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Classes resume under new COVID guidance

Quarantines are cut in half and close contact criteria are reduced in most Maine school districts.

YARMOUTH, Maine — Yarmouth Superintendent of Schools Andrew Dolloff is dealing with a COVID spike. 

In a Monday interview, he said 44 new cases had been reported in his district. That doubled the case number up to that point in the school year. He also said they had 48 cases all of the last school year.

"Our intent is to stay in school and provide in-person learning as consistently as possible," he said when asked about the possibility of moving to remote learning down the road. "It’s just gonna come down to whether or not we can staff the schools."

As Dolloff and superintendents across the state are returning from break, they’re doing so with new guidance from the Maine CDC and Department of Education.

Under the new "standard operating procedure," isolation and quarantine time is cut in half from 10 days to five. Also, exposure to COVID-19 outside or on a bus, where masking is federally mandated, is no longer considered to make a person a "close contact."

Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin told NEWS CENTER Maine on the guidance strikes a "balance" between sound scientific reason and giving schools leeway where they can.

"They match that up with the needs and capabilities and capacities of our state, and what’s best for Maine students, Maine communities, and with the most recent science."

Superintendents across Maine, including RSU 21, RSU 5, and Dolloff's Yarmouth district wrote letters to families and staff over the weekend, explaining the new guidance and their plans for the new year. 

One notable outlier was Maine’s largest district. Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana wrote that his schools would keep the older, more stringent policies until the district further assessed the new guidance. 


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