BAR HARBOR — Of the 352 teachers and other staff members in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System who volunteered to be tested for the coronavirus Dec. 8 and 9, none tested positive; four of the test results were inconclusive.
The testing last week was the first round in the school system’s program of testing school personnel who have no symptoms of COVID-19, the disease that is caused by the virus.
Superintendent Marc Gousse said the initial tests were conducted to establish a baseline.
“From there, we will do weekly sentinel testing with a group of about 100 individuals, which will allow us to see if there is any evidence of community spread [of the coronavirus] in our schools,” he said.
The weekly testing is to continue through the school year. It is being paid for with grants and donations.
The initial round of testing was done in the gym at MDI High School.
“It was a super-well-organized event,” said Principal Matt Haney.
Gousse called it “textbook” and “seamless.”
Outside of the asymptomatic testing program, three people have tested positive for COVID-19 so far: two eighth-grade students at Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor and one person at the high school whose identity has not been disclosed.
Haney said that, since that positive test was announced two weeks ago, a significant number of high school students who had been attending classes in person have opted to learn remotely.
“It had been about 20 percent of our students; now it’s about one-third,” he said Monday.
“That makes it pretty empty around here sometimes, because there are some classes that have only two or three students in them sometimes. Those students are getting a lot of personal attention, but it’s not what we’re used to.”
High school board member Keri Hayes said some kids don’t like being one of only a handful of students in a classroom.
“That’s one of the reasons that some of the kids are going back to the virtual,” she said.
“I agree,” Haney said. “I think some of them think, ‘Well, this is no good. I’m one of only three people in my class. I would just as soon stay home.’
“Once we get to the point where we can fill those rooms back up, we can make that a better experience.”