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Health

Lewiston school superintendent urges staff, families to get vaccines as COVID forces many to stay home

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Lewiston Public Schools
Lewiston High School

Spikes in COVID-19 cases at Lewiston schools have school officials concerned that they will have to shut down schools and return to remote learning.

Staff shortages at Lewiston Middle School forced more than 150 students to learn remotely on Friday, and 16 staff were also out.

Lewiston Superintendent Jake Langlais says his staff is working hard to keep the schools operating smoothly, but those staff, parents and students that don't follow COVID-19 mitigation strategies are making the job nearly impossible.

Langlais says if everybody did their part by getting vaccinated, participating in pool testing, and quarantining when asked, the school year could proceed with less disruption.

"There's more that we can do. It's time to do that. If you can be vaccinated, you should be, we're going to vaccinate 5 to 11 year olds, we're adding to pooled testing so we can prevent spread," he says.

Langlais says on one day this week, there were 114 district staff members out. With 150 unfilled positions on top of that, he is watching closely to see if remote learning will be needed in other schools.

"One of the things that challenges me is a staff that is identified as a close contact, they're not vaccinated, not in pooled testing and I have to tell them to go home for 10 days. That's ten days we can't serve kids with that staff," he says.