within minutes. Any individual over the age of two can use the tests. Maine is one of six states partnering with The Rockefeller Foundation, a New York philanthropy, on Project ACT to increase access to testing. So far, 76,680 of 125,000 COVID-19 tests allocated to Maine for the pilot have been mailed directly to the homes of Maine people most in need, improving access to testing in vulnerable Maine communities. Maine residents can also order free tests through the national initiative at COVIDtests.gov. More information about accessing free, rapid, at-home tests can be found on the COVID-19 Testing in Maine website. “Expanding this project will bring free, at-home tests to families across Maine, helping to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep Maine communities healthy as students return to school after February break,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav D. Shah. “We encourage parents and school staff to follow the thousands of Maine people who have already taken advantage of this opportunity to visit AccessCOVIDTests.org to order their free tests.” The Maine Department of Education (MDOE) and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) today also further revised the Standard Operating Procedure for responding to a positive case of COVID-19 in schools by suspending the recommendations for contact tracing. The previous guidance permitted schools with universal masking policies to suspend contact tracing. Now, regardless of masking policies, schools may suspend contact tracing. Those schools that have the resources to contact trace may continue doing so. These revisions follow other recent changes from the Maine CDC in light of the transmissibility of the Omicron variant. Additionally, following meetings between the Maine Departments of Education and Health and Human Services and the Maine School Superintendent Association last week, state officials continue to evaluate potential additional changes to policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Maine has largely followed recommendations from the U.S. CDC, including for face coverings, over the last year. However, assuming no forthcoming changes from the U.S. CDC and continuing favorable COVID-19 trends, Maine intends to issue its own school prevention guidance following February vacation, likely in early March. Since the fall of 2020, all Maine pre-K-12 schools have been providing in-person instruction to students. Throughout the pandemic, the Mills Administration has promoted safe, in-person learning, dedicating $329 million in Coronavirus Relief Funding (CRF) to Maine schools to help them educate Maine students. The Administration has also provided 10,859,586 face coverings, gloves, and other types of personal protective equipment to Maine schools and has supported COVID-19 testing in schools, including launching a pooled testing program. The pooled testing guidance has also been streamlined in light of Omicron, and schools have received rapid antigen BinaxNOW tests from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The Administration has helped organize vaccine clinics for school staff across Maine and supported more than 500 vaccine clinics for schools and students this past fall. According to Maine’s Vaccination Dashboard, as of February 15, 2022, 54.5 percent of children ages 5 to 19 were fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Data from the U.S. CDC show that Maine ties for sixth best in the nation in the percent of 5 to 17 year olds fully vaccinated. As of the end of October, 83 percent of school staff were fully vaccinated. The updated public health guidance for responding to a positive case of COVID-19 in schools will be finalized by close of business today, February 16, and will be available here.
Hirundo Wildlife Refuge is offering a winter camp for kids during the February school vacation week! Themes include snow creations, tracking wildlife, foraging, winter games, and more! For more information or to sign up please visit https://www.hirundomaine.org/februarycamp
RSU #34 Schools closed on Friday February 4, 2022 due to a winter storm.
Dear RSU #34 Community, You may know that Superintendent Walker is retiring at the end of this school year, after 17 years of service to the RSU #34 community. The School Board has formed a committee to conduct the search for RSU #34’s next Superintendent. We seek your input in the search process! The Board has contracted with Maine School Management Association to assist with the search; MSMA will host a community input forum on Wednesday, January 26th, at 6:30 PM, by videoconference. If you’d like to attend the forum, please email Jon.Doty@rsu34.org for the video link. Board members serving on the committee are Hunter Umphrey (chair), Moriah Geer, Howard Jack, John Milligan, Laura Sanborn, and Dave Wollstadt. Staff representatives serving on the search committee are Brenda Dahlbergh, Kerri Dexter, Jon Doty, and Scott Gordon. Input about strengths, needs, and priorities can also be provided via a survey. The survey can be done anytime between now and February 4th through this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RSU34SuptSearch Thank you in advance for your input!
1/21/2022: RSU #34 has released new COVID protocols. Please read them in full here: https://5il.co/14l6n On 1/18/2022 the state released further clarifications to its requirements that need to be in place in order to complete part of the 10-day isolation and quarantine periods in school. Supply to schools of rapid antigen tests has also increased, which opens an opportunity for us that we did not have in our earlier-January communication. We have adjusted our most recent district protocol in the places highlighted on the full document. Student athletes and coaches, for “return-to-play” considerations please pay particular attention to the isolation flow-chart and to the appendix. Summary of Key Points (details at https://5il.co/14l6n ): *There is currently great community spread of COVID-19 *Vaccination / boosting, participation in pooled testing, and reliable mask wearing remain key factors in slowing COVID spread and in avoiding quarantine *Those who test positive but meet certain criteria, including reliable mask wearing, may request an early return to school. *Those who have exposure but meet certain criteria, including reliable mask wearing, may request an early return to school. *Amidst this great surge in cases RSU #34 will be doing more notifications by group messages rather than individual calls/emails. *RSU #34 will accept clear, named, and dated home-based tests as an alternative to lab-based tests. *Continuous exposure to positive household members requires additional precautions. *Evidence continually supports that with precautions in place, schools are very safe locations.
Dear RSU #34 Community, You may know that Superintendent Walker is retiring at the end of this school year, after 17 years of service to the RSU #34 community. The School Board has formed a committee to conduct the search for RSU #34’s next Superintendent. Board members serving on the committee are Hunter Umphrey (chair), Moriah Geer, Howard Jack, John Milligan, Laura Sanborn, and Dave Wollstadt. Staff representatives serving on the search committee are Brenda Dahlbergh, Kerri Dexter, Jon Doty, and Scott Gordon. We seek your input in the search process! Input about strengths, needs, and priorities can be provided via a survey, or via a community forum. The survey can be done anytime between now and February 4th through this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RSU34SuptSearch The Board has contracted with Maine School Management Association to assist with the search; MSMA will host a community input forum on Wednesday, January 26th, at 6:30 PM, by videoconference. If you’d like to attend the forum, please email Jon.Doty@rsu34.org for the video link. Thank you in advance for your input!
RSU #34 is beginning development of the 2022-2023 ESEA Budget in parallel with the local budgeting process. Through ESEA (the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act), RSU #34 applies for and receives funds in Titles IA, IIA, and IVA. Title IA generally funds some of our intervention services to disadvantaged students, Title IIA is generally focused on professional development, and Title IVA includes three sub-funds: Safe & Healthy Schools, Effective Use of Technology, and Well-Rounded Education. For information on how to be involved in needs assessment and the application planning process for ESEA, please contact Jon.Doty@rsu34.org
Our January 2022 issue of Community Connections is now available! Many thanks to those who contributed to the issue. Please note that page 2 has info about several ways the community can provide input to inform next steps for our school district. Community Connections will arrive in mailboxes in the next week or so; the web version can be accessed at this link: https://5il.co/14dsp
1/14/2022: The state has released two rounds of changes in recent weeks, and RSU #34 has developed new COVID protocols, which will take effect when school resumes on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022. Please read them in full here: https://5il.co/14byt Thank you for your support in helping to keep the spread of COVID-19 slow, and helping to keep our schools open in-person!
Schools in RSU#34 will be closed today, Friday January 7, 2022.
Dear RSU #34 School Community, At the end of December, the state released a major revision to the “Standard Operating Procedure for Investigation of COVID-19 Cases in PK-12 Schools” (SOP). The SOP is the primary set of rules/procedures that schools must follow with regards to COVID exposures, isolation, and quarantine. The full revised SOP can be found at this link: https://www.maine.gov/doe/covid-19/sop The fundamentals are still the same: We urge all members of our school community to seek vaccination, and to talk with their primary care provider if they have any questions about vaccination. COVID vaccines are available for anyone five years old or older. We urge those who are eligible for vaccine boosters to get those promptly We urge all of our families to be diligent, each and every day, about conducting home screening before getting on the bus or going to school (link: https://www.maine.gov/doe/sites/maine.gov.doe/files/inline-files/Maine%20DOE%20Pre-Screening%20Tool%20for%20School%20Attendance%2010.19.2021_1.pdf ) We encourage all students and staff to participate in our weekly pooled testing With symptoms or exposure, we encourage families to seek out lab-based tests at one of these sites: https://www.maine.gov/covid19/testing (RSU #34 uses the lab-based test as the start date for quarantine or isolation…with symptoms or positive results on a home-based test, please seek a lab-based test to follow-up) Most of our precautions underway are still important under the revised SOP, as they greatly reduce the frequency of quarantine and the spread of COVID-19. These include: assigned seating, universal masking, increased ventilation, and hand hygiene. Evidence continually supports that with precautions in place, schools are very safe locations. As a whole, the state’s revisions to the SOP will greatly reduce the frequency and length of quarantines from school. Please remember, if your child has had an exposure to COVID-19 over the holiday, to leave a message at our COVID hotline: 827-7171 extension zero. We thank our community for your hard work and diligence in helping to keep our students, staff, and community safe. We know those in the healthcare field greatly appreciate all efforts to keep the spread of COVID-19 slow, keeping hospital capacity available for those who need treatment for any reason. Happy New Year!
The weather forecast for tomorrow, Wednesday December 22, 2021 includes morning snow transitioning to sleet and freezing rain making for icy road conditions during the day tomorrow. RSU#34 schools were scheduled to dismiss at noon on Wednesday making travel to and/or from school, potentially dangerous. With that in mind, schools in RSU#34 Alton, Bradley and Old Town will be closed tomorrow Wednesday December 21st. It is our hope that making this decision this evening will ease the challenge of planning for tomorrow. We wish all RSU#34 families a peaceful, happy holiday break. We appreciate your continued cooperation and support as we navigate the storm of COVID19. We look forward to 2022 and continued brighter skies. See you on Monday January 3, 2022.
Winter Holiday Contact Tracing Adjustments ================================== RSU #34 will adjust contact tracing procedures for the duration of the school holiday, in order to meet CDC guidance while recognizing that many families and staff will be hard to reach. If we learn of a positive case of COVID-19 in our school community, we will continue to trace back to their previous 48 hours to identify close contacts at our schools and on school buses. Please note that 48 hours after school/busing ends on Wednesday extends well into December 24th, Christmas Eve. We will rely on email notification to get the word out to close contacts; if your contact information has changed please be sure to promptly notify your school office. Because less information will be available than typical, we anticipate that we will be sending some messages advising that children/staff “may have been close contacts” –reminding families of symptoms to watch for and recommending testing. We will not have staff available over the holiday to provide advice for specific children’s circumstances; please use the information available through the Maine CDC’s website (links below) and contact your primary care provider with questions. Please use our COVID hotline to report positive cases of COVID-19 (827-7171 ext. zero). The school offices’ and nurses’ phone/email inboxes may not be checked until school resumes in January. If you are involved in an extra-curricular activity that meets during the holiday, please also be sure to promptly inform the coaches and athletic director. With COVID spread in Penobscot County and in Maine extremely high, contact tracing incidents are a daily occurrence. We urge our school community to continue conducting daily home screening before students get on the bus or attend school, and we urge our school community to continue erring on the side of caution. If you do learn of a positive case, please let us know promptly. We have seen repeatedly and first hand in our community how sneaky a disease COVID-19 is, causing no or minor symptoms for some, while devasting or ending the lives of others. Please keep helping our community, and our overwhelmed hospitals, by acting with an abundance of caution. ============================= Maine CDC Website: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/coronavirus/index.shtml What to do if you have COVID-19: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/documents/Isolation-CO.pdf What does quarantine mean? https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/documents/Quarantine-CO-v2.pdf Where can you go to get tested? https://www.maine.gov/covid19/testing
Many thanks to our partners at Penobscot Community Health Care, and our staff and student volunteers who helped us put on a successful vaccination clinic last night! Those students who received a second dose last night can count down the 14 days until they're considered fully vaccinated! Those who received a first dose last night can seek a second dose after three weeks. Many local pharmacies and doctor's offices can provide this: https://www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites
The US Dept. of Education is offering a webinar about the COVID vaccine for ages 5-11. Please see more information below. If you would like to sign your child up for our upcoming evening COVID vaccine clinic, please contact your school office. WEBINAR: COVID-19 Vaccines for School-Aged Children: What Parents and Families Should Know Please join the U.S. Department of Education and National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement for an informational webinar following the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech age 5-11 vaccine. Thursday, December 9, 2021 At 8:00PM EST This is a such special time of year, and this year, we all have one more thing to be grateful for: Kids ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective, specifically formulated for young kids. And getting your child vaccinated is the best way to keep them safe from COVID, including the Delta variant. This is great news for parents and families. During the webinar, esteemed panelists including United States Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten along with representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics will address common concerns and worries among parents and families about the COVID-19 vaccine for their child(ren) ages 5-11. Parents are invited to submit questions about the vaccine on the registration form. Pre-submitted questions will help plan the content of the session. Time will also be reserved for live questions and answers at the end of the event. Register in advance for this meeting here! https://maine.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=a582edd6473e477ef6307c769&id=2bf870595a&e=86e6eca0a1 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. For further information please contact email@example.com or visit https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/
The US Department of Education is offering a free informational webinar about the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5-11; please see more information and a registration link below. If you would like for your child to receive the COVID vaccine at our upcoming evening clinic, please contact your school office. WEBINAR: COVID-19 Vaccines for School-Aged Children: What Parents and Families Should Know Please join the U.S. Department of Education and National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement for an informational webinar following the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech age 5-11 vaccine. Thursday, December 9, 2021 At 8:00PM EST This is a such special time of year, and this year, we all have one more thing to be grateful for: Kids ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective, specifically formulated for young kids. And getting your child vaccinated is the best way to keep them safe from COVID, including the Delta variant. This is great news for parents and families. During the webinar, esteemed panelists including United States Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten along with representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics will address common concerns and worries among parents and families about the COVID-19 vaccine for their child(ren) ages 5-11. Parents are invited to submit questions about the vaccine on the registration form. Pre-submitted questions will help plan the content of the session. Time will also be reserved for live questions and answers at the end of the event. Register in advance for this meeting here! https://maine.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=a582edd6473e477ef6307c769&id=2bf870595a&e=7cc548ab39 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/
We hope all had a very happy Thanksgiving, and we look forward to welcoming our students back on Monday! Please remember to carefully screen for COVID symptoms/exposures before getting on the bus or attending school in the morning.
Many thanks to our community partner, Penobscot Community Health Care, and to our staff and student volunteers who worked together to put on a great vaccination clinic this evening! If you missed out on the clinic tonight and seek vaccination (ages 5 & up), you can find appointments through many pharmacies, grocery store pharmacies, and through your primary care provider. We will hold our follow-up clinic in three weeks so tonight's 5-11 year old participants can receive their second dose.
What's Going On In Your Child's Brain When You Read Them a Story? https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/51281/whats-going-on-in-your-childs-brain-when-you-read-them-a-story?fbclid=IwAR1hbk4W8LF-0Dg6vg6qUMDAa454XuZIcbwJx_sFcnOj_D-BpsNQuAJzQgQ
RSU #34 and Penobscot Community Health Care are partnering to offer COVID-19 vaccination clinics for 5-11 year olds. The clinic is open to our students, OTO-YMCA, and other local schools. The first dose is Thursday November 18th, at an after-school clinic hosted at Old Town High School. Parents/caregivers must accompany the child, and signed consent is required. Two weeks after the second dose, the child is considered fully vaccinated and will be exempt from quarantine in almost all circumstances! An electronic version of the flyer and consent forms can be found at this link: https://5il.co/11vqa Here are some resources that you may wish to check out to learn more about the vaccine. With specific questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to your child's primary care provider or your school nurse: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/The-Science-Behind-the-COVID-19-Vaccine-Parent-FAQs.aspx https://healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Getting-Your-Child-Ready-for-the-COVID-19-Vaccine.aspx