AUGUSTA, Maine — Androscoggin, Cumberland, Oxford, and York counties all remain designated as "yellow" in the Maine Department of Education's (DOE) latest color-coded relative risk of COVID-19 transmission update Thursday.
Aroostook and Penobscot counties remain green, but their positivity rates have increased over the past 14 days and are now above the statewide average, according to the Maine DOE. Those counties are being closely monitored. All other counties remain in the "green" designation.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) say evidence 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.
A "yellow" designation indicates a moderate level of community risk. With the designation, the Maine DOE asks schools to consider additional precautions, such as limiting numbers of people in school buildings at the same time, suspending all 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 color-coded system was implemented at the end of July to help give schools guidance on how to safely restart school amid the pandemic. All 16 counties got the initial go-ahead from the State, all receiving a "green" designation, though many districts opted for a hybrid model.
Here's how the classifications work:
- 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 DOE said these designations are made out of an abundance of caution and for the consideration of school administrative units in their decisions to deliver instruction.
The next update will be provided on Jan. 15, 2021.