A mask reminder sign hangs on the entry doors to Brewer High School. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Brewer schools will now require that students and staff wear masks for the upcoming school year, reversing course on a policy from earlier in the summer that made them optional.

Due to rising caseloads and the delta variant’s contagiousness, masks will now be required at Brewer Community School and Brewer High School, Superintendent Gregg Palmer said in a letter to parents and school staff late last week.

The school committee had passed an optional masking plan at an Aug. 2 meeting.

In his original letter announcing the optional policy, Palmer said he had reserved the right to implement universal masking if conditions changed “based on facts on the ground.”

Recently, Palmer said, the school department had recorded a few cases as people began returning to schools for preseason and other activities.

One factor in the shift to universal masking were new Maine Department of Education guidelines that allow students exposed to COVID-19 cases to forgo quarantines as long as there’s universal masking and students aren’t showing symptoms.

“That is a significant change and a way to keep everyone at school as we open up full time to all our students,” Palmer said.

Quarantines due to COVID-19 cases were a frequent cause of schedule disruptions throughout the last school year.

Masking will continue to be required on school buses to comply with a federal policy mandating that they be worn on public transportation.

Brewer’s new masking policy falls in line with other area school departments requiring masks such as Bangor, Orono and Milford.

Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.