A student at Maranacook Community Middle School has had a “probable positive” test for COVID-19, causing the school to immediately switch to fully remote learning. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

READFIELD — After a probable positive COVID-19 case was reported Monday at Maranacook Community Middle School, parent Jenna Wight is worried “more cases will show up” in Regional School Unit 38 because of the way the district is handling the case.

When the probable positive COVID-19 case was announced Monday, Superintendent Jay Charette addressed the district in a letter posted to the RSU 38 website.

In the letter, Charette announced that Maranacook Community Middle School would be fully remote through Oct. 13. Maranacook High School, located next to the middle school, he wrote, will be remote for two days and reopen Oct. 1 after “deep cleaning.”

Previously, the schools were conducting in-person learning, according to Wight.

Mount Vernon, Readfield and Wayne elementary schools will still be open, the letter said.

“My concern is that they are going to have a bigger outbreak because keeping the elementary schools open isn’t preventing the spread,” said Wight, who has a child attending Maranacook Community High School and one at Readfield Elementary School.

She received a call from the school at 2 p.m. Monday alerting her that her high schooler may have been exposed to the coronavirus through the sibling of the middle school student thought to have COVID-19. Wight’s elementary-aged younger daughter, however, plays travel soccer with the student with the probably COVID-19 positive, but she was not called about that exposure.

Cindy Bailey, director of the Maranacook Travel Soccer Club, however, said Wight’s daughter is not on the same team as the affected student. She said children that came into direct contact with the middle school student that tested probable positive for COVID-19 were contacted by the Maine Center for Disease Control.

Since the call about her high schooler’s possible exposure was not from the Maine Center for Disease Center, Wight has been told her younger child is still expected to attend Readfield Elementary School, despite the contact she has had in the past week though sports and her sister.

According to Robert Long, the spokesperson for the Maine CDC, there is no “outbreak investigation” open for Maranacook Community Middle School. He added that it’s important to note that the Maine CDC reports “confirmed” and “probable” test results, and “presumptive positive” was a term used when the state had to send their results to the federal CDC.

Other parents of children that attend RSU 38 schools were outspoken on Facebook about their concerns and confusion regarding contact tracing involving other siblings, similar to Wight’s situation.

On the RSU 38 website, it states that if someone in the family has had a positive COVID-19 test, the student is still able to go to school if they do not have any symptoms.

Those guidelines were created by the school nurses who went off the Department of Educations’ Back to School Plan, Charette said, of what was “acceptable at the time.” He directed families to the CDC if they would like more guidance with questions concerning COVID-19.

However, the CDC advises against that, saying all members of a household where someone has tested positive for the virus must quarantine for 14 days, and people that are asymptomatic can still spread the virus.

When she contacted the school to ask about remote learning for her child in elementary school, Wight said she was told it wasn’t necessary for the student to do so.

“They [Readfield Elementary] told me they would send her work for today and tomorrow, but that they expect her in school Thursday,” Wight said, “which we as her parents are not happy about.”

She was told by school officials Readfield Elementary was “not affected,” and the conclusion “blows her mind.”

Charette said that RSU 38’s elementary schools are not equipped to go remote at this time.

“We haven’t been able to get everything in place,” he said. “If they’re sick, and it’s for safety, it’s expected that the adult will make the choice if they want to keep their child at home and we will provide the work.”

Wight thinks the correct approach is for all of the district’s schools to go remote for two weeks, not just the middle school. Since it is a community school, she said, students of all ages come into contact with each other though siblings and riding the buses.

Charette said the student with the probably positive rides a Manchester bus. Since the presumed positive test, he said, all of the RSU 38 buses were deep cleaned according to CDC guidelines.

As for her high schooler, Wight has not received instructions on their return to school.

“I’d like them to treat all kids and parents the same,” she said. “I’d like their safety (to come) first and also to take this virus more seriously.”

Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta, where some Maranacook Community High School students attend technical classes, has not heard from the CDC in regards to any possible COVID-19 cases among students. CATC will resume classes on Tuesday without Maranacook High School students, but the Maranacook students will be allowed to come back on Thursday, Oct. 1.

At Cony Middle and High School, where CATC is located, Athletic Director Jon Millett posted to Cony’s Facebook Page about the importance of mask compliance moving forward, especially since the district is set to compete against RSU 38 in sports this fall.

“We have had some compliance issues with social distancing and masks,” he wrote. “Some people have been great, others have not been in compliance with these issues. We need your help in order to ensure sports can continue and/or the opportunity to view these events live can occur.”

He added that if spectators do not follow the rules, there may not be any sports at all.

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