Travis Works, executive director of the Community Regional Charter School, said Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Works is pictured on Feb. 13, 2019, on the second floor of Overman Academy in downtown Skowhegan where Somerset County Court used to be situated. Morning Sentinel file

Community Regional Charter School, formerly the Cornville Charter School, continues to assess the outbreak situation as case numbers within the three schools reached 16 Monday.

Travis Works, executive director of the Charter School, said that over the weekend, numbers of confirmed cases increased to 16, himself included. Of the 16, 10 cases are adults and six are students.

“In all honesty, if I hadn’t taken the test, I would never have known I was positive. The symptoms were so mild and not out of the ordinary, which to me makes this virus very dangerous and concerning,” Works said in a message Monday. “The other factor that is a concern is that people test too early and they may not wait the 5-7 days after exposure or 48 hours after symptoms start.”

The case breakdown:

• Creative Children’s Academy in Skowhegan: 4 confirmed.

• Dimensions Academy in Cornville: 1 confirmed.

• Overman Academy and Eaton Mountain in Skowhegan: 11 confirmed.

For now, Works added, he is working closely to monitor symptoms and test results of staff and students to make informed decisions about the return date. He is anticipating that students at Creative Children’s Academy in Skowhegan will return on Oct. 19 and the rest will return on Oct. 20, but those decisions are not set in stone as he is waiting to learn more information in the coming days.

In a message to families Sunday, Works announced the increase in cases and added that out of all of the adults who have tested positive within the schools, five of them are not classroom based, including himself.

Transparency is something that is a core value of my own, which is why I am comfortable sharing out my status. It also allows me to offer some insight and advice from the first-hand perspective, but also as the leader of CRCS,” Works said in the letter.

Through contact tracing, he said that he knows his contact has been contained and the people who were at risk to his exposure have all been tested. His wife and two children have tested negative and have not exhibited symptoms, and he is isolated at a different residence.

“I have been fortunate that my symptoms have been mild, and I have been able to work remotely. Having first-hand experience as someone infected, I want to share some insight that is helping us move forward,” Works said. “My first symptoms were nothing more than a headache and tight neck, which wasn’t out of the ordinary after being dehydrated the day prior. Within 48 hours I tested positive with no other symptoms, and since then the only other symptoms I have exhibited have been periods of exhaustion and fogginess.”

Works hopes that by talking about his experience with the virus, he is able to highlight that it can present itself with very subtle symptoms that may appear as allergies, a runny nose, a headache and/or tight muscles.

We have been transparent as much as possible, and my goal is that we can help inform other people. Everyone should take this very seriously and no matter how many precautions that we all take, we can always reflect and do better and improve,” Works said.

He adds that the majority of the positive cases have been adults who have tended to be administrators who wear masks and follow protocols. The amount of time they spent together exceeds other adult interactions in the building.

“The virus does spread very easily and quickly, and simple day-to-day tasks can spread the virus easily despite mask wearing and (social) distancing. It can be as simple as a building principal picking up the phone in the office when the administrative assistant steps out, using a stapler off another person’s desk, and/or spending time in someone’s office space or what we call their living space; eating lunch in someone else’s space, taking off a mask when nobody is present in someone else’s office space, etc. are examples that we are going to problem solve moving forward,” he said.

He believes that the frequent disinfecting of classroom spaces and common areas where students work has been highly effective and has possibly contributed to the low positive numbers with the students, though moving forward, the same amount of attention will be paid to the adult staff members.

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