FARMINGTON – Regional School Unit 9 Board of Directors met Tuesday evening to discuss an update to the standard operating procedures in regards to COVID-19. The meeting followed a change in recent recommendations from the Maine State Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
All proposed changes were approved by board members.
The biggest change is the number of days that positively tested individuals are expected to quarantine. Until now that expectation was set at 10 days, but has since been reduced to five. Director of Curriculum Laura Columbia highlighted that in some situations, district nurses can extend that quarantine period, if, for example, the student is still showing symptoms after the five day quarantine.
In addition, universal masking has been added as an exemption from needing to quarantine. Since RSU 9 participates in a universal masking mandate, the only individuals who will need to quarantine are those that test positive or those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Columbia also noted that students who are identified as a close contact, but are not vaccinated and do not participate in pooled testing will need to quarantine from the outside community.
Several SOP changes were made by the Department of Education, and RSU board members approved following DOE recommendations. Noteworthy changes include that a COVID-19 exposure that occurs outside or on a school bus does not constitute as a close contact.
Close contacts must quarantine for five days, unless they meet at least one of the following exemptions: is fully vaccinated and boosted if possible, participates in pooled testing, participating in universal masking, or has tested positive in the last 90 days.
As of Jan. 3, 32 people associated with the district tested positive and 24 additional people were identified as close contacts. Following the new guidelines, only one of those close contacts are required to quarantine. The remaining individuals were exempt based on one or more of the above rules.