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2021-2022 COVID NEWS AND INFORMATION

Last Updated: 1/21/2022 7:30 PM

Important websites:

COVID-19 Communication Forms

In an effort to streamline communication between our families and schools, we are asking families to fill out the following online form if your child tests positive for COVID-19. Please know the school nursing staff will be in contact with you as needed by the end of the next school day.

Freeport High School

Freeport Middle School

Durham Community School

Pownal Elementary School

Mast Landing School

Morse Street School

2021-2022 RSU5 Reopening of School Plan
On August 25, 2021 the Board of Directors voted to approve the Reopening of School Plan.  Click HERE to read the plan

Click HERE for the RSU5 American Recovery Plan Summary

Student Health Screening
Please do the COVID Pre-Screening for School Attendance of your children before they leave for school. Please keep students home when they're sick. If your student is absent, please call the school to update them with a reason for the absence.

Illness Letter/Covid 19 - "What Does Your Student Need to "Return to School" Following an Illness?

Pooled Testing Information and Forms for DCS, PES, MSS, MLS
Click HERE to access information and permission forms for Pooled Testing
Pooled Testing FAQ's
Recording of the 9-14-21 Q&A on Pooled Testing - After clicking the link, please wait for the video to start. It will begin at 14 seconds.


Below is correspondence Superintendent Foley has sent out to families (most recent at the top)

January 21, 2022

Dear Staff and Families,

This has continued to be another tough week for COVID in RSU 5. We have had 122 new positive cases since my last letter: forty-six at the FHS, twenty-three at DCS, twenty at FMS, fourteen at MSS, twelve at MLS, six at PES, and one with district staff. In RSU5, we are now at 489  positive cases. 

We continue to encourage everyone to participate in pooled testing and to become vaccinated. The website to sign up for vaccines is  https://vaccine.mainehealth.org/ 

To maintain in-person learning, it is critical that we grow our pool of qualified substitutes and volunteers. If you are able, we invite you to apply to be a substitute or volunteer in our schools. Individuals in these roles must go through a well-defined background check and approval process, which takes a bit of time.

Substitutes
Individuals interested in serving as substitute teachers may access our application here.

Volunteers
Individuals interested in volunteering, which is helpful if you cannot cover full days, but might be available to assist with lunches, recess, etc., should contact your child’s principal. 

Masking
For any of our families who are finding it difficult to afford the needed masking for their child, please reach out to your child’s school. We are more than happy to provide the masks needed to assist in preventing infection. 

I continue to hope that we are nearing the peak of this latest surge and that we will begin to see cases decrease in the next week. In the interim, let’s remember to support one another through kindness and compassion as we continue to navigate the challenges of this virus. 

Sincerely,
Becky Foley, Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

January 14, 2022
 
Dear Staff and Families,
This has continued to be another tough week for COVID in RSU 5. We have had 112 new positive cases since my last letter: thirty-four at FHS, twenty-one at FMS, sixteen at DCS, fifteen at MSS, fourteen at MLS, eleven at PES, and one with district staff. In RSU5, we are now at 367  positive cases.
 
We continue to encourage everyone to participate in pooled testing and to become vaccinated. The website to sign up for vaccines is  https://vaccine.mainehealth.org 

To maintain in-person learning, it is critical that we grow our pool of qualified substitutes and volunteers. If you are able, we invite you to apply to be a substitute or volunteer in our schools. Individuals in these roles must go through a well-defined background check and approval process, which takes a bit of time.

Substitutes
Individuals interested in serving as substitute teachers may access our application here.

Volunteers
Individuals interested in volunteering, which is helpful if you cannot cover full days, but might be available to assist with lunches, recess, etc., should contact your child’s principal. 

Masking
For any of our families who are finding it difficult to afford the needed masking for their child, please reach out to your child’s school. We are more than happy to provide the masks needed to assist in preventing infection.

We received an updated Standard Operating Procedure this week. Below are some of the highlights:

  • We are allowing home tests for positive cases.
  • We are pausing contact tracing which is allowed under the new SOP for districts that are pooled testing or have universal masking.
  • For those who test positive for Covid, the best approach to continue keeping students and staff safe and continue in person learning is to use an antigen test on day five. If you test positive on the fifth day, you need to quarantine for 5 additional days. In RSU 5, we are happy to test any staff or student on day five or six before returning to school. 
  • Nurses will review the pooled test results weekly, and retest students who are in a positive pool.  The positive student’s parents will be notified. Parents not notified should assume their child is negative. 
  • You can review the entire updated document at Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

I’m hopeful that we are nearing the peak of this latest surge and that we will begin to see cases decrease in the next week. In the interim, let’s remember to support one another through kindness and compassion as we continue to navigate the challenges of this virus. 
 
Sincerely,
Becky Foley, Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

January 7, 2022
 
Dear Staff and Families,

Like districts around us, this has been a tough week for COVID in RSU 5. We have had 104 new positive cases since my last letter: thirty-six at FHS, twenty-five at DCS, fifteen at MLS, thirteen at FMS, nine at MSS, five at PES, and one with district staff. In RSU5, we are now at 255  positive cases.
 
We have resumed pooled testing. We are still awaiting some of the results of the pooled testing from the high school and middle school. The Maine CDC  granted permission to begin boosters for 12+. The website to sign up is  https://vaccine.mainehealth.org/ 

As I mentioned in my last letter, we are following the most recently revised standard operating procedures. The most recently updated SOP, can be accessed at this link: SOP. Some of the highlights include:

  • A positive case now requires only a 5 day quarantine. A positive case can return to school after 5 days as long as no fever is present, symptoms are improving, and a mask is worn around others.
  • Contact tracing is no longer required on a bus or for an outside activity.
  • In a school with face masking and pooled testing there is no requirement to quarantine from school for close contacts.
  • There are still quarantine expectations in the community depending on the individual circumstances.
  • Outbreak status is no longer defined as 3 cases in 14 days. It is now the same as any other illness, thus a school is not in outbreak status until they have 15% of the school community absent due to illness.

The daily demands of Covid are taking a toll on all of us. Let’s remember to support one another through kindness, compassion, and grace as we continue to navigate the challenges of this virus. Here’s hoping for a better Covid week next week!  
 
Sincerely,
Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

December 31, 2021

Dear RSU5 Families and Staff,

This is a quick update to the letter that I sent to you yesterday. Late yesterday you may have seen that the Department of Education has released the new updated guidelines. They can be found at the Department of Education website under Standard Operating Procedure. 

One of the biggest changes in the new guidelines is that the isolation and quarantine periods for students and staff are shortened, consistent with recently updated guidance from the U.S. CDC. 

The Department of Education (DOE) will still have a briefing on Monday afternoon with all superintendents. I expect that we will receive clarity, and have an opportunity for  questions to be answered.

In the meantime, any student or staff member testing positive or is symptomatic should remain out of school on Monday. If you have any doubt, please keep your child home and contact the school on Monday to receive guidance about next steps. 

As these new less restrictive guidelines are implemented, we will need to be more vigilant than ever about ensuring that we are wearing our masks properly and that we are practicing good hand sanitation. We recognize the impact that Covid continues to have on our families, kids, jobs, and our daily living. We are eager to return to normalcy as quickly as possible. 

Now, more than ever, we’re dependent on one another for our success in returning to “normalcy.” In the spirit of the holidays, I ask that we reach deeply within ourselves and extend patience, kindness and grace to one another as we continue to navigate the pandemic long after we all hoped it would be gone. Happy New Year’s Eve!

Sincerely,
Becky Foley, Superintendent
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

December 30, 2021

Dear RSU5 Families and Staff,

As we get ready to welcome 2022 into our lives, I hope you have found the December break to be restful and a time of rejuvenation!

As we continue to navigate Covid-19, you may have read or heard in the media about the potential change in quarantine requirements for those who are deemed to be close contacts. We are eager to get clarity on the new expectations and to begin implementing them as soon as possible. 

The Department of Education (DOE) will have a briefing on Monday afternoon with all superintendents. I expect that we will receive clarity, have our questions answered, and be able to implement the new guidelines rather quickly.

In the meantime, we recognize that there are some families who have been impacted by Covid over this past holiday break, and are wondering how the new federal guidelines impact their quarantine basis. Any student or staff member testing positive or is symptomatic or has been directed to quarantine should remain out of school on Monday. 

As soon as I receive notification that we can implement the new guidelines, I will send out a communication outlining the changes. We recognize the impact that Covid continues to have on our families, kids, jobs, and our daily living. We are eager to return to normalcy as quickly as possible. 

Now, more than ever, we’re dependent on one another for our success in returning to “normalcy.” In the spirit of the holidays, I ask that we reach deeply within ourselves and extend patience, kindness and grace to one another as we continue to navigate the pandemic long after we all hoped it would be gone. Here’s hoping for a successful 2022!

Sincerely,
Becky Foley, Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

December 22, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

We have had twelve new positive cases since my last letter: eight at DCS, three at FHS, and one at MSS. In RSU5, we are now at 151 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had twenty-six cases in the past fourteen days. 

There will be no pooled testing over the break or contact tracing by staff. Please report any positive cases to the schools by email. 

Midcoast Hospital continues to offer  appointments at the 81 Medical Drive site (next to the hospital) for boosters, and first and second doses. The website to sign up is: https://vaccine.mainehealth.org/ Continuing with masking and ensuring vaccination are two  of the best preventative measures to reduce transmission of the virus. 

I hope you and your family are able to enjoy the holiday break. I’m forever grateful for the support that you give to our students and staff in RSU 5. 
 
Happy holidays,

Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

December 16, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

We have had eight new positive cases since my last letter: three at DCS, two at FHS, one at MLS, one at FMS, and one district-wide position. In RSU5, we are now at 139 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had twenty-five cases in the past fourteen days. 

There will be no pooled testing over the break or contact tracing by staff. Please report any positive cases to the schools by email. 

Midcoast Hospital opened up appointments at the 81 Medical Drive site (next to the hospital) for boosters, first and second doses: for 12+ and 5-11 year olds. The website to sign up is: https://vaccine.mainehealth.org/

As we navigate this pandemic, our goal remains focused on keeping our students in schools for in person learning five days a week. As cases rise, we continue to be concerned about staff shortages and in school transmission. These are the two primary reasons that will force us to move to remote learning. Continuing with masking and encouraging vaccination  are two  preventative measures to reduce transmission of the virus. 
Thank you for your continued support during these challenging times!
 
Sincerely,

Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org
 

 

December 10, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

We have had seventeen new positive cases since my last letter: one at MLS, seven at DCS, six at FHS, and three at MSS. In RSU5, we are now at 131 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had forty-four cases in the past fourteen days. Our vaccination rate with our staff is at 95.78%.
 
Pooled testing continues to go well in all of our schools. I encourage everyone to consider this option. 

As we navigate this pandemic, our goal remains focused on keeping our students in schools for in person learning five days a week. As cases rise, we continue to be concerned about staff shortages and in school transmission. These are the two primary reasons that would force us to move to remote learning. Continuing with masking and encouraging vaccination  are two  preventative measures to reduce transmission of the virus. 

Thank you for your continued support during these challenging times!
 
Sincerely,


Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org


December 3, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

We have had twenty-nine new positive cases since my last letter: two at MLS, eight at DCS, four at PES, two at FMS, and thirteen at FHS. In RSU5, we are now at 114 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had thirty-five cases in the past fourteen days. Our vaccination rate with our staff remains at 95.74%. 

Pooled testing continues to go well in all of our schools. We have identified 15 positive cases through pooled testing.

I encourage everyone to consider this option. Thank you for your continued support during these challenging times!

Sincerely,


Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

November 23, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

We have had six new positive cases since my last letter:  four at DCS, one at MSS, and one at FHS. In RSU5, we are now at 85 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had eighteen cases in the past fourteen days. Our vaccination rate with our staff remains at 95.74%. 

Pooled testing continues to go well in all of our schools. I encourage everyone to consider enrolling in pooled testing. Due to the Thanksgiving break, pooled testing is not available in RSU 5 or throughout the state. If you are interested in having your child vaccinated, you can check with your local pharmacy or visit www.vaccines.gov to find a location near you that offers the vaccine needed. 

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude. I am filled with gratitude for your continued support during these challenging times. May you and your family have a joyous Thanksgiving! 
 
Sincerely,


Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

November 19, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

We have had fourteen new positive cases since my last letter: four at MLS,  two at DCS, four at MSS, one at PES, one at FMS, and two at FHS. In RSU5, we are now at 79 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had twenty-six cases in the past fourteen days. Our vaccination rate with our staff remains at 95.74%. 

Pooled testing continues to go well in all of our schools. I encourage everyone to consider this option. Due to the Thanksgiving break, pooled testing is not available throughout the state. 

We partnered with Freeport Community Center in vaccinating 75 of our younger students this week. Community clinics continue to be held at Coffin Elementary School in Brunswick.  These are open to any child ages 5-11.  To sign your child up for the Mid Coast Hospital clinic at Coffin School, please visit www.midcoasthealth.com/vaccine to make an appointment.

Thank you for your continued support during these challenging times!
 
Sincerely,


Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

November 12, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

It has not been a good week for COVID in RSU 5. We have had seventeen new positive cases since my last letter: eight at MLS,  seven at DCS, and two at MSS. In RSU5, we are now at 65 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had twenty cases in the past fourteen days. Our vaccination rate with our staff is 95.74%. Due to these increased numbers and in consultation with the CDC, Mast Landing School will have remote learning next week (November 15-19).

Pooled testing continues to go well in all of our schools. I encourage everyone to consider this option. We are partnering with Freeport Community Center in offering a clinic for younger students to get vaccinated. It filled up very quickly and we are unable to offer any more slots at this time. 

However, community clinics continued to be held at Coffin Elementary School in Brunswick.  These are open to any child ages 5-11.  To sign your child up for the Mid Coast Hospital clinic at Coffin School, please visit www.midcoasthealth.com/vaccine to make an appointment.

Thank you for your continued support during these challenging times!
 
Sincerely,


Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

November 5, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,
We have had four new positive cases since my last letter: one at FHS,  one at FMS, and two at MSS. In RSU5, we are now at 48 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had six cases in the past fourteen days. 

Pooled testing is up and running in all of our schools. I encourage everyone to consider this option as it is one more mitigation strategy to keep our healthy students in school five days a week.  I would also advise that even if you participate in pooled testing, you need to keep your child home if they are symptomatic. 

Our vaccination rate with our staff is 95.43%. 

Due to our collective efforts,  we are succeeding in keeping our schools open. Thank you for your continued support!
 
Sincerely,

Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org
 

November 5, 2021
 
Dear Parent or Guardian:

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11 years has now been authorized.  Vaccinating our children is the next step we can take in helping to end the pandemic. We are pleased to partner with Mid Coast Hospital to host the following:

  • An RSU 5  clinic will be held at Freeport Community Services on  November 18 from 3 pm – 6 pm.  This clinic is only open to students from RSU 5. To sign your child up for the clinic at Freeport Community Center, please complete the Registration, Consent, and CDC Pre Vaccination Checklist and bring the forms to the clinic on November 18th.  To sign your child up for the Mid Coast Hospital Clinic at Freeport Community Center, please visit this link to make an appointment.

  • Community clinics will also be held at Coffin Elementary School in Brunswick November 8-17.  These are open to any child ages 5-11.  To sign your child up for the Mid Coast Hospital clinic at Coffin School, please visit www.midcoasthealth.com/vaccine to make an appointment.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccination for children, there is a forum for parents and community members  on November 9th at 6:00.  Local pediatricians will share information about the COVID-19 vaccine for children.  Please register at  mecap.org/events to login to the public forum.    
 
Sincerely,


Becky Foley,  Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

October 29, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

We have had three new positive cases since my letter last week: one at FHS, and two at DCS. In RSU5, we are now at 44 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had seven cases in the past fourteen days. Our vaccination rate with our staff remains at 95.43%. 

As of this week, 74% of our eligible families at the elementary schools are opting into pooled testing. Pooled testing began at Freeport Middle School. We have 32% of our students participating in pooled testing at the middle school. Currently we have 8% of our students signed up for pooled testing at the high school. Pooled testing at the FHS  will begin Tuesday, November 2.  I encourage everyone to consider this option as it is one more mitigation strategy to keep our healthy students in school five days a week.  Whether  you participate in pooled testing or not, you need to keep your child home if they are symptomatic. 

Due to our continued collective efforts, we are succeeding in keeping our schools open. Thank you for your part in this ongoing effort!

Sincerely,


Becky Foley, Superintendent 

 

October 22, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,
We had four new positive cases since my letter last week: one at FHS, one at FMS, one at MLS, and one at DCS. In RSU5, we are now at 41 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had seven cases in the past fourteen days. Our vaccination rate with our staff remains at 95.43%. 

We are ahead of  schedule and will expand pooled testing to Freeport Middle School on Monday, October 25. We will begin pooled testing at the  Freeport High School on Tuesday, November 2.  I encourage everyone to consider this option as it is one more mitigation strategy to keep our healthy students in school five days a week.  Whether  you participate in pooled testing or not, you need to keep your child home if they are symptomatic. 

I have received a couple of questions in the past week. Attached is a communication outlining what you need to do for your child to return to school after being ill. I hope this clarifies some of the confusion that currently exists about when you can send your child back to school. 

Some have asked why we notify families about new COVID cases. As part of the “Standard Operating Procedure” that is provided by the Department of Education  and that is posted  on our website, the Maine CDC recommends that school community members be notified when a confirmed or probable case is detected that is associated with the school. This is one reason why I  send out a weekly communication and principals send out notification within 48 hours of knowing about new cases in their schools. This is not to raise fear in our community.  It is to keep everyone as well informed as we can. 

Due to our continued collective efforts, we are succeeding in keeping our schools open. Thank you for your part in this ongoing effort!
 
Sincerely,

Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org
 

October 15, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

We had five new positive cases since my last letter: one at MSS, one at PES, and three at DCS. In RSU5, we are now at 37 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had eight cases in the past fourteen days. 

We are on schedule to expand pooled testing to the middle and high school no later than Tuesday, November 2.  I encourage everyone to consider this option as it is one more mitigation strategy to keep our healthy students in school five days a week.  I would also advise that even if you participate in pooled testing, you need to keep your child home if they are symptomatic. 

According to the CDC data,  Freeport, South Freeport, and Pownal have a 99% vaccination rate, and Durham has a 97% rate of those who are eligible for a vaccine. Our vaccination rate with our staff is 95.43%. 

Due to our collective efforts,  we are succeeding in keeping our schools open. Thank you for your continued support!
 
Sincerely,


Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org

 

October 9, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,
We have had five new positive cases since my last letter: one at MSS, one at FHS, and three at DCS. In RSU5, we are now at 32 confirmed positive cases. We’ve had seven cases in the past fourteen days. 

We are working out the logistics for pooled testing at FMS and FHS. We anticipate beginning no later than Tuesday, November 2.  I encourage everyone to consider this option as it is one more mitigation strategy to keep our healthy students in school five days a week.  

According to the CDC data,  Freeport, South Freeport, and Pownal have a 99% vaccination rate, and Durham has a 97% rate of those who are eligible for a vaccine. Our vaccination rate with our staff has increased to  95.43%. Our rate with staff will next be updated in November. 

Due to our collective efforts,  we are succeeding in keeping our schools open. Please do not send your children to school if they are symptomatic. This creates situations where our healthy students are then sent home to quarantine when they would be better served being at school. 
 
Thank you for your continued support!
 
Sincerely,

Becky Foley, Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org
 

October 1, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

We  had three new positive cases since my last letter: one at PES and two at DCS. In RSU5, we are now at 27 confirmed positive cases. We had far fewer cases than last week and I hope this is an indicator that we may be trending down with our numbers. 

Our second week of pooled testing went well. Across the four schools, there was only one positive vial found. The follow up BINAX testing identified the positive case  and all contact tracing was completed. We have decided to expand the pooled testing to FMS and FHS.  This will begin no later than the beginning of November. Just as we did at the elementary schools, we are working out all of the logistics that are needed before beginning. I encourage everyone to consider this option as it is one more mitigation strategy to keep our healthy students in school five days a week.  

According to the CDC data,  Freeport, South Freeport, and Pownal have a 99% vaccination rate, and Durham has a 97% rate of those who are eligible for a vaccine. Our vaccination rate with our staff is 94.91%. Our rate with staff will be updated for October by my next update. We are currently collecting this data. 

Due to our collective efforts,  we are succeeding in keeping our schools open. Please do not send your children to school if they are symptomatic. This creates situations where our healthy students are then sent home to quarantine when they would be better served being at school. 

Thank you for your continued support!

 Sincerely,

Becky Foley, Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org
 

September 24, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

We  had ten new positive cases since my last letter: one at FMS, one at MLS, one at MSS, one at PES, and six at DCS. In RSU5, we are now at 24 confirmed positive cases. We are in contact with the CDC on a regular basis, and with our precautionary measures, we feel confident in remaining open for five day a week learning. 

Our first week of pooled testing went well. Across the four schools, there was only one positive vial found. The follow up BINAX testing identified the positive case  and all contact tracing was completed. Once we complete another week of pooled testing at the elementary level. we will decide whether to expand to FMS and FHS.  A reminder that we cannot accept the BINAX test results that are given at home. The “Covid rules” are created by the CDC as they have the most medical expertise. They adjust their procedures as they learn more, and we then update our procedures and follow their advice. 

According to the CDC data as of September 19, Freeport now has 372 reported cases, Durham has 191, South Freeport remains at 6-19 cases, and Pownal remains at 20-49 cases. Freeport, South Freeport, and Pownal have a 99% vaccination rate, and Durham has a 97% rate of those who are eligible for a vaccine. Our vaccination rate with our staff is 94.91%. Our rate with staff will be updated monthly. We are required to have the next round of data in by October 10. 
  
Together I am confident that we can succeed. Please do not send your children to school if they are symptomatic. This creates situations where our healthy students are then sent home to quarantine when they would be better served being at school. 
 
I want to acknowledge that this is not easy for any of us as we were hoping the pandemic would be far behind us by now.  Thank you for your continued support!
 
Sincerely,

Becky Foley 
Superintendent 
foleyb@rsu5.org
 

 

September 18, 2021

 Dear Staff and Families,

We have just finished our third week of the school year. We  had two new positive cases this week in RSU5: one at FHS and one at MSS. All contact tracing was completed.  Even if your child is vaccinated, we will notify you by email if your child is considered a close contact so that you can monitor him/her closely. 

We are in outbreak status at DCS and FHS. We will probably be in that status all year long because to get out of that status, you need to go 28 days without a case. Based upon how the data is trending and our data from last year, I do not see us going 28 days without a case at either of those schools.

In RSU5, we are now at 14 confirmed cases. This exceeds the 13 cases that we had in January and March which were our highest monthly case counts last year.   

 I’m happy to report that we had 39 participants at our Q & A on pooled testing this past week. Currently, 57% of our eligible families are opting into pooled testing. We are ready to begin the pooled testing on Monday at our four elementary schools. Once we are up and running. we will decide whether to expand to FMS and FHS.

Together we can succeed. I want to thank you for your support as we continue to navigate COVID and adapt our routines as necessary to keep staff and students safe.

Sincerely,


Becky Foley 
Superintendent RSU5

 

September 10, 2021

Dear Families,

We hope you will be able to attend a question/answer session next week on Tuesday, September 14th from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. on pooled testing. This will be a Zoom meeting that can be accessed at https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/86113296774  Webinar ID: 861 1329 6774 or by telephone at  1-312-626-6799.  Dr. Stephanie Phelps, our school physician, will be joining us to answer your medical questions around pooled testing. Abigail Leavitt, school nurse at PES, will also be available for questions as she is coordinating RSU5’s pooled testing efforts. We have created a FAQ sheet that can be accessed HERE.

I hope to provide you with an update on where we are with the logistics of pooled testing as we prepare to begin testing students and staff on Monday, September 20, 2021 in all of our elementary schools.  

Since my letter to you last week, we have had nine additional cases in RSU 5: four at DCS, one at MSS, and four at FHS. We have had a total of twelve cases since school has begun. DCS and FHS are now in “outbreak status.” Our biggest concern is the number of students needing to quarantine. To lessen this number, we encourage you to have your child vaccinated or to participate in pooled testing. Additionally, if your child is symptomatic, please do not send them to school. 

I want to thank you for your support as we continue to navigate these challenging times!

​​With gratitude,


Dr. Becky J. Foley
Superintendent of RSU5

 

September 8, 2021

Dear Staff, and Families, 

This letter is to inform you that due to recent cases at Freeport High School and Durham Community School, these two schools have been identified to be in “outbreak status”  by the Maine CDC. An outbreak status means that there are three or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period that are not linked to the same family.  

The biggest change that occurs when in outbreak status is that we are required to contact trace everyone in a classroom rather than limit it to others who are within a 3 foot radius. The only way out of having to quarantine is either by having been vaccinated or by participating in pooled testing. We hope to have pooled testing available as of September 20 at DCS. The available option at FHS at this time is through being vaccinated. 

A school representative will contact you directly if you are identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive. Close contacts will be asked to quarantine for 10-days from last exposure to the positive individual. A negative test result does not get an individual out of quarantine.

Although we have shared these practices and suggestions previously, I do want to reinforce the importance of individual responsibility in helping all of our students stay healthy and remain in school. We ask that you continue to monitor symptoms daily, and have your child follow all the same guidelines for facemasks, social distancing, and hand sanitizing even when they are not at school.  Limiting social interactions is also very beneficial during this time.  If you have any doubts if your child has symptoms, then please keep them home until you are confident they are fine or you have an alternate diagnosis. Based on recommendations from the Maine CDC, we are also cleaning the school/classrooms to help prevent spread of COVID-19. 

Questions for the schools can be directed to Principal Gulko and Emily Guyer at FHS or Principal Pidden and Kim Gormely at DCS. For general COVID-19 questions, dial 211 (or 1-866-811-5695). Call a health care provider for questions about your symptoms. More information can be found at www.rsu5.org.  We remain steadfast in our commitment to in person learning in RSU 5. Through the collective efforts of our staff, parents, students and community members, we can get through this. We appreciate your support and partnership during these challenging times! 

Sincerely,


Becky Foley
Superintendent RSU5

 

September 2, 2021
 
Dear Staff and Families,

We have just finished our first week of the new school year. We are excited to have all students back in school and learning five days a week! This year,  I will be sending out a weekly update when we have positive COVID cases, rather than the daily ones you received last year. We have had three positive cases this week: one at FHS and two at DCS. All contact tracing has been completed. 
 
Our goal is to navigate the school year with as few cases as possible. This will take the collective efforts of all of us.  We ask that you monitor symptoms daily, and have your child follow all the same guidelines for facemasks, social distancing, and hand washing even when they are not at school. If you have any doubts if your child has symptoms, then please keep them home until you are confident they are fine or you have an alternate diagnosis. We also encourage you to inform the school as soon as you know your child has tested positive.  

Together we can succeed. I want to thank you for your support as we continue to navigate these pandemic times!

Sincerely,

Becky Foley 
Superintendent RSU 5

 

August 29, 2021

Dear Families and Staff,

We’re so excited to offer the opportunity of pooled testing to our families in RSU 5.  We were not able to offer this mitigation strategy last year. Pooled testing will significantly reduce the impact of needing to quarantine our youngest and unvaccinated learners. This is not available for the first day of school, but we are working to have it available soon for our students at DCS, PES, MLS, and MSS. The pooled testing program is funded by the Maine Department of Education and is free to students and staff who participate. 

General Information. Pooled testing involves mixing several test samples together in a “batch” or “pool” and testing the pooled sample with a PCR test for detection of COVID-19. If a pooled test result is negative, then all individuals within that pool are presumed negative and may remain in school. If a pooled test result is positive, then all individuals in the pool must be retested individually with a rapid antigen test to identify the positive case. Only the individual testing positive must be sent home to quarantine. 

Benefits of Pooled Testing.  

  • Multiple factors make pooled testing an effective mitigation strategy, including the lack of access to vaccines in this age group. 
  • Pooled testing is another tool, along with masking, handwashing, and isolating symptomatic individuals, to keep communities safe, reduce transmission, and build confidence that it’s safe to go to school.
  • Pooled testing provides additional information to school buildings and the district about the prevalence of the virus in our school community.
  • Pooled testing is a mitigation strategy for working parents who find it difficult to take time off of work when non-symptomatic children have to quarantine. This eliminates the need for students participating in the pooled testing having to quarantine, unless he/she is the individual testing positive. 

Procedures for Pooled Testing.

  • Testing takes place weekly. In most cases this will likely be a self-swab in their classrooms. 
  • The swab is a gentle process in the front of the nose only and should cause no discomfort. 
  • Testing an entire classroom or cohort usually takes about 10-15 minutes and speeds up after the first day. 
  • It will usually take 24-48 hours to receive pooled test results. No one needs to quarantine while awaiting pooled test results. 
  • If the pooled test returns with a positive result, then individual tests are given on all participants within the pooled testing. 
  • Once the positive case is identified, that individual is sent home to quarantine. Anyone else who is not participating in the pooled testing in the classroom may have to quarantine depending on distancing requirements and the minutes exposed to the positive case.  The RSU 5 nurses will be consulting with the CDC about the students and staff needing to quarantine who are not participating in the pooled testing. This consultation with the CDC will be the same as last year.
  • Those who are in the pooled testing, not having tested positive, will not have to quarantine. 

Participation. A permission sign-off to participate or opt out of pooled testing will be sent out once we are ready to begin the testing. There will be two permission slips to sign, one to participate in pooled testing, and secondly, one for Binex Test to be administered if needed. Without a signed consent, a student cannot participate in pooled testing. This is strictly a voluntary program. 

The entire reopening plan can be fully accessed HERE.  Please feel free to email me with any other questions or concerns. We hope to have the pooled testing operational as soon as possible. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Becky J. Foley
Superintendent of RSU5

August 27, 2021

Dear Families and Staff,

We are excited to welcome students back to school beginning Monday, August 30. This past Wednesday, the RSU 5 Board of Directors passed our reopening plan unanimously. Below are the highlights from the plan that can be fully accessed HERE.

  • Returning to Full In-Person Learning. We’re excited to welcome students back to full, in- person learning. There is no hybrid model in the revised plan. We will pivot between green and red. Red will be used when classes, grade levels, or schools need to learn remotely due to quarantining. We hope this is a rare occurrence this year.
     
  • Masking. Like most districts in our vicinity, we will require all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors. They are already required on buses, vans and other modes of transportation. Masks may be removed outdoors, while eating/drinking, or on mask breaks. Mask breaks will occur daily.
     
  • Stay home when sick. Students who have symptoms of infectious illness should stay home until no longer symptomatic. Staying home when sick is essential to keeping infections out of the schools and preventing the spread to others. Families will be required to screen their children daily before sending them to school.
     
  • Pooled Testing: We have decided to move forward with pooled testing at MSS, MLS, DCS, and PES. Our youngest students are most vulnerable as the vaccine is not yet available to them. Our application for pooled testing has been accepted. We will begin this program as soon as possible.
     
  • Vaccinations. The COVID vaccine is widely available and remains the best approach to protecting the health of our children and one another. We encourage all students and staff who have not yet been vaccinated to seek out the guidance of their family physician. Data released yesterday from the DOE/DHHS on our students shows that of those eligible, 90- 94% of our students are vaccinated.

We can’t wait to see your children on Monday! Please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns. Thanks for your continued support.

With gratitude,

 
   

Dr. Becky J. Foley Superintendent of RSU5

 

August 13, 2021

Dear RSU5 Families and Staff, 

I hope you are enjoying your summer! The first day of school is quickly approaching. We will be returning to full time, in-person learning on August 30th. We have drafted a return to school plan that the Board is expected to adopt on August 25th.  There will be a question/answer session next week on Tuesday, August 17th from 4:30-5:30 via Zoom. You can attend via Zoom at: https://networkmaine.zoom.us/j/82510706311  Webinar ID: 825 1070 6311 or Join by Telephone at 1 646 876 9923

Amid new data about the virus, federal and state health authorities are now recommending that all staff and students wear masks in school, regardless of vaccination status. I am recommending to the Board that we require universal masking for all students and staff in RSU5 while indoors beginning August 30th.  Due to federal requirements, we already mask while on any public transportation such as buses or vans. Staff will be allowed to unmask when they are alone in their individual work spaces. 

We will strive to have as much distancing as possible between students. Our first priority is to have all students back to learning five days a week while having a classroom set up that is most conducive to learning. 

We will continue asking students and families to do a daily symptom self-screening before sending their children to school. We will resume having parents, visitors, and volunteers in our buildings. Any visitors will be required to follow our health and safety protocols. 

The most recent state operating procedures continue to be revised. We will continue to follow these protocols and procedures for close contact tracing and will revise as needed as conditions change. 

During the past school year, masking and other protocols helped to keep our schools safe. The majority of COVID cases in RSU5 originated from contacts outside of school, not from within. Like last year, with everyone’s cooperation, we can have a successful return to five-day instruction this fall. As always, I appreciate your support as we strive to provide a quality education for all of our students.  Enjoy the remaining days of summer!

Sincerely,
Becky Foley 
Superintendent