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All Maine counties remain green in Mills administration's updated return-to-school designations

All counties continue to be designated “green,” suggesting that all counties have a relatively low risk of spread and that schools may consider in-person instruction

AUGUSTA, Maine — Governor Janet Mills' administration released an updated, color-coded Health Advisory System on Friday that classifies counties’ relative risk of COVID-19 transmission as schools continue to develop their plans to deliver instruction to students this fall.

The updated assessment showed that Maine’s 16 counties continue to be designated “green,” suggesting that all counties have a relatively low risk of COVID-19 spread and schools may consider in-person instruction, as long as they are able to implement the required health and safety measures.  

This means there have been no changes from the initial launch of the system two weeks ago.

The classifications were developed by Maine's Health Advisory System, which is a collaboration among the Maine Department of Education (DOE), the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC). 

The classifications were developed to categorize counties based on quantitative and qualitative data about COVID-19 including, but not limited to, recent data on case rates, positivity rates, and syndromic data (e.g., symptoms of influenza or COVID-19). This system categorizes counties by three-color based designations: red, yellow, and green.

RELATED: All 16 Maine counties get initial go-ahead for in-person instruction in schools

The Health Advisory System categorizations 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 as a way 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.

RELATED: MDOE released back to school survey initial findings

Regardless of their county's red, yellow, or green designation, Mills said districts must also meet the State's requirements for safely opening schools to protect the safety and well-being of staff, students, and families. They fall into six categories:

  1. Symptom Screenings Before Coming to School
  2. Physical distancing and school facilities
  3. Masks/Face Coverings
  4. Hand Hygiene
  5. Personal Protective Equipment
  6. Return to School After Illness

According to Mills, the Health Advisory System reflects ongoing analysis of evolving data and serves as one piece of information that school and district leaders can use to make decisions about how to deliver education this fall. 

The color designations will be updated at 12 p.m. every other Friday, and can be found on the Maine DOE website in Part I of the Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction.

More on the color designations released Friday can be found HERE.