OLD TOWN, Maine — As schools across Maine try to control the spread of COVID-19 in their classrooms, one school has implemented new rules aimed at enforcing mask-wearing.
Administrators at Old Town High School came up with a three-strike policy after 16 students tested positive for COVID-19 and 150 students had to quarantine as close contacts back in September.
The cases forced the school to learn remotely for two days while school leaders took time to consider making changes to procedures and policies, according to the high school's principal, Scott Gordon.
“We realized, as a staff, we could ask students to enforce mask-wearing better than they were," Gordon said. "While we thought [students] were very good when school started, we realized there were some areas we could tighten up and that’s one that we did.”
Under the new policy, students seen not wearing a face-covering properly will first be reminded by a teacher how to wear one properly. For strike two, students would be sent to the office to speak with an administrator. If improper mask-wearing continues, the student will be sent home from school for the day.
“Overall, I hope, like everything we’re trying to do is keep kids in school," Gordon added. "We learned from last year, the hard way, our students do a lot better when they’re [in school]. They’re better academically, it’s better for them socially. We want kids in school every single day. So, this is an effort to make sure they’re doing what we ask of them by wearing masks and keeping everyone safe, so that, they can remain in school and all their classmates can as well.”
Since implementing the policy last week, Gordon said none of Old Town High School’s 550 students have gone past strike one.