PARIS — After the number of positive COVID cases in Oxford Hills schools approached 200 last week, as of Monday the number stood at 134. School Administrative District 17’s online tracker does not currently break-out results of home tests.

The revised quarantine guidance from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Maine Department of Education from 10 days to five, along with the definition of close contacts has had a big impact on people being held out of school.

In mid-December, quarantines for students and staff was reported to be 279. On Jan. 4, the first day schools opened after the Christmas break, 89 students were in quarantine. By Monday, 11 students were in quarantine.

SAD 17 has not reported on staff having to quarantine since last year. But so many adults at Otisfield Community School were in isolation that classes had to be held remotely from Jan. 19 – Jan. 21. The district’s head Nurse Beth Gallagher told the Advertiser Democrat on Monday that staff absences continue to be a major concern as the omicron variant has become the dominant strain of the virus surging through Maine.

Gallagher also said that Oxford Hills is accepting positive home tests for absences but is no longer reporting those numbers to the Maine CDC.

“COVID-19 outbreak criteria will now depend on facility type. In pre-K-12 schools, an outbreak of OVID-19 will now be defined as greater than or equal to 15% absenteeism among students or staff in a single day, where the majority of those absent are due to COVID-19 illness,” Gallagher wrote in an email statement.


“For all other facility types, including but not limited to long-term care, hospital, outpatient healthcare, higher education, and businesses, an outbreak of COVID-19 is now defined as five or more people who have been in-person at a facility with confirmed or probable COVID-19 within a 14-day period.”

The number of students and staff taking part in pooled testing has risen to 1,048. Since the process began, 74 pools have returned positive and 62 positive individual cases have been diagnosed from them.

Oxford Hills’ nursing department continues to work with District Medical Director Dr. Kate Herlihy to monitor positive cases and positivity rates, among other indicators, to determine whether to keep schools open to in person learning.


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