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Maine Schools Forced To Go Remote As COVID-19 Drives Staff Shortages

Several school districts in Maine have been forced to shut down in recent days due to staff shortages caused by increasing COVID-19 case counts.

At Houlton High School, administrators transitioned to remote learning early this week after two people associated with the school tested positive. Superintendent Ellen Halliday says 11 staff members identified as “close contacts” had to quarantine, and there weren’t enough substitutes available.

Halliday says with case counts rising, she expects this won’t be the last time that the school is forced back into remote learning.

“We have now entered a stage where we will be going between in-person and remote more frequently than we would like,” she says.

On Monday, RSU 56 in Dixfield announced that its middle and high schools would be move online until next week after several bus drivers tested positive for the virus, and others designated as close contacts were forced to quarantine.

Superintendent Pam Doyen says that there’s been little evidence of transmission of the virus within schools so far, but she’s asking community members to be cautious, as the effects of any positive case could force schools to close.

“I just keep pleading with them. As I say to the high school students all the time, when you leave here, you still have to be responsible. Because if you get it out there, it still impacts what happens in here,” she says.

Schools in Bangor and New Gloucester have also been forced to go remote in recent weeks due to staff shortages.

The Maine CDC has identified 313 cases of COVID-19 associated with K-12 schools over the past 30 days, but state officials say that there has been little evidence of viral transmission inside schools so far this fall.