St. John Valley

Fort Kent middle and high school students return to remote learning after 2 positive COVID-19 cases

FORT KENT, Maine — Students attending Fort Kent Community High School and Valley Rivers Middle School moved back to a remote learning model for at least 10 days beginning Monday, Jan. 25, after one student at each of the schools tested positive for COVID-19.

The two schools share a Main Street building.

Superintendent Ben Sirois announced the decision in a Sunday evening letter, which said that a Valley Rivers Middle School student had tested positive for the virus.  

The student was last in school on Thursday, Jan. 21. 

Earlier on Sunday, Sirois shared a letter notifying parents that a Fort Kent Community High School student who also attends St. John Valley Technology Center in Frenchville tested positive for the virus. That student was last in school on Friday, Jan. 22, Sirois said.

Both coronavirus-positive students are in isolation at their homes and will not return to school until they are cleared by their primary care physicians or the CDC, Sirois said. 

Administrators chose to return students to the remote learning model due to many staff members being in quarantine as a result of close contact with the middle school student.

“Because this case impacts many of the VRMS staff, we will not be able to have in-person instruction for students and cover classrooms for teachers to teach remotely,” Sirois said. 

“Close contact is defined by the CDC as being ‘within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period’,” Sirois said. “The standard for close contacts in school however is any students and/or staff who occupied the same space (i.e. classroom, locker room, bus) with the infectious person. 

“Any students or staff that share the same space as an infectious person at school is considered a close contact and must quarantine,” Sirois added. “This does not include walking past someone in the hallway. The individuals must share the same space.”

SAD 27 school nurse Monique Michaud said contact tracing showed the student at the high school who tested positive for the virus only came into close contact with three staff members, whereas the student at the middle school who tested positive came into close contact with nine staff members.

All of those staff members and students who came into close contact with the COVID-19 positive students will be in quarantine for at least 10 days and the staff members will be tested for COVID-19 between five and seven days after exposure. 

Fort Kent Elementary School is not affected and will continue with the current hybrid learning model, Sirois said. St. John Valley Technology Center will also remain open. 

Sirois said that parents of all students considered close contacts of the infected students have been notified.

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