COVID-19 RESPONSE

Reporting COVID Positive Results and Response to a Positive Case:

Positive cases will be evaluated on a case by case basis following guidelines from the DOE Standard Operating Procedure and with consultation with the CDC as needed.

Reporting COVID Positive Results

Any member of the Portland Public Schools community (staff, students and families) should report positive cases immediately to a school or district administrator or a school nurse immediately upon confirmation of a positive test. Reporting promptly during nights or weekends is critical, as timely communication will be key to reducing spread. Any report made to an administrator will be immediately reported to Xavier Botana or Aaron Townsend who will coordinate with nurse supervisor Tina Vellieux. Staff and families can call 207-874-8110 after school hours or email covid19@portlandschools.org.

The information that will be needed for reports is:

  • First and last name of positive case

  • Date of birth

  • Town of residency

  • Phone number (or phone number of parent/guardian if a minor)

ReSPONSE TO A COVID POSITIVE CASE

The CDC will initiate an investigation when it learns of a confirmed case of COVID 19 within a school. If the school learns before the CDC, the school nurse and/or administrator will alert the superintendent and the Maine DOE school nurse consultant, who is the primary contact for schools to Maine CDC.

Specials, recess, cafeteria exposure will be reviewed on a case by case basis by the school nurse and administrators.

Bus exposures will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by school staff. If a positive case is on the bus fewer than 15 minutes, no one else on the bus is considered to be a close contact.


After-school and extra-curricular activities will be assessed by school staff. Recommendations will be based on the nature of the activity, set up and the mitigation strategies in place.

School staff (teachers, nurses, bus drivers, etc.) are considered essential workers. For school staff who are close contacts of confirmed cases in a school, the school staff may return to work while in quarantine so long as (1) there are no substitute school staff members available, (2) the school staff members take appropriate infection control precautions, including the use of PPE, and (3) the staff remain in quarantine outside of work.

Infectious Period: Please note that the infectious period of COVID-19 is 48 hours before the onset of symptoms. Recommendations for quarantines and classroom closures will be decided based on possible exposures during the infectious period. In the hybrid model, it is possible a student who tests positive for COVID 19 will not have attended school for the 48 hours previous to the onset of illness and therefore not exposed anyone at school.

Cleaning: Cleaning procedures will follow CDC protocol.

Testing: PPS and Maine CDC are partnering with local agencies to provide testing for students and staff after a positive case. Free COVID-19 tests can be found here. Additionally, testing can be procured through a primary care provider. Contact your school nurse if you need help finding a testing appointment.

Vaccines: Students age 12 and above are eligible for COVID -19 vaccination. Talk with your school nurse if you need help finding a COVID-19 vaccine for your student.

  • Students, teachers, or staff who test positive for COVID-19 will be isolated until they meet the U.S. CDC criteria for release for isolation. Maine CDC case investigators release COVID-19 cases from isolation. All close contacts of positive cases must remain in quarantine for at least 10 days following their last exposure to the confirmed case unless they meet one of the exception criteria. In a school setting, close contacts may range from a few individuals to an entire classroom to an entire school depending on the number and location of confirmed cases. It is important to note that a close contact who is required to quarantine and who receives a negative test result must remain in quarantine for the balance of the 10-day period. The current quarantine exceptions outlined in the state procedure include asymptomatic individuals who are fully vaccinated, have tested positive for COVID-19 within th past 90 days, participate in the district pooled testing program, or meet the universal masking requirements.

  • Any student exhibiting symptoms will be assessed by the school nurse and will wait in an isolation area for dismissal.

  • Nurses will communicate concerns about COVID symptoms to parents/guardians and will discuss the need for the student to follow up with the primary care provider. If a student does not have a primary care provider, the nurse will discuss options with parents, including with parents how to become enrolled at Greater Portland Health. Parents are asked to stay in close contact with the nurse and will be asked to sign a release of information for the nurse to communicate with the provider's office.

  • If tested, students and staff must stay home and self quarantine until test results are back.

  • If notified of a positive case (test positive or presumed positive by provider), nurses and administrators will work with the CDC to begin contact tracing/movement in school building/grounds/transportation.

  • Admin will notify the Central Office.

  • Close contacts (within 6 ft for at least 15 minutes) will be notified by the school nurse or school staff or by CDC and instructed to stay home and quarantine unless they meet one of the exception criteria.

  • Nurses will track quarantines and 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.

OUTBREAK STATUS AND CLOSURE CRITERIA


The CDC evaluates a school for an outbreak when there are 3 or more positive cases from different households that meet CDC criteria for investigation. CDC criteria for investigation include the type of COVID test (ie. antigen or PCR), the number of days since the individual was present in school, and any known positive contacts in or out of school. Potential outbreaks are reviewed by the CDC and each case is evaluated on an individual basis. Only the CDC can classify a facility as an outbreak.


If the CDC determines there is an outbreak, they work with PPS staff, including the school physician, school nurse and central administration, to review situations and to determine the risk of in-school transmission. An outbreak does not necessarily warrant a school closure, and the CDC may recommend other measures, such as cleaning or quarantining of close contacts, to mitigate any ongoing risk.


At any time, PPS may decide to close a school, grade level, cohort, or pod for a period of time. The most appropriate closure will be determined through evaluation of where the cases are in a building, the timeline of cases, and other relevant factors, such as:


  • Staffing- A school may need to close for a period of time if there is not enough staff to safely hold school.

  • Number of close contacts- The number of school close contacts for a positive case will be considered. Depending on the overall number of positive cases in a school, cases that do not have school close contacts may not be considered as a reason for school closure.

  • Links in cases- If there are links that suggest transmission of the virus in school, a school, cohort, pod, or grade level may be closed until the end of the quarantine period for the most recent case with school exposure.


An outbreak is considered “open” until 14 days have passed since the last positive case with in school close contacts. This means any new case within those 14 days may restart the timeline and could lead to a school being identified in outbreak status for a prolonged period. The CDC continues close monitoring of a school throughout an outbreak and will continue to make recommendations as needed.


PPS follows the CDC cleaning guidelines when positive cases are identified in school. If needed, PPS will work with community partners in the event large scale testing is recommended for students and staff.

Free COVID-19 Testing for Students & Staff

Thanks to our collaboration with Greater Portland Health, the district is able to offer COVID-19 testing free of cost for any students and staff who report COVID symptoms. Testing will be arranged through your school nurse if you call in and report symptoms that meet criteria for testing.

The clinic is located in the lower level of the administration building and is open from 9:30 to 11:00 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. In order to preserve staff (and student) confidentiality, all tests will be scheduled so no walk in testing will be available. Test results will normally be available within 24 hours. Staff should not return to work, even if COVID -19 test results are negative, until they are feeling better, respiratory symptoms have improved and they have been free of fever for 24 hours (without taking fever reducing medicine). Anyone who is ill should contact their healthcare provider.

We are happy to provide this service. Please note that staff can choose to go to another testing location arranged through their primary care provider or another testing site. If you select to do that, please be aware that if you let them know that you are a school employee which is considered an essential service, your test results should be prioritized. Local testing sites can be found here https://get-tested-covid19.org. Our school testing site is not available evenings or weekends.

Also, if an employee tests positive or is presumed positive by their physician, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services provides support for isolation and quarantine if living arrangements are not conducive to mitigating the risk of spreading the virus. Because these services do not kick in until a presumed or positive result, we will also consider supporting short term housing alternatives through our Families in Crisis Fund. To access that benefit, contact Maureen Clancy at the Multilingual and Multicultural Center, clancm@portlandschools.org.


At-home Covid-19 tests are available for purchase. While these tests are useful to self- monitor, please be aware these tests are not accepted at school if testing is required for travel, exposure, or symptoms. If you or your student needs a COVID test, check out: https://get-tested-covid19.org or ask your school nurse about our PPS testing clinic for students and staff.

BinaxNOW rapid testing will be available in all schools.

POOLED TESTING- Pooled testing for K through 6th grade will be administered through the state funded program. See the pooled testing page for more information.