RUMFORD — The Regional School Unit 10 board of directors agreed Monday not to close schools entirely due to COVID-19 cases, but instead have only those groups of students and teachers affected work from home for 10 days.

Previously, schools were closed when there were three separate students cases not in the same household and in the same school building, or an outbreak in the community.

On Monday, directors agreed with Superintendent Deb Alden and administrators that building administrators and the superintendent, in consultation with the school nurse, will determine when a school building should close for in-person learning.

RSU 10 Supt. Deb Alden submitted photo

Although the district follows guidance from the Maine Center for Disease Control, Alden said she recently met with Rumford Hospital administrators and an epidemiologist who works in the area for their advice.

“They felt, and we can’t stress this enough,” Alden said, “… the schools have really proven themselves. The schools are not contributing to the spread of COVID in our community. In fact, what the schools are doing has really helped not spread COVID.”

On Tuesday, Rumford Elementary School Principal Jill Bartash notified students and their families in a letter that the building will remain closed for in-person learning because “the CDC informed us that we have moved into outbreak status and our school policy required us to move to remote learning.”

Bartash said “several staff members tested positive for COVID and others (were) identified as close contacts to someone who has tested positive.”

The school has been closed since mid-January due to several cases of COVID over a two-week span, Bartash said in January. It was scheduled to reopen Feb. 8.

Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico has moved all eighth grade students to remote learning for the week because of one COVID-19 exposure and teaching staff under quarantine, Alden said Tuesday.

Other changes include fifth grade students will attend classes four days a week rather the two. Sixth-graders are expected to return to being in school four days a week next week, according to a Jan. 21 letter from Principal Ryan Casey.

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