Because of the danger to student and employee health, school boards are required by law to adopt a policy for enforcement by the superintendent to safeguard the health of any student or employee who has contracted or been exposed to a communicable disease [Title 20-A §1001(11- A)]. Schools should have protocols and procedures for:
- Educating school personnel regarding symptoms and management of communicable diseases
- Training for handling blood-borne pathogens (Required by OSHA)
- Keeping children with signs of communicable disease at home and seek appropriate treatment
- Record-keeping regarding non-immunized children during outbreaks
- Exclusion and follow-up of children who are not immunized against vaccine preventable diseases or who have contracted a communicable disease.
- Designating the school nurse (or other school official) as liaison with public health officials for the reporting of “notifiable” communicable diseases.
School Absentee Reporting (>15% due to illness)
In addition to individual cases, when a potential outbreak, including those involving exposure to a communicable disease, toxic agent, environmental hazard, or a potential epidemic is identified, immediate notification to the Maine CDC should be made. One of the ways these outbreaks can be identified is through elevated school absenteeism. Schools have long partnered with the Maine CDC to report elevated absentee rates (>15%). School nurses have access to the reporting tool through Maine DOE's website. For step by step direction see the NEO Reporting Reference Guide.
If your school unit decides that it would be appropriate for someone other than the school nurse to submit this report, you can contact the Help Desk to add users. DOE Data Helpdesk page
This tool will report elevated absentee rates to both DOE and Maine CDC in one step, without calling the hotline. Maine CDC staff will follow up with the school nurse as needed.
Norovirus/GI Outbreak Toolkit
- Checklist for Suspected Outbreak
- Norovirus Fact Sheet-CDC
- School Closure Guidance
- Template Letter for GI Illness
Most diseases must be handled locally and are not reported to public health officials such as ringworm, impetigo, and scabies. The School Health page managed by Maine CDC contains disease specific information sheets that include symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, role of the school nurse including prevention recommendations and links to more information. Questions and consults may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-821-5821.