A boy rides a bicycle past Portland High School on Saturday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Sixty-five students and staff members at Portland High School and Lyman Moore Middle School are facing quarantines after four cases of COVID-19 were detected at those and two other city schools, school administrators say.

Superintendent Xavier Botana said in an email Saturday that 44 people at Portland High School will have to quarantine, including 34 students and 10 staff. A total of 21 people will be quarantined at Lyman Moore, including 10 students and 11 staff, Botana said.

One person each tested positive at Rowe Elementary School, King Middle School, Lyman Moore Middle School and Portland High School, Botana said in a community letter Friday. The positive cases from Rowe and King were not at school during their infectious period, which means they did not have close contact with anyone at school, Botana said.

Botana did not identify the people who tested positive or specify what their roles were at their respective schools, citing health privacy rules. He did not say what condition they were in, either. He said Saturday anyone who had close contact with a person who tested positive has been notified.

Botana said the schedules and class sizes at the schools will not be changing at this time because of the COVID-19 cases, or putting people in quarantine. He said affected students will be learning remotely.

When asked if safety measures might be changed, Botana said school officials are “confident that our approach is working well overall” because none of the cases originated in the school. But he said in light of  the “significant” number of close contacts who have to be quarantined,  officials will “take a look at what we could do differently.”

A young couple walks past Portland High School on Cumberland Avenue on Saturday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Portland High School has been hosting many fewer students this fall, as all Portland students in grades 10 through 12 are taking their core cases remotely due to the pandemic. All ninth-grade students at PHS attend in-person two days a week for three hours a day. Most elementary and middle school students in Portland have been in-person two days per week this year.

In his letter, Botana urged community members to follow pandemic safety guidelines, including wearing masks, practicing hand hygiene, maintaining physical distance and keeping children home if they show symptoms of illness.

“We are hoping for the speedy recovery of our community members,” Botana said in the letter. “COVID-19 cases are rising nationwide and in Maine and this pandemic continues to pose challenges for all of us. We believe that our district can maintain safe and healthy learning environments if we continue to strictly adhere to our safe practices.”

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