News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, May 13, 2021
High school goes remote after four test positive for COVID-19
Classrooms stay open for elementary school

by Leslie Landrigan

All Deer Isle-Stonington High School students will learn remotely until at least Friday, May 14, because four tested positive for COVID-19, according to Superintendent Chris Elkington.

Another 52 people, including seven staff members, were identified as close contacts through contact tracing, Elkington said. He asked all affected students to quarantine, but all staff were fully vaccinated and could return to school, Elkington said in an email to parents.

Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-19 symptoms don’t need to quarantine even if they’ve had a close contact with a positive case, under guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What started out as one case of COVID-19 on Tuesday, May 4, became four cases by May 9 that required another 45 students identified as close contacts to quarantine.

Elkington, though, said he’d received many reports that several students did not quarantine.

“There is nothing that the school system can do about this, but I do ask all of our parents to make sure that they are working with us and having their children quarantine,” Elkington said in an email to parents.

Thursday, May 6, 9:13 a.m.

School officials first learned about a positive COVID-19 case at 7 a.m. on Thursday, May 6, according to Elkington. He sent an email to parents and guardians at 9:13 that morning to tell them. He also told parents that six students were found through contact tracing to be close contacts with the positive case, along with a staff member.

The elementary school remained open, and Elkington promised another update that morning.

Thursday, May 6, 11:10 a.m.

Two hours later Elkington sent another email to parents: Not six, but 18 students had come in close contact with the positive case. The school managed to contact 16 of them before they came to school, Elkington said. It also turned out that three, not one, of the staff members came in close contact with the students. But, again, all staff members were fully vaccinated and didn’t have to quarantine.

Elkington closed the high school at 11:10 on Thursday morning. It would stay closed on Friday morning to make sure the deep cleaning had time to kill germs, he said.

Friday, May 7, 7:57 p.m.

On Friday evening Elkington sent an email saying a second person tested positive for COVID-19. Even if the 18 students tested negative, they still had to quarantine. He planned to reopen the high school on Monday morning.

Sunday, May 9, 12:16 p.m.

Two more people reported positive tests, and the number of close contacts rose to 45. Elkington told parents in an email there would be no in-class learning for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, May 11, 12:46 p.m.

By Tuesday, the school had found no more positive cases, though Elkington said in an email he’d heard about some other cases in the community. None, however, were related to the school, he said.