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Maine Schools Announce Closures To Limit Spread Of Coronavirus

Tom Porter
Maine Public/file

Editor's note: On Sunday, Gov. Janet Mills recommended all public schools in the state end classroom intruction as soon as is practical.

At least a dozen school districts across the state are closing for at least two weeks in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

As of Saturday night there was no comprehensive list available, but schools that had publicly announced closures starting Monday included: Portland, LewistonBar Harbor, Biddeford, Bangor, Falmouth, BrunswickWells-OgunquitMilo, Yarmouth, Gorham, Westbrook, Waterboro, Belfast, MillinocketLee Academy and Indian Township School in Princeton. Many districts have said that they intend to continue to offer meal programs for students, with some schools moving toward online learning options.

"We are aware of the fact that closing schools will be a hardship for all families. For our most disadvantaged community members, it will represent an even greater hardship," wrote Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana in a letter on Saturday. "While our team has been working diligently to prepare for school closings, we will not yet be prepared to provide alternate forms of education and nutrition on Monday and Tuesday, March 16th and 17th. We intend to be ready to do that by Wednesday, March 18th. On Tuesday, we will be sharing information on the educational and nutritional options that will be available for our students."

In an email, Maine School Management Association Executive Director Steve Bailey said that he was unaware of the exact number or geography of districts that had announced closures so far.

"We do not know the full number at this time — and we know that each district is making their decision based on what they think is in the best interest of their students, staff and families," Bailey said.

The Maine Department of Education did not return an immediate request for comment on Saturday night.

This story is developing and Maine Public will continue to update as new information becomes available.