This framework is guided by the following principles:
- Protect the health and safety of students and staff
- Follow U.S. CDC Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning
- Provide clear expectations for students and staff
Guidelines for Safe In-Person Instruction
No single action or set of actions will completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but taken together, the following health and safety recommendations can greatly reduce that risk. This information represents district guidance as of August 2022 and will be updated as new information becomes available.
Staying up to date on routine vaccinations is essential to prevent illness from many different infections. Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to help safely develop immunity to disease. For COVID-19, staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations is the leading public health strategy to prevent severe disease. Not only does it provide individual-level protection, but high vaccination coverage reduces the burden of COVID-19 on people, schools, healthcare systems, communities, and individuals who are not vaccinated or may not develop a strong immune response from the vaccines.
People with symptoms of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and gastrointestinal infections should stay home and get tested for COVID-19. People who are at risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 who test positive should consult with a healthcare provider right away for possible treatment, even if their symptoms are mild. Staying home when sick can lower the risk of spreading infectious diseases, including the virus that causes COVID-19, to other people. For more information on staying home when sick with COVID-19, including recommendations for mask use for people experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, see Quarantine and Isolation.
Washing hands can prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Schools should teach and reinforce proper hand-washing to lower the risk of spreading viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19. Schools should monitor and reinforce these behaviors, especially during key times in the day (for example, before and after eating and after recess) and should also provide adequate hand-washing supplies, including soap and water. If washing hands is not possible, schools should provide hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizers should be stored up, away, and out of sight of younger children and should be used only with adult supervision for children ages 5 years and younger.Schools should teach and reinforce covering coughs and sneezes to help keep individuals from getting and spreading infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
Schools should clean surfaces at least once a day to reduce the risk of germs spreading by touching surfaces. If a facility has had a sick person or someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 24 hours, the space should be cleaned and disinfected. For more information, see Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility.
CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels help communities and individuals make decisions on what COVID-19 prevention strategies to use based on whether their community is classified as low, medium, or high. When the COVID-19 Community Level indicates an increase, particularly if the level is medium or high, schools should consider adding layered prevention strategies, described below, to maintain safe, in-person learning and keep schools safely open.
If a school is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, they should consider adding prevention strategies regardless of the COVID-19 Community Level.
With decreasing or low COVID-19 Community Levels, schools can consider removing prevention strategies one at a time, followed by close monitoring of the COVID-19 Community Level in the weeks that follow.
Masks will remain optional in RSU 40 schools until or unless the State of Maine and/or the Maine Department of Education declares a health emergency. However, masks are required indoors for days 6 through 10 for individuals testing positive for COVID-19 upon returning from isolation.
Anyone who chooses to wear a mask should be supported in their decision to do so at any COVID-19 Community Level, including low. At a medium COVID-19 Community Level, people who are immunocompromised or at risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 should talk to their healthcare provider about the need to wear a mask and take other precautions (for example, avoiding high-risk activities). Since wearing masks or respirators can prevent spread of COVID-19, people who have a household or social contact with someone at risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 (for example, a student with a sibling who is at risk) may also choose to wear a mask when the COVID-19 Community Level is medium. Schools should consider flexible, non-punitive policies and practices to support individuals who choose to wear masks regardless of the COVID-19 Community Level.
At a high COVID-19 Community Level, universal indoor masking in schools is recommended, as it is in the community at-large. When the COVID-19 Community Level is high, people at risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 should also wear masks or respirators that provide greater protection, such as N95s or KN95s.
Schools with students at risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 must make reasonable modifications when necessary to ensure that all students, including those with disabilities, are able to access in-person learning. Schools might need to require masking, based on federal, state, or local laws and policies, to ensure that students with immunocompromising conditions or other conditions that increase their risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 can access in-person learning. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Disability Rights webpage. Students with immunocompromising conditions or other conditions or disabilities that increase risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 should not be placed into separate classrooms or otherwise segregated from other students.For more information about masks please visit Types of Masks and Respirators.
someone with COVID-19. If people who have COVID-19 are identified early and isolate at home, schools can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Choice of viral tests can include laboratory-based testing, point-of-care rapid testing, or self-testing. Schools should consider the varying minimum age for using Emergency Use Authorized (EUA) COVID-19 tests.
For more information on COVID-19 tests, visit:
- In Vitro Diagnostics EUAs – Molecular Diagnostic Tests for SARS-CoV-2
- In Vitro Diagnostics EUAs – Antigen Diagnostic Tests for SARS-CoV-2
- At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests
In addition to diagnostic testing offered by schools where feasible, people should be encouraged to test at home or in the community (for example, at a testing site or healthcare provider office) if they have symptoms or have had close contact with someone with COVID-19. Anyone who tests positive or has symptoms should follow CDC recommendations for isolation to stay home from their school or ECE program. People who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 should follow CDC recommendations to quarantine, get tested, and wear a well-fitting mask. Recommendations for close contacts depend on vaccination status or history of prior infection. Those who come to school with symptoms or develop symptoms while at school should be asked to wear a well-fitting mask while in the building and be sent home and encouraged to get tested if testing is unavailable at school. Schools can consider offering home-test kits if someone comes to school with symptoms of COVID-19 or develops symptoms at school, that can be used to test at home or at school in accordance with Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) requirements.
Cohorting is the practice of keeping people together in a small group and having each group stay together throughout the day, while minimizing contact between cohorts. In areas with a high COVID-19 Community Levels, this can be used to limit the number of people who come in contact with each other. It is important to ensure any use of cohorting for learning is designed to support inclusion of English language learners, students with disabilities consistent with their Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plans, and other underserved students, and not result in segregation. In areas with high COVID-19 Community Levels, schools can also discourage crowding indoors to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Schools can take additional steps to increase outdoor air intake and improve air filtration. For example, safely opening windows and doors, including on school buses and other vehicles, and using portable air cleaners with HEPA filters are strategies to improve ventilation. Schools may also consider holding some activities outside if feasible when the COVID-19 Community Level is high.
Schools that are not conducting contact tracing should use other methods to inform people who might have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the school environment of their potential exposure and the actions they should take to remain safe and reduce transmission. Timely notification to all students, children, and staff in a classroom, cohort, or other school-based group with a potential exposure could include a phone call, email, or letter.
Quarantine is a strategy used to prevent transmission of COVID-19 by keeping people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 apart from others. Recommendations for close contacts to quarantine, wear a well-fitting mask, and get tested will vary depending on vaccination status and history of prior COVID-19 infection. Regardless of the current COVID-19 Community Level, people who have come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 should follow the recommendations outlined on the COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation webpage.
Due to increased and forceful exhalation that occurs during physical activity, some sports can put players, coaches, trainers, and others at increased risk for getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Close contact sports and indoor sports are particularly risky. Similar risks may exist for other extracurricular activities, such as band, choir, theater, and other school clubs that meet indoors and entail increased exhalation. At all COVID-19 Community Levels, schools can consider implementing screening testing for high-risk activities such as indoor sports and extracurricular activities. Schools may consider temporarily stopping these activities to control a school or program associated outbreak, or during periods of high COVID-19 Community Levels.
How Can We Help?
Please call the RSU 40 District Office at 207-785-2277.