Updated: Athletics suspended for Waldo County students through week’s end after fourth positive COVID-19 case

School Covid cases reportedly connected to Brooks church outbreak
Tue, 10/20/2020 - 5:30pm

    A second test of the presumed positive COVID-19 case at Captain Albert Stevens School has come back negative, RSU 71 Superintendent Mary Alice McLean shared in an Oct. 20 update. 

    “I am relieved to report that the second test of yesterday’s presumed positive case at [CASS] has again come back negative,” the statement begins. 

    McLean also shared that the primary contacts of positive cases at Troy Howard Middle School, CASS, and Ames have all tested negative for COVID-19 so far. 

    The statement concludes with a reminder to the community to stay safe. 

    “Please keep wearing those masks, staying at a safe social distance from everyone, and sanitizing your hands. Surely these things have had a role in mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.”

    In an update shared Oct. 19, RSU 71 Superintendent Mary Alice McLean reported that a presumed positive second case of COVID-19 has been discovered at Belfast’s Captain Albert Stevens School. That brings the total known positive cases in RSU 71 to four. 

    McLean wrote “As you probably know from local news reports, there has been an outbreak of COVID-19 in Brooks, and it appears that the positive cases in our school district are related to that outbreak.

    “I’ve received questions about why the different cases in RSU 71 have occasioned different timelines and responses. The answer is that we have stayed in very close contact with the CDC,  are using their definition of close contact, and following their recommendations to the letter.

    “A person is a close contact if they have been within six feet of the infected individual for 15 minutes or longer. Thus the handling of each case depends on the close contacts of the positive or presumed positive case. CDC recommends against a blanket approach that would exclude secondary contacts and swathes of buildings unrelated to a positive case,” the release reads in part. 

    While McLean said she wishes for students and staff to stay for in-person activities whenever it is safe to do so, she also notes: “we also want to be extremely careful and cautious in response to this virulent virus. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of each member of our community.”

    All of the close contacts in each case in RSU 71 have been contacted, including unified arts teachers, and specialists in the areas of speech and language, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. 

    Additionally, the decision has been made to suspend athletic and co-curricular activities for the remainder of the week. 

    “Student-athletes at Belfast Area High School have been immersed in various sports for the past 15 weeks, since July 6. The fall season formally ends on November 14, and we very much hope to get back to practices and competitions next week. We will reschedule other events planned for this week, including the fall musical, jazz band, and National Honor Society,” according to the release.

    McLean also implored each member of the community to take “this dastardly pandemic seriously.

    “It is invisible but real and potentially deadly, a covert and subversive virus that would have us keep our students from getting the education they so richly deserve. Students and staff have been simply superb about following all safety protocols while in school, but all of us also need to follow these protocols when not in school. Wear a face mask. Maintain safe social distance, even from the friends and relatives you love. Practice hand hygiene, wash your hands with soap and warm water at every opportunity, and use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. I am positive that we can beat this if we all work together and follow safety protocols.”

    The update concludes with McLean sending “well wishes and fervent hopes for a speedy recovery of all infected and affected by Covid-19.”

    As of Oct. 19, Waldo County has 46 positive COVID-19 cases, with 19 new cases reported today.

    Erica Thoms can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com