Bangor High School is seen in this 2018 file photo. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

Four Maine counties are now on the state’s list of counties where state health officials are advising against full-time, in-person education.

That’s down from five counties last week, as Oxford County has joined the list of “yellow” counties and Franklin and Washington counties have come off the list. They have returned to a “green” designation as their rates of new cases have stabilized, according to the Maine Department of Education.

That means Androscoggin, Oxford, Somerset and York counties are in the yellow category.


In “yellow” counties, state officials recommend a combination of in-person and remote learning. Schools in counties labeled “green” can consider opening in person full-time.

Penobscot County is also on the state’s watch list for a potential change to yellow, as new cases in the county have picked up in recent weeks. In Bangor, a number of the city’s schools have seen cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks, and Bangor High School and William S. Cohen Middle School have been fully online this week. Brewer High School and Nokomis Regional High School in Newport are also dealing with coronavirus outbreaks.

Penobscot County has maintained a lower rate of COVID-19 infections than the state’s other more populous counties throughout the pandemic, but it saw 28.26 new COVID-19 cases for every 10,000 residents over the past two weeks, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s above the statewide rate of 21.17 new cases per 10,000 residents.

The county’s rate of COVID-19 tests coming back positive — an indicator of how widely the virus is spreading — has also risen to 3.4 percent over the past two weeks, though that rate is below the statewide rate of 3.7 percent.

Androscoggin County has kept the state’s highest rate of new cases over the past two weeks, with 34.73 new infections for every 10,000 residents.

Maine schools have seen 338 coronavirus cases among students and staff members over the past month, and more than two dozen schools have dealt with outbreaks — three or more connected cases — in that time, according to the state.

Despite the rising number of cases connected to schools, state health officials have said the coronavirus is spreading less actively in schools than other settings as Maine has dealt with a record-setting surge of the virus over the past month. That’s largely due to the range of precautions schools have taken this academic year, including face-covering requirements, socially distanced classrooms and arrangements that have limited the numbers of students who interact with each other.

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