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Maine schools deal with increase in COVID cases

RSU 73 is remote through Nov. 14 after the superintendent said the district had 67 positive cases from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3.

WINTHROP, Maine — Winthrop Public Schools Superintendent Jim Hodgkin wrote a letter to the school committee asking members to consider options to bring down the number of COVID cases and the need for quarantines. An emergency school committee meeting is being held Tuesday night.

"We've done everything as a school that we can possibly do to try to mitigate or slow down the spread of COVID, but it's not working," Hodgkin said. "The only thing left for us to do is to shut down completely, which we don't want to do, or do remote learning."

His options include making the school week of Nov. 15 remote and also making the week of Nov. 29 remote because of Thanksgiving travel.

He said since the start of the school year, 17 students combined at the middle and high school have tested positive. He said, right now, 60 students at Winthrop Grade School are in quarantine. He also said there is one positive student at the high school and one positive staff member who works at both the high school and middle school.

Other districts are dealing with similar issues.

RSU 73 is remote through Nov. 14 after the superintendent said the district had 67 positive cases from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3.

There was also no in-person or remote instruction Tuesday for students at Ellsworth Elementary Middle School after the superintendent said 11 people associated with that school tested positive.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said the state is aware of an uptick in cases at schools.

"We do urge all school staff and now children who are eligible for the vaccine to get a vaccine. Our way out of this pandemic is vaccination," Lambrew said.

Hodgkin said there will be a vaccine clinic later this week for students 5-11.

On Tuesday night, the Winthrop Public School Committee decided that students will not have school or any remote learning on Mon, Nov. 22, and Tues, Nov. 23. 

Those days will be added to the end of the school year. The committee decided students will learn in person the week after Thanksgiving.

It decided Tuesday's meeting was an emergency one after the superintendent asked the committee to consider remote days to combat the spread of COVID. The committee decided remote days are not efficient enough.

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