10-23-20 Fryeburg Academy

Fryeburg Academy pictured around noontime Friday. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

FRYEBURG, Maine — After Fryeburg Academy let students out early last Friday saying a student had tested positive for COVID-19, the head of school announced Saturday that a teacher also has come down with the virus.

"Since my notification to you yesterday, a Fryeburg Academy teacher has tested positive for COVID-19," said Erin Mayo in a letter to the school community.

"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," she said.

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.”

Mayo said Saturday: "We are beginning notification of campus close contacts immediately.

"If your child is a close contact of the case-positive employee, you’ll receive notice from school nurse Sarah Sartory, along with directions for quarantining and testing," she told parents.

Fryeburg Academy and MSAD 72 in Maine and SAU 9 in New Hampshire have a 14-day quarantine period for those who might have been exposed.

Students last had contact with the teacher on Oct. 23, said school nurse Sartory in a letter to Fryeburg families.

She said those who were in contact with the teacher should contact their primary-care physician to be tested this week.

"The CDC requests that you have your child tested for COVID-19 five to seven days after the last contact with the positive case, so the advisable testing dates are next Wednesday, Oct. 28, through Friday, Oct. 30," said Sartory.

Families without primary-care physicians were told to contact Memorial Hospital in North Conway or Fryeburg Family Medicine.  

Mayo had said last Friday that classes would be held remotely on Monday. On Saturday, she announced remote learning would be extended up through Nov. 6.

Mayo, in contrast to MSAD 72 Superintendent Jay Robinson and SAU 9 Superintendent Kevin Richard, disclosed immediately that the positive cases were, first, a student and then a teacher.

On Oct. 7, Robinson had 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.

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

The Sun asked Mayo about that.

"I don't think our various schools' guidelines are any different; we've specified 'student' because we can do so and still respect confidentiality," said Mayo Friday.

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

Sartory had this general advice to parents and community members:

"It’s clear that COVID-19 has made its way into the area and our school community. I advise you and all FA families and employees who are not considered close contacts to stay home as much as possible, refrain from attending social gatherings or having visitors to your home, refrain from traveling and please take care of each other. We are all in this together. We all need to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community."

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