Schools In Oxford County Moved To 'Yellow' Designation After Mill Outbreak

Sep 25, 2020

Oxford County has joined York County in its yellow designation under the Maine Department of Education's COVID-19 color-coded risk system. That means schools are advised to take additional precautions to prevent transmission of the virus.

Schools in yellow counties are encouraged to use hybrid learning models, in which students learn both at home and in school. That is what most schools are doing already. But the yellow color code also means schools should suspend co-curricular activities and sports.

The loss of those activities in RSU10, which serves seven towns in Oxford County, has been disappointing to the school community, says superintendent Deb Alden.

"I've already heard from very frustrated parents and students," Alden says.

The school board also voted this week to move to fully remote learning for two weeks in the schools that include Rumford and surrounding communities, a move that affects about 1,200 students. Alden says the district has had one positive case that required a classroom of students and several staff to quarantine.

"The students were great about following the rules,” says Alden. “They really were. And the staff worked really hard with it as well. So, I truly believe our schools were safe themselves. But if it starts spreading out in the community, it's very difficult."

There's an outbreak of 23 cases at the ND Paper mill in Rumford. One person has died. Dr. Nirav Shah of the Maine Center for Disease Control said in recent briefings that the agency is still trying to determine whether transmission of the virus happened at the mill or in the community.

Correction: York County has 16 outbreaks, not 15.

Updated 5:29 p.m. September 25, 2020