SKOWHEGAN — There is an additional probable positive case of COVID-19 within Maine School Administrative District 54, and an outbreak at a Pittsfield business was announced by the CDC at its Friday afternoon briefing.

In a memo sent out on Friday, Superintendent Jon Moody said that a student at Bloomfield Elementary has been identified as a probable positive case pending the result of a COVID-19 test. Somerset County schools are still yellow and operating in a hybrid model, per the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

“As has been the case in each previous instance, this probable positive case is a result of contact that occurred outside of school,” Moody said in the letter. “Our staff has worked to identify those staff and students who were considered close contacts based on CDC guidance, and those individuals are being asked to quarantine.”

At this time, there is no recommendation that schools close or take additional actions beyond quarantining measures. Somerset County schools were deemed yellow last week, and the district is continuing in that hybrid model. The only way it could change is if the state deemed the county green. The state is also monitoring nearby Kennebec County.

“We are in hopes that because the individual in question hasn’t been in school for some time, that quarantine times may be reduced,” Moody said. “…We recognize that with each new investigation there is an impact to our students, our staff, and our community. We want to assure you that in each situation we are closely following the guidance of Maine CDC and our medical experts to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”

To date, the district has had three positive cases of COVID-19 and one probable positive case. The positives have been a student at Skowhegan Area High School, a teacher at Mill Stream Elementary School and a staff person within the district. The probable positive case was a student at Canaan Elementary School.

Schools have been kept open, Moody said, because each of the COVID-19 cases that the district has seen has reportedly been a result of contact with individuals outside of the school.

“We were told by Maine (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) that everything that we’re doing is clearly working,” Moody said on Thursday. “It is frustrating to quarantine students and go through this process. And it definitely has an impact on families, but (we are) keeping school open because there has been no transmission in our school. What was said to me is that school is one of the safest places if the schools follow the rules, and I think our staff and others have done an awesome job with that.”

MSAD 54 serves the communities of Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Smithfield and Skowhegan.

Elsewhere in Somerset County, an outbreak is being investigated at Walpole Woodworkers Inc. in Pittsfield.

In Friday afternoon’s media briefing, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah announced the outbreak, which opened at nine cases today. In an email to the Morning Sentinel, Maine CDC spokesperson Robert Long said the outbreak’s nine cases are as of the end of the day on Thursday.

On Thursday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills issued an executive order for a mandatory mask requirement in all places outside one’s home and yard, regardless of distance.

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