Frequently Asked Questions
For questions regarding Pooled Testing, please check the Health and Safety page.
What type of medical expertise has been consulted in developing this reopening plan?
PPS’ reopening plan has been carefully developed in close collaboration between Maine’s Department of Education (MDOE) and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC). Additionally, specific details around health and safety protocols have been identified by PPS’ Head Nurse, and the district’s Medical Officer, Dr. Gita Rao, and other experts within Maine’s medical community.
What can I do to help ensure the health and safety of my child?
You will be expected to check your student every morning for symptoms of COVID -19 or other illness. Keep your child home if your child is sick. Call the school nurse if you are unsure if your student should come to school.
Keep your child home if your child has had close contact with someone who is positive for COVID 19.
Send your child to school with a mask. Your child must wear a mask on the school bus.
Be available to pick up your child at school if your child becomes sick during the school day. If it will be difficult for you to pick up your child during the school day, have an “emergency plan” ready for another family member, friend or neighbor to pick up your child from school. Please contact your school to update your child’s profile with this contact information.
Take time to review these simple recommended safety measures with your student.
What specific type of masks are required?
Medical- and non-medical-grade disposable face masks and cloth masks that have at least 2 layers of cloth. If you can stretch the material of a cloth mask and see through it, it is not thick enough.
No “gaiters” or bandanas or other “non-mask” coverings will be allowed.
No masks with valves will be allowed.
A doctor’s note is required to wear a face shield instead of a mask.
Masks should cover the nose and mouth snugly and be secure under the chin. It should fit firmly over the bridge of the nose and against the sides of the face. Make sure your child can breathe easily.
To learn how to select, wear and care for a mask, click here.
What are the signs of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.
What are some of the protocols and precautions that will be taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission?
The CDC has highlighted specific mitigation strategies to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission. PPS will adhere to the following enhanced protocols and precautions:
Face coverings include medical- and non-medical-grade disposable face masks and cloth face masks that have at least two layers of cloth.
Students are encouraged to bring their own masks, but PPS will provide face coverings for all students, as needed.
At this time, all staff, students, and visitors must wear a mask in all PPS facilities and on school buses.
Please ensure your child's mask is labeled and be sure to discuss the importance of not sharing masks with others.
Sanitation & Prevention
Students and visitors are asked to sanitize hands when entering the building, entering and/or exiting a classroom space.
Special attention is being placed to disinfect high-touch points including door knobs, countertops, handrails, light switches, restroom fixtures, desks, phones, etc.
Restrooms, communal spaces, front desk and lobby areas will be cleaned with increased frequency.
Outdoor spaces will be utilized as frequently as possible within the instructional day.
What do isolation and quarantine mean?
Isolation means keeping sick people away from healthy ones. It usually means a sick person stays in their bedroom, away from everyone, including family members.
Health isolation spaces have been created in each building should a student or staff member begin to experience or display potential COVID-19 symptoms during the course of the school or work day. Be available to pick up your child at school if your child becomes sick during the school day. If it will be difficult for you to pick up your child during the school day, have an “emergency plan” ready for another family member, friend or neighbor to pick up your child from school. Please contact your school to update your child’s profile with this emergency contact information.
Quarantine means separating people who were exposed to a sick person away from others. Someone who has been exposed can spread the virus before they have symptoms.
Outdoor spaces will be utilized as frequently as possible within the instructional day.
What happens if there is a positive or presumed case of COVID-19 in our school?
We will contact public health officials to report the situation. We will work with those officials to determine the extent of possible contacts and communicate with them as appropriate.
We will communicate promptly to staff, students, and families in the event that local health conditions warrant any form of school closure or a change in instructional delivery.
If notified of a positive case (test positive or presumed positive by provider), the school nurse and administrator will begin contact tracing/movement in the school building, grounds and transportation. The school nurse will work closely with the CDC.
The scope of the closure and quarantine will depend on recommendations from the CDC.
Nurses will track positive students (who will need to be home in isolation). Only the CDC releases people from isolation.
The school community will be notified of a positive case while maintaining privacy of the affected person, through letter (email).
What happens if a student gets sick during the school day?
Students experiencing symptoms will be guided to dedicated isolation areas. Emergency contacts will be notified and will be expected to pick up their student as soon as possible. Students will not be allowed to return to school until they have been cleared by a physician and/or school nurse.
How long does my child need to stay home if they tested positive for COVID-19 or the doctor said they likely have COVID-19?
If a student has COVID 19 or has symptoms, they need to stay home and away from others until ALL 3 of the following have happened:
They have NOT had a fever without taking fever reducing medicine (like Tylenol or Advil) for 24 hours
Their coughing, sneezing, and/or breathing difficulty has improved
At least 5 days have passed from when symptoms started
What if my child tested positive, but doesn't show symptoms?
Per CDC guidance, anyone who has quarantined for five days and is asymptomatic or whose symptoms are “resolving” will be allowed to return to school. They should follow their five days of quarantine with five days of wearing a mask when around others (as already is required in PPS facilities). We define “resolving” as 24 hours without a fever and improvement in other symptoms, such as cough and nasal congestion.
What if my child is sick but isn't tested for COVID-19?
If your child is sick with COVID-19 symptoms, please call your healthcare provider. If your healthcare provider does not believe your child has COVID-19, your child should stay home from school until they are feeling better and at least 24 hours have passed without a fever without taking fever-reducing medicine.
The Portland Public Schools, working with Greater Portland Health, can provide access to COVID-19 testing for families who may not otherwise have access. Our school nurses will provide information about this if appropriate.
What if my child is sick but tests negative?
Your child should stay home from school until they are feeling better and at least 24 hours have passed without a fever without taking fever-reducing medicine and/or 24 hours have passed without vomiting or diarrhea.
What if my child came in close contact with someone who is positive or presumed positive for COVID-19?
You will be notified by a CDC contact tracer or school official if your child is considered a close contact of someone who is positive for COVID 19.
Close contacts should quarantine for 10 days and monitor themselves for another 4 days from the last day they had contact with a positive case and monitor for symptoms.
Family members of someone deemed a close contact do not have to quarantine as long as that contact does not have symptoms.
Symptoms can occur 2-14 days from exposure.
If symptoms develop, contact your healthcare provider and follow their instructions.
What about hallways and common spaces?
Drinking fountains are limited to bottle filling use only. We encourage your child to bring a labeled water bottle to fill throughout the day. Please talk to your child about the importance of not sharing or using another student’s water bottle. One time cups will be available for students who do not bring their own water bottle.
Restrooms will be monitored and cleaned more frequently throughout the day. Outside cleaning services will be contracted, as needed.
Health isolation rooms have been created in the building should a student or staff member begin to experience or display COVID-19 symptoms during the course of the school or work day.