A group of Old Town High School seniors wait for graduation to begin in the school's gym, June 11, 2021 Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Old Town High School has canceled in-person classes for the rest of the week as the school pivots to remote learning for at least two days. 

The school has identified 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 150 students who need to quarantine as a result because of potential exposure to the virus.

Of the students so far identified as close contacts, Superintendent David Walker said, 70 are vaccinated and the other 80 are not. 

In a message posted on the school’s website, Principal Scott Gordon said students should check their email Thursday morning before 8:30 a.m. to find a schedule and plan for the next two days. The move to remote learning is out of “an abundance of caution,” he said. 

Walker said the move to remote learning for the high school is due to the volume of cases there and to ensure the school district has enough time is given to do appropriate contact tracing — notifying students and staff potentially exposed to those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“This afternoon, it became clear that we were not going to be able to complete those investigations and result in a large number of notifications in a timely manner,” Walker said.

No other schools in RSU 34, which serves Old Town, Alton and Bradley, will switch to remote lessons.

During the next two days school officials will work to do more thorough contact tracing and evaluate the school’s current strategy to determine if anything needs to change going forward, Gordon said in the letter. 

On Tuesday, the school announced that all games and practices for the boys’ varsity and junior varsity soccer teams would be placed on hold until Sept. 23. 

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 60 to 64 percent of eligible students in RSU 34 — those 12 and older — have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some 76.6 percent of staff at Old Town High School were fully vaccinated as of the end of August, according to newly released state data.

Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...