Jon Moody, superintendent of Maine School Administrative District 54, speaks at a board meeting in August. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

SKOWHEGAN — Local school officials said they’re still aware of only one COVID-19 case at the Skowhegan Area High School, but were informed of a case at Mill Stream Elementary School on Friday.

This news comes a day after a student in Maine School Administrative District 54 tested positive and an in-town charter school reported as many as 13 cases.

Superintendent Jon Moody sent a notice to the community Friday night, alerting families that a student at Mill Stream Elementary had tested positive for COVID-19. In the letter Moody said after contacting Maine Department of Education and the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention, the district asked staff at the elementary school to stay home and provide remote learning to students, as had already been planned following the report of a case in the high school.

According to the letter from Moody, school administrators and nursing staff have worked with the Maine CDC to determine who had close contact with the individual who tested positive. Those people have been called and told to quarantine. Contact tracers with the Maine CDC will be reaching out to those as well.

The district hopes to welcome students back Tuesday, but will be working with the Maine CDC to make an informed decision on if it is safe for students to return to school facilities. The letter says an update on the return to school will be sent no later than Monday afternoon.

Moody sent a letter Wednesday, alerting families that a student at Skowhegan Area High School had tested positive for COVID-19, prompting schools to close for at least the remainder of the week. Thursday night, he told the school board that the district is still only aware of the one positive case.

“We knew we had students who had been in contact with people at (Community Regional Charter School) who were positive,” Moody said Thursday. “Yesterday, we sent emails to the staff to have all devices ready to go home with the kids.”

Later in the day he said the administration found out that a student had tested positive. He said his first call was to Maine Centers for Disease Control to start gathering a list of close contacts. Since there was not immediately enough information to determine whether the close contacts were just at the high school, the decision was made proactively to close all schools districtwide for the remainder of the week.

School nurses also came together to work with administration and staff to help identify who may have been exposed. An updated list was provided to Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the district is waiting for more guidance about what to do next.

“What I think will happen is that we return students K-8 and may … continue learning remotely for 9-12,” Moody said. This decision is not set, and he added if more positive cases show up, changes may be necessary.

“It takes three (positive cases) to close down a school,” Moody said. “We don’t want our schools to be a place to spread the virus, and we really need our kids in school if at all possible.”

On Thursday, the executive director of the Community Regional Charter School confirmed that within their school system, there were 13 cases of COVID-19.

Travis Works, director at Community Regional Charter School, said that one of the employees within the MSAD 54 district was identified as a close contact with someone who tested positive. Some families are split between the schools, while some parents work at the charter school and have children in MSAD 54 or vice-versa, he said.

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