RUMFORD — The directors of Regional School Unit 10 are following the latest guidelines from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention for handling COVID-19 cases in schools.

The decision at Monday’s meeting at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford followed a lengthy discussion with some school nurses and a review of the CDC’s Standard Operating Procedure updated Dec. 30.

Abbey Rice of Rumford objected to a change that allows students and staff, who are required to wear masks, to return after a recent exposure to the coronavirus. It “seems insane to me to call that a quarantine,” she said.

Meroby Elementary School nurse Nicole Pinkham said the exception is made because masks are mandated for all students and staff.

The latest change requiring only five days of quarantine rather than 10 for those who are exposed to COVID-19 and are symptom-free will still include “symptom monitoring” at home and in the schools, Pinkham said.

“They’re still in quarantine for five days from the last day of exposure and then for another five days they are still symptom monitoring,” she said. “So, they’re still in quarantine essentially for 10 days. We’re still allowing them to come to school. The expectation is that they would quarantine in the community.”

Penny Carrier, a secretary at Rumford Elementary School, spoke during public comments, saying she did not think it was safe for students and staff who have a confirmed COVID-19 positive family member to attend school “without quarantining for 10 days.”

“Allowing students and staff to return after only five days of quarantine without a negative test puts everyone in jeopardy,” she said. “For example, in our elementary school, students eat breakfast, snack, and lunch without masks or social distancing. This is approximately one hour per day. The CDC guidelines change, but a five-day quarantine does not make sense for a school setting.”

As of Jan. 7, Superintendent Deb Alden reported 51 COVID-19 cases in the district for the week, up from 22 during the holiday break from Dec. 20 to Jan. 2.

To view the CDC’s latest Standard Operating Procedure go to: https://tinyurl.com/4c3dw9rm

Besides the high school, the district’s others are Rumford Elementary School and the Western Foothills Regional Program, both in Rumford; Meroby Elementary School and Mountain Valley Middle School, both in Mexico; Hartford-Sumner Elementary School in Sumner; and Buckfield Junior-Senior High School in Buckfield. The district also includes Roxbury and Hanover.

In other business, the superintendent accepted a letter from George Reuter, principal of Buckfield Junior-Senior High School, announcing his retirement Sept. 7. He has been employed at the school for 27 years.


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