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Four counties remain ‘yellow’ for reopening schools; Waldo stays green

Androscoggin, Cumberland, Oxford and York still yellow
Dec 31, 2020

Augusta — Four of the Maine’s 16 counties — Androscoggin, Cumberland, Oxford and York — remain in the “yellow” category for reopening public schools, according to an announcement today, Dec. 31, from the Mills administration.

Authorities are closely monitoring increasing COVID-19 positivity rates in Aroostook and Penobscot counties, but they remain green. Waldo County remains in the green category.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention continue to review evidence that indicates lower transmission of COVID-19 in schools compared to the general population. Over the last 30 days, the rate of new cases is 33.5 per 100,000 staff and students, compared to 89.4 per 100,000 people statewide. This rate of new cases in schools is 37% lower than in the general population and is consistent with previous weeks.

DHHS and Maine CDC assessed COVID-19 data and trends for all counties and released the designations a day early, because tomorrow is a holiday.

REMAIN YELLOW: Androscoggin, Cumberland, Oxford, and York counties continue to have new case rates per 10,000 people and positivity rates that exceed the statewide average.

CLOSELY MONITOR: Aroostook and Penobscot counties remain green but their positivity rates have increased over the past 14 days, and are now above the statewide average.

All other counties remain in the green designation.

Under the “yellow” designation, which indicates an increased (moderate) level of community risk, schools may consider additional precautions, such as limiting numbers of people in school buildings at the same time, suspending extracurricular or co-curricular activities including competitions between schools, limiting interaction through cohorting, or other measures based on the unique needs of each school community.

The Health Advisory System categories are defined as follows:

RED: Categorization as “red” suggests that the county has a high risk of COVID-19 spread and that in-person instruction is not advisable.

YELLOW: Categorization as “yellow” suggests that that the county has an elevated risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider additional precautions and/or hybrid instructional models to reduce the number of people in schools and classrooms at any one time.

GREEN: Categorization as “green” suggests that the county has a relatively low risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider in-person instruction, as long as they are able to implement the required health and safety measures. Schools in a “green” county may need to use hybrid instruction models if there is insufficient capacity or other factors (facilities, staffing, geography/transportation, etc.) that may prevent full implementation of the health and safety requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Androscoggin, Cumberland, Oxford and York remain in the yellow category, according to a release from the Maine Department of Education Thursday afternoon, Dec. 31.

The DOE suggests that under a yellow model, schools may want to take additional precautions, such as suspending extracurricular activities and sports or limiting the number of people in buildings at one time.

Aroostook and Penobscot counties continue with a “green” designation, but the increased COVID-19 positivity rates in those counties are putting schools there in jeopardy of becoming yellow, the release noted.

Maine schools have seen 602 COVID-19 cases in the last 30 days, according to the schools COVID-19 dashboard published by the Maine CDC, which was last updated on Dec. 24.

The state’s color advisory system, which is run by the DOE in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services and Maine CDC, is meant as a recommendation. Final decisions on instructional models are left up to individual school districts.

The data is continually reviewed and Department of Education spokeswoman Kelli Deveaux has said the timeline is not fixed and flexibility is necessary to ensure timely updates to schools.

While most of the state has remained “green” since the start of the school year, meaning in-person instruction is allowed, most districts have opted for “yellow” models in order to adhere to the state’s required physical distance and safety guidelines.

 

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