A person associated with Messalonskee High School in Oakland has tested positive for COVID-19, Regional School Unit 18 Superintendent Carl Gartley wrote in an email to the community Friday afternoon.

“We just hope everyone is OK,” Gartley said in a phone interview Friday.

The Maine Center for Disease Control did not recommend any school closures. Messalonskee High School was not open Friday anyway for a previously-scheduled staff in-service day to train for remote learning.

Upon learning about the person’s positive test, the school nurse contacted the CDC, Gartley said, declining to say whether the person is a student or staff member.

RSU 18 Superintendent Carl Gartley, seen here in 2019, announced this week a person associated with Messalonskee High School has tested positive for COVID-19. Morning Sentinel file

“Unfortunately, I have to share with you that there is another family in our community who has informed us that members of their family, including a person at our high school, has tested positive for COVID 19,” Gartley wrote. “Fortunately, all of the people associated with this occurrence made good decisions and followed the district and state guidelines.”

This marks at least the fourth COVID-19 case associated with RSU 18, which serves approximately 2,500 students from the towns of Belgrade, China, Oakland, Sidney and Rome across eight schools. Two students at James H. Bean Elementary School tested positive earlier in the week, as did a nonteacher staff member at an unidentified school. The CDC did not recommend any action for any of the incidents.

RSU 18 gave families the option to bring students back for in-person learning five days per week or opt for fully remote learning.

Gartley wrote that the person who was first exposed to the virus self-isolated, but the person associated with Messalonskee High School did eventually test positive. In the letter, Gartley praised his staff for their vigilance with coronavirus-related safety measures.

“To the entire staff, I want to once again thank you for being so vigilant,” Gartley said. “Wearing masks, maintaining the social distancing, hand washing, checking symptoms before coming to school … you are all doing a great job.”

Friday was also the second of two straight weeks of staff in-service days on Fridays to cover trainings and practice with remote learning tools, developing of lessons that work for both in-person and remote learning.

“Our staff is working incredibly hard as they always do, but everything we do right now takes more energy and thought than normal,” Gartley said. “These days for staff to work have been incredibly well-received and useful. There has not been one minute of wasted time and I’m just very, very proud of my staff.”

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