Wiscasset’s superintendent of schools said she expects Maine Center for Disease Control’s updated guidance for schools handling a positive COVID-19 case will let more students attend school in-person or not be out as long.
“It’s a win-win situation for staff, students, and families,” Dr. Terry Wood wrote Dec. 30 in response to an email seeking her initial thoughts on the changes Maine CDC and Maine Department of Education announced that afternoon.
The state’s news release states the changes reflect the U.S. CDC’s updated guidance on quarantine and isolation times, and aim to help keep students in the classroom while protecting their and the staff’s health and safety. MDOE and Maine CDC will gather input from school administrators on more possible changes “in light of the Omicron variant. These potential changes would continue to prioritize in-person learning and help keep children safely in the classroom,” the release adds.
Besides the shorter quarantines and isolations, the changes announced Dec. 30 will have Maine CDC open an outbreak investigation if 15% of a school population is absent; exposure outdoors or on a school bus will no longer be considered close contact with a case; and now if someone takes part in pooled testing, they will not have to quarantine even if exposed to the virus outside school. The prior guidance exempted pooled testing participants from quarantine only if the exposure was in school, according to the release.
Dec. 14, Wood told the school committee healthy students were having long and sometimes multiple quarantines due to Maine CDC’s COVID procedures. The committee meets next on Jan. 11.