Lincoln Academy will move to virtual learning April 12-16 after four individuals associated with the school tested positive for COVID-19.
In an email sent Thursday, April 8, Director of Health Services Eric Duffy and Head of School Jeff Burroughs said two individuals associated with the school had tested positive for COVID-19. A second email was sent the afternoon of Friday, April 9 informing the community of two additional positive tests.
With four confirmed cases, Lincoln Academy meets the definition of an outbreak, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. LA also had a positive case on March 25, for a total of five cases in the past 14 days.
Parents of any students involved, as well as any faculty and staff members who were close contacts of the individuals were notified and asked to quarantine for 10 days, according to the email. A close contact is someone who has been within 6 feet of a positive case, with or without a face mask, for at least 15 minutes during the infectious period, or someone who is in a cohort of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19.
About 170 students and 15 staff members are in quarantine, according to LA spokesperson Jenny Mayher.
“At this point, there is evidence of community transmission being brought into the school, but so far there has been no evidence of transmission within the school,” Mayher said.
Due to the large number of students and staff who are now quarantining, LA will move to virtual learning for all classes April 12-16 and all after-school programs and athletics have been canceled for the week, according to the email.
This is the first time Lincoln Academy has transitioned to virtual learning in response to COVID-19 cases in the school, Mayher said. The school held remote classes for the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas and extended Christmas break by one week as a precaution.
“We knew that people would be traveling and there was so much evidence there would be an increase in cases, so we decided to close proactively,” Mayher said. “This is our first reactive closure.”
The school’s April vacation is the following week. LA plans to return to hybrid learning after April vacation on Monday, April 26, Mayher said.
“We know that this is very difficult news for all of us,” Duffy and Burroughs said in the email. “With vaccinations underway and the ability to be outside for various activities including spring sports, we all hoped we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, case numbers are still high in Maine, with the highest number of new infections among young people.”
In their email, Duffy and Burroughs reminded everyone to follow COVID-19 safety precautions.
“Our ability to return to in-person school, complete the spring sports season, and celebrate the class of 2021 with in-person graduation events relies on everyone taking appropriate COVID precautions, including wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, avoiding large group gatherings, and washing hands,” they said in the email. “We all want to finish this year together, but we will need your support to do so.”