New School Guidance for 2022

As we enter the new calendar year, all schools across Maine, including our Valley Unified school districts, have new guidance to follow specific to how to respond to positive COVID-19 cases, which include those individuals who are identified as close contacts.  The new information can be found here.

Here are some of the biggest changes, which go into effect immediately, and do not count for any positive COVID-19 cases or close contacts identified before December 30, 2021:  

  1. Maine will now observe the US CDC's guidelines for isolation for a positive COVID-19 individual, which is now 5 days as long as the individual no longer has symptoms after 5 days.  The 5 day isolation should be followed by 5 additional days of wearing a properly fitted mask.
  2. Close contacts to a positive COVID-19 individual must also quarantine for 5 days from last COVID-19 exposure from school and school activities and then wear a mask for an additional 5 days unless at least one of the following conditions applies:
    • The close contact (staff or student) is boosted; or 
    • The close contact is a fully vaccinated 16-17 year old student who has not yet received their booster shot; or
    • The close contact (staff or student) is not eligible for a booster but is fully vaccinated; or  
    • The close contact (staff or student) completed their second mRNA dose within 6 months (or completed their J&J vaccine within two months); or 
    • The close contact (staff or student) participates in school pooled testing; or 
    • The school is enforcing a mandatory masking policy. 
  3. Exposures that occur in outdoor settings (including contact in sports) or on a school bus do not constitute a close contact and, thus, do not require quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.
  4. The pooled testing exemption now includes close contacts that occur outside of school events.
  5. The definition for school outbreak has changed, and is no longer 3 or more positives from separate households.  When a school reports 15% absenteeism, Maine CDC will follow up with the school to obtain additional information and determine if the absenteeism report meets outbreak status.
Given the above changes, we fully expect that there will be far fewer required quarantines moving forward, especially when more staff and students become fully vaccinated and boosted, participate in pooled testing, and continue with universal masking.  

Over the next several weeks, it will be very important to listen to the guidance provided to you by the school nurse in the event that a staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19, or if an individual is a close contact.  We will also review our procedures on how to handle at home COVID-19 tests and report back on that guidance shortly. 

Thank you for your continued support and for understanding that our schools are required to follow the Maine CDC guidance when responding to COVID-19 or any other infectious disease.   We wish you all a new and improved 2022!