AUGUSTA, Maine — On Friday, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) re-classified Oxford County from "green" to "yellow," citing the county's rising positivity rate, which stands at 6.1 percent.
The color-coded classifications for Maine counties, based on the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Maine Center for Disease Control's (CDC) assessment, shows the relative risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Based on their assessment, Androscoggin, Somerset, and York counties have a two-week positivity rate that is greater than 4 percent; they will remain yellow.
Franklin and Washington counties' new case rates per 10,000 people have fallen below the state average of 41.1 cases per 10,000, the Maine DOE says, so they are now designated as green, along with all other counties.
Penobscot County is being closely monitored as its new case rate per 100,000 is increasing.
Maine DHHS and Maine CDC continue to review evidence that indicates lower transmission of COVID-19 in schools compared to the general population. Over the last 30 days, the new case rate in Maine schools, including both students and staff, was 15.5 cases per 10,000 people. That compares to 41.1 cases per 10,000 in Maine overall.
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 is scheduled for Dec. 11.