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HSD Update 2021
HSD Update 2021
Jim Chasse
Sunday, January 03, 2021

Happy New Year!  

I commend our community, staff, teachers, and leaders for their rather bizarre work that began last March and carries through today.  We have done a tremendous job given the circumstances and restraints.  Nice work. 

Here are some HSD updates (sorry for the length):

- COVID-19 and returning to school 

I am sure that you have been following the statistics and the predicted spike in cases after the holidays.  

In the cases that we have dealt with this past year, families that were proactive have helped other students and staff stay in school.  Obviously, we can not totally control a virus but there are things we can do to be helpful until this ordeal is behind us and we are obligated to follow the state-imposed guidelines.  
   
So, if any student has traveled outside of Maine, you are required to quarantine and or provide a negative COVID test in order to return to school.   So, please contact your school nurse for specific guidelines or with any information that keeps us all safer.  

We find that there is some confusion when it comes to the 48-hour rule, defined close contacts, and presumed positive cases.   At the bottom of this note is our local SOP for cases that impact the school.  

We will be maintaining the same hybrid schedule this winter, watching the number of cases while looking to the future.   There is more COVID information below.  Now for the good news...

Hermon Mt. Opens to Hermon Students

Grades 5-12 will be teaming with Hermon Mountain and our athletic department to offer free skiing on Wednesdays and Thursdays this winter!  We will have exclusive use of the mountain on these days! There will be a morning session for up to 60 HMS students and an afternoon session for up to 60 HHS students within their cohorts to ski, snowboard, and or tube.  Students may also sign up in advance for free lessons. The mountain will be following COVID protocols.  We are working on snacks and transportation for those who will need those services. 

Mr. Sinclair will be coordinating the program through the athletic department, please pay attention to our website and Facebook pages for more information.  There is some required paperwork and the program begins January 13-14,   

- FAT is Where it's At!  

We will soon receive a delivery of 25 FatTire snow bikes for outdoor PE and recreation.  These will be stored in the newly constructed outdoor school shed at the softball field (that will make a great pressbox as well).    

- RedFeather Snowshoes



Each of our schools will be receiving 2 classrooms of quality snowshoes for outdoor school and winter recreational use.   

- ICE PADS


There will be an outdoor skating rink installed at the elementary school over the next few weeks for students and the community to enjoy. 

- Athletics
We are grateful that winter athletics has begun for the high school and will begin right after the break for the middle school.  As long as the county stays "Green" within the state color code system we will continue to play and practice. Stay updated via FBook athletic page

Each Friday the school receives an advisory system update.  Here is the latest Advisory system notice. 

Gymnasium Cameras.  We have some very fancy cameras in the gymnasium that follow the play of basketball games at HHS.  The athletic department will share more information soon. 

The Hermon Rec Department will be putting out information for a modified basketball rec program for the younger grades.  At this time we will not allow AAU type teams to use the facilities.    

- Remote 2.0
The COVID case spike in December brought with it an increase in requests for remote learning.  If that trend continues into the winter we will need to plan accordingly.  The good news is how far we have come since last March.  We are now 1-to-1 K-12 and have enhanced our online capacity, the recent shutdowns have shown that we can now pivot with the best of em! 

We apologize for the grade 5 laptop issue, there is a production and delivery issue at the manufacturer's end and we continue to try and alleviate this problem. 

Here is an excerpt from HHS:

Principal’s Report: Hermon High School December 30, 2020

Remote Practice Day Timely

On Monday, November 16, Hermon High School teachers and students had the

opportunity to participate in a remote learning practice day. This day allowed
participants to try out our new technology and work out any bugs in our system for
providing remote instruction and learning. As things sometimes happen, this day
proved timely, as Hermon High School ended up remote the week of December 7.
To say that the remote learning experience was different than last Spring is an
understatement. To begin, 96% of students were in attendance for the remote
learning week, a far cry from less than 40% last Spring. Teachers followed the
regular bell schedule and students were expected/required to participate - just like
their regular class schedule. In addition, having all students and teachers on the
same devices really helped bridge the digital divide we experienced in the past. I
will admit at times I felt like the manager of an Amazon call center, walking
around the school and listening in on the different classes. Overall I was very
pleased with the results and can only imagine continued improvement over time in the instruction we will be able to provide. 
--

- Food Services
Our food program continues to provide daily meals at no cost, hybrid deliveries via request, and food for the Morgan Hill Y program.  Here is their FB Page, if you have specific needs please contact Jess Thompson.

- Childcare Grant 
The federal government has approved the continuation of funds for the Childcare reimbursement for essential workers daycare and the Bangor Y program at Morgan Hill.  The program will continue throughout the winter and into the spring until funds are exhausted.  If you have questions about the Bangor Y program, please contact them at 941-2808. There are still some openings at Morgan Hill for the Hybrid schedule.   

- What's Next?
HSD will continue to monitor cases and act upon cases that impact the school system.  Our nurses maintain a detailed tracking system of cases and contacts.  They with our administrators follow the protocols put forth in the state Standard Operating Procedure manual provided to schools.  

At the end of November, the state became overwhelmed with cases and many responsibilities were transferred to the local schools.  In each case, we still qualify our decisions with the state.  

On Monday, our district will participate in a refresher on any protocol changes imposed by the state and or local level.  

While we would all like to gain more student academic days, for now, we will continue with our schedule with hopes that the vaccine will allow for more in-person instruction.  Maine continues to be a preferable state in regard to cases, so let's keep it that way! 

We will be meeting with our Reopening Schools committee later in the winter to discuss our progress, schedules, remote learning, vaccinations, academic interventions, and more. 

It is totally understandable to want more in-person time with students but we believe that given the restrictions and our capacity we are implementing a solid plan to keep our staff and students safe.

 We have learned that each case has a fractal connectedness in the community.  The end run is to stay alive with a special eye on those in high-risk categories.  

- COVID-19 and the Hermon Community- What Parents Can Do?

Thank you for doing your part in following the precautions recommended with COVID-19 for distancing, public masks, limited gatherings, checking for symptoms, and washing hands.  

Please communicate with your child's school with any information that helps us to be safe
in regard to community spread.  If you have any concerns please contact a nurse, principal, your child's teacher, or the superintendent of schools.  There is also a state portal for citizens to express any concerns with a business or public protocol.  HERE

Please send your child to school with masks that are good fits, not falling off them.   

It is our expectation that all staff and students follow the guidelines set out in the state framework, local handbooks, and the executive orders set in place by the governor.  This is a reminder to monitor for symptoms and to keep children home if there are signs of sickness. 

We can not wait to get back to a normal school schedule, calendar, social life, ...  until then we embrace winter with creativity and overcome any obstacle in our paths.  

I have great hope that the forced resiliency placed on this generation will yield amazing results on the other side of the pandemic.  Maybe they will be the next Greatest Generation! 

May the new year be your personal best.

We got this! 

------

State COVID site: https://www.maine.gov/covid19/

Maine DOE COVID site: https://www.maine.gov/doe/covid-19

Local SOP for COVID Cases.  

Hermon Schools SOP based on updated DOE SOP (last update 12/14/20)

Tracking- 

  1. School Nurses call parents of absent students to inquire about symptoms, educate and make decisions on when the student may return (or see PCP) based on DOE and CDC guidelines. 

  2. Tracking sheets are maintained for each school by the School Nurse and shared with administration only- at times the Secretary who assists in the monitoring of Absences will also be included. This sheet includes dates, close contact situations, family contacts, test results, and when the student may return to school. This information is also shared with the designated staff person who manages the initiation of remote work.

  3. There is at times a separate tracking sheet that is shared with staff depending on the situation. Not all situations require a lengthy tracking sheet- If any of the schools are quarantining any large number of students it is not feasible to contact teachers specific to each student especially at the middle school and high school level where students have multiple teachers- therefore, a list may be shared with all staff at the specific school to indicate students out on quarantine and when they will return to school. There is no identifiable information to disclose who the positive case is. The only information shared is the student’s name, grade, and return to school date. This allows staff to know a student is out of school which helps monitor attendance and to follow-up if they miss work- as they could potentially be sick themselves. We may also include staff on this list. Some staff wear multiple hats and if another staff member is trying to locate them, they would already know that they are potentially not available until a return date listed.  Communication is key sometimes. 

Positive Cases-

  • When the Nurses are notified of a positive case- they work with administrators on identifying dates to determine if the dates of symptom onset or positive test require contact tracing. Per CDC standards we Contact trace back 2 days from a positive test result or onset of symptoms whichever comes first. If that individual was in the school building within 2 days of symptoms or positive test results we then identify who would be considered a close contact. Close Contact - any person who was with a presumed positive or confirmed positive individual for a cumulative time of 15 minutes throughout that day. Even with a mask on and within 6 feet of distance. 

Any individual in one classroom would be a close contact.

Any individual on a bus would be a close contact. 

Any individual playing on a sports team would be a close contact. 

The siblings of close contact is still considered a second contact.

You can not test out of a close contact quarantine.

  • The School Nurse reports the positive case to DOE/CDC and waits for confirmation... sometimes can take up to 2 days. As of right now, we call a phone number to report- this may change to an electronic system. 

  • The school nurse will make every effort to gather something in writing showing confirmation of the positive result. 

  • In the meantime Administration makes a decision, using an abundance of caution, on the next steps. 

  • All close contacts are called and notified- we do not wait for CDC to confirm a positive case on this- because it can take up to 2 days to hear from them. We do have a script to use if needed for this. Any questions are directed to the Principals or the School Nurses. We do let the close contacts know when they can return to school and what situations would change the return date- they are encouraged to follow up with the school nurse in the event that symptoms develop or they test positive. 

  • Once the CDC confirms the case is positive they assign a number to the case- this has no relevance to the school at all.

  • The School Nurse or administrator will send the DOE contact tracers a DOE created contact sheet that lists every student and staff member identified as a close contact- this is required by the CDC. They will then contact the members of this sheet to further discuss the quarantine requirement (They are supposed to but it is not clear if this is happening). 

  • Then we follow emails and tracking to trace any potential positives that arise from the school exposure. The tracking sheets are accessed and updated numerous times per day. 

Outbreak- 

The Maine CDC will conduct an investigation if there is an outbreak- 3 or more cases directly associated with an exposure that occurred at school. 

Table 1: Recommended Public Health Actions for COVID-19 in Schools

1 or 2

Single classroom/cohorts/pod

All students/staff within the classroom

All students in the classroom

Clean or leave classroom dormant for 7 days

Additional potential locations for close contacts include busses, after-school activities, etc.

1 or 2

Two or more classrooms/cohorts/pod

All students/staff within both classrooms

All students in the classrooms

Clean or leave classroom dormant for 7 days

Additional potential locations for close contacts include busses, after-school activities, etc.

3+ (outbreak*)

Single classroom/cohort/pod

All students/staff within the classroom

All students in the classroom

Clean or leave classroom dormant for 7 days

Additional potential locations for close contacts include busses, after-school activities, etc.

3+ (outbreak*)

Multiple classrooms/ cohorts/ pods

All students/staff in the same classrooms, cohorts, pods, buses, and extracurricular activities are considered close contacts and are recommended to be tested.

Close contacts may expand to include the entire school depending on the epidemiological investigation, considering factors such as adherence with public health guidelines and the age of the students.

All students in the same classrooms, cohorts, pods, buses, and extracurricular activities are considered close contacts and will need to quarantine for 10 days, regardless of test results

Close contacts may expand to include the entire school depending on the epidemiological investigation, considering factors such as adherence with public health guidelines and the age of the students.

Non-close contacts

may return to school with no testing after cleaning or the period of dormancy is complete.

Clean or leave classroom dormant for 7 days

Additional potential locations for close contacts include busses, after-school activities, etc.

If and only if students are cohorted in one classroom, it is possible that only affected classrooms will be closed.

*An outbreak is defined as 3 or more confirmed cases from different households within 14 days in a school. Outbreaks are closed 14 days after the last positive test or symptom onset, whichever is later.

Testing-

Maine CDC recommends testing for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection 5-7 days after exposure. Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, it is important that close contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested in the appropriate time frame, even though close contacts must remain in quarantine for 10 days irrespective of the test result. Testing of close contacts also helps identify additional cases, which in turn allows identification of further close contacts who should be in quarantine. Though antigen-based methods are available, Maine CDC recommends that testing of asymptomatic close contacts be performed using PCR- based methods at this time.

please click here to screen and register for your test- I have the link and can send to anyone who needs it. It is to the Northern Light testing Facility located in the Overflow parking area near the airport. This test is a PCR test. 

Isolation- You may not test out of isolation or quarantine

All student close contacts of positive cases must remain in quarantine for at least 10 days following their last exposure to the confirmed case (As of Dec 4th at 3:30pm). In order to leave isolation you must meet the following criteria: Symptoms improving, no fever for greater than 24 hours without the use of antipyretics (fever reducing medications). 

Siblings of close contacts are not considered close contacts unless a sibling tested positive.

Sites:

https://www.maine.gov/doe/fram...

SOP Investigating Outbreaks in K-12 Schools 12-14-20.pdf