10-23-20 Fryeburg Academy

A sign at Fryeburg Academy says it is closed to visitors. After a student tested positive for COVID-19, Head of School Erin Mayo sent students home for the day on Friday. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

FRYEBURG, Maine — Fryeburg Academy let students out early Friday after one of them tested positive for COVID-19, the head of school announced Friday morning.

Head of School Erin Mayo's letter to parents, shared with the Sun by a parent, said:

"I write to notify you that a student on the Fryeburg Academy campus has tested positive for COVID-19," said Mayo. "The affected individual has been isolated. Immediate family members and all identified close contacts are being called and directed to quarantine, monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and work with their health-care provider to get tested as directed by the Maine CDC and the Maine Department of Education."

Maine CDC defines close contacts as "an individual in the same physical space for 15 minutes or longer such as a classroom, team, or during an activity.”

The letter says that while the school could remain open for the day per the Maine CDC, administrators chose to send students home at 11:30 a.m. and close the campus. During the closure, the campus will be cleaned.

Dorm students and "essential personnel" are to keep social distancing protocols and wear masks.

Asked about the communication between the academy and MSAD 72, Mayo said school the respective school nurses agreed to contact each other in the event of positive cases. 

Mayo, in contrast to MSAD 72 Superintendent Jay Robinson and SAU 9 Superintendent Kevin Richard, disclosed immediately that the positive case was a student.

On Oct. 7, Robinson announced that an "individual associated with MSAD 72" had tested positive for COVID-19.

On Oct. 9, Richard announced there was a case at Kennett High School but declined to say whether the person was a student or a staff member.

This past Tuesday, Richard announced a positive case at Conway Elementary School without giving any further detail on the identity of the person.

FA and MSAD 72, SAU 9 have a 14-day quarantine period for those who might have been exposed.

Mayo said in her letter that extracurricular and athletic activities were canceled on Friday and that the administration would "evaluate upcoming weekend events."

She said on Monday classes would be held remotely.

"Campus closure and remote instruction will last for a minimum of one day and may continue beyond that time," she said.

"We are in process right now of calling the families of students whom the Maine CDC has identified as close contacts, and we're following up with an informational letter that's derived from guidance by our appointed epidemiologist at the Maine CDC,” said Mayo. 

She promised parents and students that she would send out more information as it becomes available.

"We are committed to communicating as fully as possible, but please remember that we are not permitted to release the identity of an infected individual. Be assured that we at the Academy will proceed with all due caution and prioritize our school community’s health and safety in the decisions to come as a result of this development."

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