News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 16, 2021
Two COVID-19 cases close DISHS for a week
Half the school exposed

by Leslie Landrigan

Deer Isle-Stonington High School closed for a week starting September 13 after two people tested positive for COVID-19, according to Interim Superintendent Bob England.

Those two COVID-positive people had come in contact with half the students and half the teaching staff, England said in a phone interview.

“It was maybe a little bit overcautious,” he said. But with 66 students and eight teachers exposed, he decided to go remote for a week. “I think we may have squelched any spread,” he said.

The elementary school remained open, though four students had to quarantine because of exposure to the COVID-19 patients. School staff did the contact tracing to find out who may have been exposed to the disease.

COVID in schools

Two weeks into the school year, on September 9, the Maine Department of Education reported investigations into 14 outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools. Eleven closed at least partially for remote learning. DISHS did not make the Department of Education’s list because it takes three cases to constitute an outbreak.

Elementary school students may be especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because no vaccine has been approved yet for children under 12. Even vaccinated students can catch the highly contagious Delta variant, though they are likely to experience less severe symptoms if they do get it, according to health officials.

England said one advantage of closing the high school is that teachers and students can meet as a class, if only online, rather than having a few quarantined students checking in remotely to an in-person class. He said he visited the high school on Tuesday, September 14, and the teachers were sitting in the classrooms, interacting with kids on the screen.