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Maine superintendents react to new Maine CDC recommendation on masks in school

The Maine and U.S. CDC announced this week they're strongly encouraging mask wearing in schools for students and staff regardless of vaccination status

MAINE, USA — The Maine CDC announced it's adopting recommendations from the U.S. CDC this week, recommending all teachers, students and staff wear masks upon returning to the classroom this fall, regardless of vaccination status. 

Now, Maine superintendents are preparing their own guidance for schools ahead of the start of the school year.

"It's been a bit of a waiting game, trying to figure out what conditions are going to change," said Gorham School District Superintendent Heather Perry.

Perry said she's currently preparing guidance to issues to parents and staff next week, but is planning listen to Maine health leaders.

"Those kinds of recommendations we take very very seriously, so even though they may say recommendations, you'd have to have some really good reasons why you wouldn't follow them," Perry said.

Perry said her recommendations will all have to go through the Gorham School Board as well. That's the case in Lewiston, too. Lewiston Superintendent Jake Langlais is preparing to provide his reopening recommendations to the School Committee on Monday.

"The recommendation I'll be making to the school committee Monday evening, is we make masking in schools a family choice," Langlais said. "What we can't do is force our will on families and their choices."

Superintendents across the state are now preparing guidance which will go before various school boards and committees. 

"I think they're turning now to Superintendents to make those mandates, and I think that puts superintendents in a real difficult situation," said York Superintendent Lou Goscinski.

Goscinski said he will be listening to Maine CDC recommendations and urging mask-wearings, but not mandating it.

"We'll be following, to a T, Dr. Shah's recommendations where we will be strongly recommending masks for students and employees," Goscinski said. 

Ultimately, whether or not students will be wearing masks this fall will be up to decision made by school committees. Current recommendations from the Maine CDC are only recommendations, not mandates like had been issued during the previous school year when Maine still had a Civil State of Emergency in effect.