BANGOR, Maine — The start of the school year hasn’t been easy for some Maine districts. Within the first several weeks of classes, schools from Freeport to Van Buren have required some students to quarantine due to COVID-19 infections.
Officials with the Bangor School Department said they feel they've been successful in stopping the spread of COVID in classrooms.
“We’ve been in person the entire time and we are very happy [about it]," said James Tager, superintendent of the Bangor School Department. "We have not had any spread within the schools. So, it’s still a community spread.”
Tager said he credits the school department's masking requirements, social distancing, and other safety measures for not having to switch to remote learning.
The Downeast School is one elementary school serving children in Bangor. Principal Sarah Vickers told NEWS CENTER MAINE that out of her 375 students, only one has tested positive for COVID so far.
"We are spacing kids out in the cafeteria, we have seating charts to track if there are close contacts," Vickers said. "So, all those pieces are really making a difference to keep kids in school.”
Tager said communication between the schools and parents has and will play an important role this year.
“We are letting the families know right away, at that particular school, if their students are in close contact," he added.
Over at Bangor's Mary Snow School, Principal Dan Chadbourne said parents have been letting the school know when their children have had close contact with COVID-19.
“We have parents really engaging us and telling us these things have happened so we can prepare, which then hopefully eliminates or diminishes the opportunity for kids to maybe contact [COVID] here in school,” said Chadbourne.
A Bangor School Department spokesperson told NEWS CENTER MAINE they hope to begin pool testing early next month. They're waiting on supplies, as well as searching for extra staff to do the testing.