March 4, 2022
Dear Bangor School Department Community,
I want to start my letter to you thanking you for your resilience during the past two years. It has been a long journey through the pandemic with many changes affecting all aspects of our lives. Through it all we have worked together to support our students as best we could given the many challenges and changing circumstances. I am proud of the hard work and determination of every individual who assisted us with maintaining in person learning as well as extra curricular activities and a successful athletic season.
Statewide discussions of protocol changes have prompted many individuals to contact my office to share their views. I have heard from a number of student leaders who have expressed concern and an interest in continuing to wear masks. Students expressed their need to stay in school and participate in activities and athletics. Seniors in particular are looking forward to an in person graduation ceremony with their loved ones. I respect these students for sharing their concerns and the student voice.
We will continue to follow the guidance of the Maine CDC to ensure the safety of all of our constituents. A new standard operating procedure is forthcoming from the state and we will update our reopening plan at that time. We are no longer required to contact trace when a positive case is discovered. What this means for families, is that we will not have to quarantine individuals from school if they are a close contact to a positive case, including people choosing not to wear a mask. Anyone who tests positive will continue to be quarantined for a five-day period and wear a mask for five-days after returning to school. We will continue pooled testing in our schools and encourage families who are interested in joining the program to sign up.
Individuals should continue to stay home when they have viral symptoms, including fever or chills, fatigue, sore throat, cough, muscle or body aches, congestion or runny nose, shortness of breath, new loss of taste/smell, nausea, vomiting or difficulty breathing, and/or diarrhea. Health and safety will continue to be our main objective as we continue to address the effects on our students’ social/emotional wellness and their learning.
With current high levels of vaccination and high levels of population immunity from both vaccination and infections, the risk of medically significant disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 is greatly reduced for most people. At the same time, we know that some people in our community, such as our oldest citizens, people who are immunocompromised are at higher risk for serious illness and face challenging decisions navigating a world with COVID-19. We will continue to support students and staff who have medical needs as we have always done in our school department. If you have a student who has a health condition that may need a health plan, please contact your school nurse or principal. I encourage all health concerned people to continue to wear a mask, as that is their personal choice.
With the recent announcement from Governor Mills combined with the decline in positive cases in our community and vaccines available to all students and staff who want to access them, the Bangor School Department will move to a mask optional policy beginning March 9, 2022.
Bangor School Department