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Maine DOE reclassifies Oxford County schools as 'yellow'

York County remains yellow and is still an area of concern, the DOE says. Androscoggin is green but is being closely monitored.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Mills Administration on Friday released its updated color-coded classifications for counties' relative risk of COVID-19 transmission, reclassifying Oxford County from "green" to "yellow."

In collaboration with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC), and Maine DOE, the State says the change from green to yellow for Oxford County is a result of "rapid and significant increases in COVID-19 prevalence."

Findings show the rate of new COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents in Oxford County over the last two weeks jumped from 4.66 cases to 10.69 cases, exceeding the rate of new cases in York County. Its two-week positivity rate increased from 1.6 to 2.1 percent.

In the Maine DOE's last guidance update, York County was moved from green to yellow amid "concerning trends" and outbreaks in the area. York County remains yellow and is "still an area of concern." 

York County's rate of new cases per 10,000 residents over the last two weeks increased from 7.66 to 9.44. Its positivity rate remains at 2 percent and Maine CDC has opened eight outbreak investigations in the last two weeks. Most of the outbreak activity remains concentrated in the Sanford and Springvale area, but a number of new cases in York County are not readily traced to known outbreaks, suggesting increasing community transmission.

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A yellow designation indicates a moderate level of community risk. With the designation, the Maine Department of Education (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.

Androscoggin County remains green but the Maine DOE says it will be closely monitored as its new case rate has increased from 3.79 to 6.67 per 10,000 residents over the last two weeks. The positivity rate also increased slightly from 0.6 to 0.7 percent. 

Androscoggin County, as well as counties designated as yellow, are being monitored closely and will be reassessed weekly, the Maine DOE says. 

Maine’s other 13 counties remain green and will be reassessed every two weeks.