The Maine Maritime Academy training ship State of Maine is docked at the school's Castine campus in this May 2019 file photo. Credit: Nick Sambides Jr. / BDN

Maine Maritime Academy in Castine has more than a dozen active cases of COVID-19, according to the school.

The school had 13 active cases as of Wednesday, though it didn’t specify how many of the cases were among students and how many were among employees. Ten were detected through the school’s on-campus testing program, and three more active cases were reported to the school and confirmed by Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In response, the school is planning to move fully to remote instruction next week and will hold all exams for the term remotely.

“Like the rest of Maine we are seeing more positive cases in our community,” Maine Maritime Academy spokesperson Jennifer DeJoy said Thursday. “Our decision to pivot now [to remote instruction] is due to an abundance of caution about potential impact upon our campus and the local community.”

The school began testing students and staff this past summer and, as the fall semester was about to start, detected three cases in early September. Out of nearly 2,900 tests conducted since late summer, 14 cases have been detected, according to information posted on MMA’s website.

The school will conduct some needed in-person classes and assessments on Thursday and Friday this week, but is moving other courses to remote instruction immediately. As of Monday, Nov. 16, all instruction will be online-only, the website says.

Final exams for this term will not be held in person, with each faculty member determining the exam format for their courses. Some exams and assessments instead might be held when in-person classes resume on campus next spring.

The school still plans to resume in-person instruction in January.

“As you know, we had hoped to operate through Thanksgiving on campus, and the realities of the pandemic are such that we must change our plan,” the school’s president, William Brennan, said in a message to students and staff posted on MMA’s website. “While we are making this swift change to mitigate the impact of the virus now, we are also looking toward the future.”

In July, the school’s annual training cruise was held “fast” — with the ship docked first in Castine and then Searsport — because of concerns about having the training ship State of Maine travel to other ports during a pandemic. During a typical MMA training cruise, cadets are at sea for a couple of months and stop at foreign ports.

Maine has seen some of the lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases on college campuses in the nation, though that number has risen in recent weeks as the state has contended with a surge in new virus cases.

On Monday, Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah said some of the spread on college campuses has been because of student parties, prompting a message from him for students to “do the right thing” and avoid those gatherings.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....