St. John Valley

Dr. Levesque Elementary moves to remote learning as more COVID-19 cases detected at Valley Unified schools

This story has been updated.

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — Students at Dr. Levesque Elementary School and Fort Kent Elementary School are the latest attending Valley Unified schools to move to a remote learning model as a result of COVID-19. 

Dr. Levesque moved to the remote learning model last week when one student tested positive for the virus. 

The Dr. Levesque student was last on school grounds on Monday, Jan. 25, and is at home in isolation from the school, according to Valley Unified executive director and superintendent of all Valley Unified schools, Ben Sirois.

Fort Kent Elementary School moved to a remote learning model on Monday, Feb. 1. 

“The shift to remote is inevitable given the impact community spread has had on our students and staff, and at this time we feel that we must place the safety of our students and staff in the forefront of our decision making,” Sirois said. “Presently, we do not have enough staff members on hand to effectively manage in-person learning.”

Valley Unified Education Service Center oversees schools in SAD 33 — Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville and Wisdom Middle/High School in St. Agatha; SAD 27– Fort Kent Community High School, Valley Rivers Middle School and Fort Kent Elementary School in Fort Kent; and Madawaska School Department. 

Students attending Fort Kent Community High School and Valley Rivers Middle School moved to a remote learning model beginning Monday, Jan. 25, after one student at each of the schools tested positive for COVID-19 last weekend. 

School administrators decided to move to the remote learning model at the Valley Unified schools due to the need for staff members at the schools to enter 10-day quarantines as a result of their interactions with those who tested positive for the virus. 

“Presently, we do not have enough staff members on hand to effectively manage in-person learning,” Sirois said in a Jan. 31 letter addressed to Fort Kent Elementary School families. 

As of Friday, Jan. 29, thirteen people associated with Fort Kent Community High School and Valley Rivers Middle School had tested positive for COVID-19. 

Two of the people were the most recent to attend school on Friday, Jan. 22. 

Three of the Fort Kent students who tested positive for COVID-19 since last weekend were also associated with St. John Valley Technology Center in Frenchville. 

St. John Valley Technology Center remains open for in-school learning as of Monday, Feb. 1.

The COVID-19 cases among students and staff members at the schools appears to be the result of community transmission, Sirois said. 

“To date, we have zero confirmed cases that we know were due to school spread,” Sirois said.  “Each of our confirmed cases has come from community spread.”

“We feel that if the community were behaving more like the schools, we would have far less community spread,” Sirois said. 

Valley Unified schools moved to remote learning in December due to community spread of the virus. 

Students in SAD 27 moved to a remote learning model on Tuesday, Dec. 8, due to an outbreak of COVID-19 at a local business.

SAD 33 students moved to the remote learning model Thursday, Dec. 17, also in response to an outbreak of COVID-19 at business in that area.

Madawaska School Department students moved to remote learning on Friday, Dec. 18, after two people at Madawaska Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19. 

A school integration plan following the December holiday break called for all Valley Unified schools moved to a hybrid learning model beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19, which was expected to continue through Friday, Jan. 29. 

On Monday, Feb. 1, the students were to begin a full on-site reintegration at the schools.

Wisdom Middle/High School, and Madawaska School Department schools returned to in-school learning on that date.  

Van Buren School District (SAD 24), which is not associated with Valley Unified, also continues with in person learning.

University of Maine at Fort Kent reported five active cases of the virus among students and employees on its Campus COVID-19 Dashboard on Monday, Feb, 1. 

The positive cases were discovered through routine asymptomatic testing of UMFK community members as the campus returned to the start of classes for the Spring 2021 semester on Monday, Jan. 25. 

UMFK continues with in person learning and the persons who tested positive for COVID-19 are currently in isolation. 

On Monday, Feb. 1, the Maine Center for Disease Control reported 1,146 active cases of COVID-19 in Aroostook County, and 39,543 in the state.

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