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News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, December 10, 2020
Brooksville students return to school

COVID-19 Local Updates Fall/Winter 2020
Click here to see the full COVID-19 Local Updates Fall/Winter 2020.

by Eli Forman

On Wednesday, December 9, 14 days after the last possible date of exposure to a positive COVID-19 case among the Brooksville Elementary School community, students returned to their classrooms ready to get back to in-person instruction.

At the Brooksville School Board meeting on December 7, principal Cammie Fowler described the notification and quarantine process that the school immediately implemented after the positive case was reported on November 29, on the heels of Thanksgiving break.

“The superintendent, Nurse Jenny and I worked together with the CDC guidelines and the CDC on what action we needed to take,” said Fowler.

Ultimately, 65 people were determined to have been in close contact with the positive individual, prompting an immediate pivot to remote instruction, the closure of the school building and a directed quarantine period.

Close contacts were also encouraged to acquire a test, and if so, must provide a negative test result before returning to school.

At the meeting, Fowler informed the board of the tests received; one additional positive case was identified, but due to the timing of the test early in the quarantine period, it would not affect the school’s return to proximity instruction.

Fowler also notified the board that the school building was professionally cleaned by Casco Bay Cleaning based in Portland.

In a scene that Union 93 Superintendent Mark Hurvitt likened to the 1984 comedy “Ghost Busters,” Casco Bay Cleaning utilized an electrostatic sprayer to disinfect the building.

Electrostatic sprayers work by slightly electrically charging droplets as they pass through a sprayer nozzle, causing the droplets of disinfectant to repel each other and more effectively coat surfaces.

Brooksville will also be receiving specially designed air filters for each classroom sometime in the next couple months, said Fowler.

Fowler credits the swift response of staff and the cooperative effort of the school community following safety measures.

“In some ways it’s good to have experienced this and have it behind us….I take from it if we hadn’t been taking all the precautions, we probably would have seen a lot more positive cases,” said Fowler.

In other news, at the suggestion of Fowler and Nurse Jenny Pert, the school board voted to amend the yellow plan to continue to allow for proximity instruction rather than separate students into multiple cohorts attending school different days of the week.

Both Fowler and Pert noted that based on the number of students and the size of school classrooms, social distancing can still be effectively maintained with everyone in school.

Additionally, they explained that in the event of a COVID exposure in one cohort, the teacher instructing both cohorts would need to quarantine, effectively causing all cohorts regardless of exposure to transition to remote learning.

“There isn’t necessarily a right answer, just what might be right for us,” said Pert.

In other news, the board decided push a decision on winter sports to their next meeting in January.