March 6, 2020
This message provides an update on the Yarmouth School Department’s work as we respond to rapidly evolving information regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus). We are monitoring the changing circumstances and continue to rely on guidance from the Maine CDC and Maine Department of Education as we consider the many challenges that are created by those circumstances. As with all our work, student and staff safety is our highest priority.
At this point, our immediate focus remains on reducing the risk of exposure and slowing the spread of COVID-19, specifically in schools. We are doing this by:
· Requiring that staff members and students who are sick with a fever remain at home until at least 24 hours after being fever-free without the aid of pharmaceuticals;
· Encouraging and instructing students and staff on proper handwashing;
· Ensuring classrooms are stocked with hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes;
· Increasing daily cleaning measures in schools and on buses to provide disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces.
If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our community, Maine CDC will work with us to determine the appropriate response, which may include school closure (NOTE: As of this date, there are no cases in Maine). If that occurs for an extended period, it would be our intent to provide remote learning opportunities through our electronic communication and on-line learning platforms. There is much to be worked out if that is to occur, and we are working daily to develop plans and protocols that would allow us to employ such a plan.
As of today, we do not plan on cancelling local school events or gatherings. We do have long-distance student trips to consider in the coming weeks. Some of these trips are out-of-state, while others are overseas. Clearly, these deserve greater consideration, and we are in the process of determining the opportunities for postponement or refunding of expenses as part of our planning process. We recognize the value of these trips for our students, but must consider the risks to their health and the health of others with whom they may come into contact. We will consider guidance from public health officials when making those decisions.
I apologize if this notice causes alarm. I want to reiterate that there are no cases at this time in Maine, and no specific reason for us to be more concerned than any other community; I simply wanted you to know, as this week draws to a close, that we are continuing to engage with health officials on this matter, and our response plan is evolving daily.
Andrew Dolloff, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools