January 19, 2022
Dear Members of the John Bapst Community,
It has been two years since the school first confronted COVID. During this time John Bapst has been following and responding to developments in the pandemic. Our first concern has always been the health and safety of our students and staff. Our policy decisions begin with this focus. We have tried to balance the academic and social needs of our students with the steps necessary to keep the school community as safe as possible.
The most recent development is the emergence of Omicron as the most dominant strain. The Omicron variant is highly contagious but thankfully appears to result in generally milder cases. Based on what scientific data suggest about this variant the U.S. CDC has revised its guidance. The Maine CDC and the Maine Department of Education then revised the standard operating procedure for how schools should respond to positive cases in schools. John Bapst has adopted this new guidance as outlined below and in the school’s SOP for Positive Cases (attached here SOP 1_19_22.pdf ).
Because we are enforcing universal masking and also participating in pooled testing, our response to a positive case has changed. A notable change is that we will no longer conduct contact tracing. Anyone in close contact with a positive case may still attend school and school-related activities if they are asymptomatic, regardless of vaccination status. Anyone with symptoms should stay home and test for COVID. Additionally, a text alert will no longer be sent as cases arise but the school will keep the community informed of COVID activity via the weekly email from the academic dean.
The school will continue to follow the Maine CDC guidelines and work with its partners at Northern Light and UMaine to make changes as needed. The most recent set of changes reduces time away from school and friends, and reminds us all to be vigilant for symptoms. The hope of the new SOP is to bring some consistency to how we deal with positive cases and give parents, students, and staff clarity around what to do when an individual is positive.
The data are giving us reasons to be optmistic that the end of the pandemic is coming, but until it ends we will continue to monitor and adapt to changes. We hope you stay well and safe.
Head of School