PARIS — Once again the COVID-19 game has changed. This time it is school nursing departments facing a foe that promises to exhaust and overwhelm them as they fight to keep healthy students in school and ill students at home. SAD 17 it is no different.

On Jan. 4, the day students returned to school following Christmas vacation, SAD 17’s online COVID tracking showed that 30 students and staff were held out because of confirmed or home test positive cases.

Superintendent Dr. Monica Henson told the Advertiser Democrat on Jan. 7  that the nursing staff had not been able to report on current quarantine numbers because they were still catching up on incoming information about student and staff cases. Positive cases were continuing to be updated online. On Jan. 11 she could not confirm when the quarantine part of the report would be updated.

On Monday the same report showed a jump to 56 confirmed cases and another 21 from home tests. By that afternoon confirmed cases rose to 91, with two-thirds of them at the district’s larger schools, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School and Oxford Hills Middle School in Paris and Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway. With another 21 probable cases to make a total of 112, Jan. 10 marked an all-time high for COVID cases since the pandemic began in March of 2020.

Until Tuesday. By the end of the day on Jan. 11, SAD 17 was reporting a total of 142 cases of COVID-19 in its schools.

“We are seeing an increased number of adult cases among our staff,” Henson said in a statement late on Tuesday.

According to the Maine Center of Disease Control’s online COVID dashboard, Oxford county as a whole continues to trail only Androscoggin in positive cases. Androscoggin county’s population is 107,679 and Oxford’s is 57,618.

At the start of 2021, Mainers under the age of 20 made up 13.6% of COVID. By Jan. 1 of this year the state’s youngest population accounted for 24.5%.

“I am grateful that we have been able to make it through two weeks post-holiday break without having to close any schools,” Henson said.

Oxford County continues to report the second-highest case rate of COVID in Maine. COVID-19 Maine Data


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