SANFORD, Maine — 12 people associated with Sanford High School / Sanford Regional Technical Center have now tested positive for COVID-19, making it the first outbreak in a Maine public school system.
"You always want to be first in some things, but this is definitely one of those things we don't want to be first in," said Superintendent Matt Nelson.
Nelson said eight out of the 12 people were in the building. He said the building is closed and being disinfected, while students switch to full remote learning.
"We have to be able to utilize this as a set back to hopefully help us do what we need to do so we can get back to in-person learning," said Nelson.
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said gatherings linked to the outbreak happened outside of the school setting.
"We've identified a potential route of transmission that may have occurred during a pickup football game that happened on September 16. As well as a sun rise gathering of seniors that occurred around that same time," said Dr. Shah.
Nelson first informed the community of a positive case at the schools on Sept. 18. Two days later, he said there were two others. The development caused the school to move from a “yellow” hybrid model of learning to a “red” full distance learning beginning Monday, September 21.
In that letter, Nelson wrote, "There is a possibility that other staff or students came in contact with [these individuals] and therefore may be exposed to the virus. We are informing you out of an abundance of caution. Maine CDC or a school representative will contact you directly if you are identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive."
The full letter can be found here.
On Thursday, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said the Maine CDC is working with the school district to arrange for a testing site to be set up for staff members, faculty members, and students to ensure that everyone who is part of the school community can obtain COVID-19 testing. He said he encourages everyone in the school's community to take advantage of the testing opportunity.
"What we're seeing in York County right now is forceful community-level transmission. That is to say, the rate of virus has achieved a certain level that it's everywhere and in wide circulation across the county," Dr. Shah said.