State officials have once again classified York County as “green,” meaning schools in the region can consider bringing back all students for in-person learning.
In a statement, the Maine Department of Education says it made the decision because of falling case numbers in the county and “a lower positivity rate of .9 percent.” That number is still higher than the state as a whole but is lower than it has been in previous weeks.
As of Thursday, the state was continuing to monitor open outbreaks at schools in Sanford, York and Waterboro.
The new classification means that schools in York County can look toward returning to full, in-person learning, while still observing requirements including mask wearing and social distancing. The classification also means that sports teams in the county can resume in-person practices, but it comes with only a few weeks left in the fall season.
John Suttie, the superintendent of RSU 23 in Old Orchard Beach, says that even with the abbreviated season, administrators plan to offer students some athletic events.
“Even if we don’t end up having any contests with other schools, I think the kids are looking forward to being with their coaches and having some sort of informal practices, at least, within our school and on our campus. I think that’s something that would be uplifting for our kids,” he says.
And in Biddeford, Superintendent Jeremy Ray says athletic activities might resume as soon as next week. And Ray says the district also hopes to resume its drumline and music programs, which he says could make school feel a bit more normal for students.
“Hopefully bringing back a stronger sense of excitement in school can happen a little bit more, like it has in other years, and this helps continue to keep them engaged, not only in their studies but in the social aspects of school,” he says.
With the new update, every county in Maine is once again classified as “green,” though the state says it will continue to monitor Androscoggin, Kennebec and Somerset counties. And despite the green light, many schools have continued with “hybrid” reopening plans, with students only going into classrooms part-time.
Ray says Biddeford plans to stick with a hybrid school schedule for now because of spacing concerns.