Directors of Regional School Unit 56 check out the newly renovated gym Tuesday at Dirigo High School in Dixfield. It had not been updated since it was built in 1967. From left are Natalie Sneller and Carl Lueders, both of Canton, and Bruce Ross of Dixfield, Superintendent Pam Doyen and Director Tim Kelly of Dixfield. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

DIXFIELD — The number students with COVID-19 or in quarantine has dropped from 87 to 21 in the past two weeks, Superintendent Pam Doyen told directors Tuesday.

Doyen said she wasn’t sure why the decrease, particularly since the infection rates remain high in Oxford County.

The two-week period was from Nov. 10 to 23.

At a board of directors meeting Nov. 9, Doyen reported the much higher number for the weeks of Oct. 27 to Nov. 9, saying most of the students then were in quarantine because they were in close contact with an infected person.

Dirigo High School and T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School, both in Dixfield and Dirigo Elementary School in Peru are participating in pooled testing, which helps get COVID-19 asymptomatic people verified sooner, Doyen said.

In another matter, Doyen said she was “thrilled” to see Maine School Board Association recently recognize all school nurses with the Distinguished Service Award for 2021.

“Our nurses have gone above and beyond to complete their regular responsibilities, as well as all of the responsibilities associated with COVID-19,” she said. “We are fortunate to have Erin Wainwright at (Dixfield Elementary School), Kathy Wilcox at (the middle school) and Devan Melcher at (the high school) in our district. Congratulations to all three of them as they truly deserve this award.”

In other news, several directors viewed the renovated gym floor at the high school after the board meeting. The gym was built in 1967 and the floor had never been renovated since. Besides the floor, bleachers were improved and the walls were painted.

“I’m just so amazed at the work we’ve done to improve our facilities,” Director Bruce Ross of Dixfield said. “They’re probably in the best shape that we’ve seen, that I can recall, and I’ve been on the board for several years.

“Between the custodians and the outside contractors, we have three facilities that are going to be in very good shape for years to come,” he said. He praised “the hard work that our custodians have done and the hard work and the commitment of the communities to look after these buildings and maintain them.”

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