12 positive COVID-19 cases among Maine South students linked to parties
Even with a plan of remote learning to start the school year, Maine South High School is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.
In an email sent to parents on Sunday, Maine South Principal Ben Collins announced that dozens of students may have been exposed to COVID-19 as a result of numerous gatherings Aug. 14-17.
After two positive COVID-19 test results were confirmed on Sunday, the number of positive cases ballooned to 12 on Tuesday, according to District 207 superintendent Ken Wallace, and could rise.
"We have repeatedly said in the online sessions that we all want our students back in school," Collins said in the email. "For that to happen, the rules outside the school cannot differ from the rules inside the school ... and large parties are not going to help."
Because of the outbreak, Maine South shifted Monday's Senior Day events online and announced this week's orientation for sophomores and juniors will be conducted virtually. Freshman orientation took place last week.
Virtual classes remained as scheduled.
Students receiving special education services on campus still can attend as planned this week, and students in specialized courses that require in-person instruction will be brought in as much as safely allowable.
"We hope that this early setback is used as a learning experience that illustrates the important role that our students and parents play in how they follow safety protocols outside of school," Wallace said.
Because the outbreak affected only Maine South, District 207 orientation events at Maine East and Maine West are occurring as scheduled.
Collins and Wallace noted the difficulty in contact tracing, which led to the cancellation of in-person orientation. Wallace said as of Tuesday afternoon 94 students were identified as part of the contract tracing protocol.
"For this protocol to work, it requires complete cooperation and honesty with all parties and unfortunately, we did not have that from some families," Collins said. "It makes the process impossible if we're not able to quickly figure out which students were present where and with whom."