A Somerset County elementary school has 56 students and staff quarantining this weekend after a staff member tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Canaan Elementary School officials that a staff member who contracted the virus outside of school caused the spread, Superintendent of Schools Jon Moody said in an email on Friday. Those in quarantine include 47 students and 9 staff members — the equivalent of three classrooms of people, according to Moody’s email.
The 56 people in quarantine come amid a surge of new cases in Somerset County ― including 10 new on Saturday, 13 on Friday and 17 on Thursday.
The Maine Department of Education downgraded the county’s safety status to yellow on Friday. That means, per state guidelines, schools can only be open to students in hybrid status. Hybrid opening includes two to three in-school days of learning and remote learning on the other school days. Washington County was also changed to yellow status on Friday, bringing the total number of counties so designated to three. Waldo County was previously moved to yellow.
Because Somerset has a yellow designation, all in-person sports, competitions and after-school activities at Canaan have been canceled, Moody said.
School officials will be working with Maine CDC this weekend in hope of having in-person instruction on Monday.
“A positive aspect of this investigation is that it has affirmed that school cohorting and masking have had their intended effect in limiting the spread of COVID-19,” Moody said in the email.
School officials have prepared for the likelihood of at-home instruction on Monday, Moody said.
Across Maine, there’s been an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days. A record 119 new cases were reported in Maine on Friday. As of Saturday, the total confirmed active and probable cases now number 1,004, the highest number yet recorded in Maine.
Saturday’s report brings the total number of coronavirus cases diagnosed in Maine since the pandemic began to 6,668. Of those, 5,907 have been confirmed positive, while 761 were classified as “probable cases,” according to Maine CDC.