BAR HARBOR—Seventh and eighth grade students were forced to shift to remote learning after two eighth grade students tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
“The symptoms were so mild the doctor even said there’s no way these [tests] are going to come back positive and they did,” said Conners Emerson School Principal Barbara Neilly. “My concern is that we may have asymptomatic kids walking around with very mild symptoms that they aren’t reporting.”
“The seventh grade did not need to be put on remote, but because they share the same wing on the same floor [as the eighth grade]…I wanted them out,” said Neilly.
The two junior high grades will continue learning remotely with the seventh graders expected to return on Dec. 9 and eighth graders to return on Dec. 15.
According to the principal, the two cases are related, as the two individuals who tested positive were said to have attended the same event together at an off-island entertainment venue on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Neilly mentioned that the custodians have been cleaning and working extremely hard to make sure all protocols have been followed before people return. “Today we [cleaned] everything, spraying tonight before leaving, and will continue to,” said Neilly. In addition, as normal protocol dictates during the weekend, the custodian comes in and wipes all surfaces.
During the principal’s report, the committee was also informed that 15 staff members were set to quarantine the following day to be safe, as she wants to make sure there are no additional unrelated cases.
“If another positive comes up that’s not related to this case, we will have to shut down and go remote for 10 days…and return after Christmas break,” said Neilly.
She then started to talk about the criteria for going remote. If someone from each building (both Conners and Emerson) were to test positive, Neilly said, they would have to shut the school down.
“There’s no way I would allow the building to open if I didn’t think it was safe,” she continued. In addition to this, Neilly referenced a statement from health officials indicating that it would take three positive cases, related or unrelated, to close the school.
Her report about the virus ended with an announcement about testing. All students and staff who were exposed to these cases were emailed. Before returning to school, she said, these individuals must have a negative COVID PCR test.