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Maine DOE expected to release COVID-19 risk zones for all 16 counties

The Maine Department of Education is classifying counties as green, yellow, or red zones based on the risk of COVID-19 spread.

MAINE, USA — On Friday, July 31, the Maine Department of Education is expected to release some decisions that could indicate what school will look like this fall for students and staff across the state.

The Maine DOE will classify all 16 of Maine's counties as either green, yellow, or red zones, based on the risk of COVID-19 spread. These are guidelines to help schools districts make the tough decision as to whether to welcome students back to classrooms this fall. 

  • Green: relatively low risk of COVID-19 spread. Schools can consider in-person instruction with required health and safety measures.
  • Yellow: elevated risk of COVID-19 spread. Schools should consider hybrid instructional models to try to limit the number of people in classrooms at the same time.
  • Red: high risk of COVID-19 spread. In-person instruction is not advised.

The first zoning decisions released could change and, if they do, will be monitored every two weeks. The Maine DOE has asked school administrations statewide to prepare for all scenarios and the transitions in between them.

If a school decides to return to in-person learning, there will still be a lot of changes. The Maine DOE has listed six requirements, including:

  • Symptom screening for all staff and students before they come to school
  • Physical distancing
  • Use of masks or face coverings by staff and students
  • Proper hand hygiene, implemented with training
  • Use of personal protective equipment for the school nurse or staff members who are working closely with students
  • Isolation at home for staff and students, if they get sick

RELATED: Tips to normalize masks for your child before a potential return to classrooms

Maine DOE commissioner Pender Makin says she understands why parents may be anxious about sending their kids back if they are able to but is hoping they will trust the judgement of experts in our state.

"What I would tell parents is this -- at the Department of Education, and I think I can vouch/speak for the superintendents and the school leaders and the educators in our schools, we want to open back up," Makin told NEWS CENTER Maine via Zoom on July 17. "We want to open up in person for all children, but we want to do so only when it’s safe."

NEWS CENTER Maine will continue to update this story.