Students at Carrabec High School have shifted to remote learning because state health officials opened an outbreak investigation this week after identifying several cases of COVID-19 associated with the school.

Just a week ago, school officials had rejected a proposal to adopt a mask mandate for the school after an initial handful of COVID cases were linked to the school. The school board had earlier decided to let parents decide whether kids wore masks to school, instead of mandating mask-wearing.

Mike Tracy, the Anson-based Regional School Unit 74 superintendent, sent a letter out to the community on Friday afternoon alerting them about the outbreak.

“Based on recommendations from the Maine CDC, we are closing the high school and moving to remote learning to help prevent further spread of COVID-19,” Tracy said in the letter.

Tracy did not indicate in this letter how many positive cases of COVID-19 and did not return a call on Friday. Last week, Carrabec High School canceled freshman orientation after district officials learned of seven cases associated with the school.

The district, which serves the towns of Anson, Embden, Solon and New Portland, has opted to make masking in schools optional for students and staff, even after the district’s board of directors learned of the cases that delayed the start of school for some students last week.

The RSU 74 board rejected a proposal last week from Tracy to modify in-person learning based on escalating coronavirus cases. Had they adopted this policy, students at Carrabec High School would have been required to temporarily wear masks in school to mitigate virus spread.

Federal health experts say masking alone will not completely prevent the spread of COVID-19, though it does help reduce the spread of the coronavirus most especially in indoor public settings. Masking that’s done in conjunction with social distancing, ventilation and proper hygiene can prevent transmission.

State officials reported 14 active outbreaks in schools on Friday, although so far schools are not considered to be sources of transmission. Students were instead believed to have been exposed to the virus in their communities as the more contagious delta variant spreads through all parts of the state. Meanwhile, 506 new cases of COVID-19 were also reported on Friday as well as eight additional deaths.

Carrabec’s school board has scheduled a special meeting next Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Carrabec Community School. Tracy said earlier this week in an email that the board will reconvene to discuss the district’s COVID-19 response plan.

Under the plan, the district would be in a “green” status if there was no more than a single COVID-19 case within a 10-day period at a school. Masking would remain optional and social distancing and hygiene practices would remain in place.

The district status would move to “yellow” if there were up to three cases at a school within a 10-day period. In this phase, masks would be required irrespective of vaccination status.

And the district would move into a “red” phase if more than three cases were recorded at a school over 10 days. This would mean students revert back to learning remotely.

It is not clear how many students have been impacted by this shift or how long students will be learning remotely at the high school.


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