Bangor High School is the latest site of a COVID-19 outbreak as some of Maine’s largest school districts see increases in cases during Thanksgiving week.
Three cases of COVID-19 were reported at Bangor High School, according to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah. South Portland High School, Brewer High School, Auburn Middle School and Foxcroft Academy also recorded three epidemiologically linked cases each — which constitutes an outbreak — in the past two days, Shah said.
Bangor High School is currently closed and will continue remote learning until students return on Dec. 7, according to Interim Superintendent Kathy Harris-Smedberg. The school first shut down on Nov. 7 when the district recorded its first positive case.
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Brewer High School is also closed because of the outbreak, according to a letter Superintendent Gregg Palmer sent to parents on Monday. Students will return for in-person schooling next Thursday.
The Mary Snow School building in Bangor is also closed this week due to a positive COVID-19 case, though no classes are scheduled this week. Parent-teacher conferences are being held remotely.
This is also the second time Brewer High School has seen COVID-19 cases. Brewer was the first school in the Bangor area to record a COVID-19 case in late September, but the high school stayed open as only a small group of people had to quarantine due to exposure.
Over the past 30 days, Maine schools have recorded 313 cases among students and staff, and a number of schools have seen outbreaks — in which three or more cases are connected.
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Despite the cases in students and employees, the virus hasn’t been spreading rampantly within schools because of a range of safety precautions that have been in effect, including mask requirements, spaced-out classroom arrangements, smaller class sizes and other arrangements that limit interaction among different groups of students and teachers.
“We still have not found sustained evidence of widespread transmission of COVID-19 in schools,” Shah said. “Instead what we have seen is that cases are detected, because of the fact that schools themselves serve as gathering points within the community.”