FARMINGTON — Superintendent Chris Elkington announced Thursday he plans to recommend the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors make masking optional for the district.

Elkington said he based his decision on updated guidance from the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the state Department of Education. Both are recommending schools no longer require masking for most students and employees.

Elkington wrote in a statement that the district has followed recommendations from the state CDC and DOE throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and “it would be disingenuous of us/me to have followed their recommendations for two years and then to not follow their recommendations now.”

“I can tell you that at this time our local school and (Franklin Memorial Hospital) data looks excellent,” Elkington wrote.

He said he is working with district nurses and looking at hospital data to “to look at what we may need to adjust.”

“It is now important that we adjust more of our focus on the Social Emotional needs and personnel touch our students thrive on and to demonstrate to them the PROGRESS we have made, they have helped to make and the HOPE that it demonstrates for our future!” Elkington wrote.


Since the change in the state CDC’s and DOE’s recommendations, many school districts, including Lewiston Public Schools and the Auburn School Department, have dropped their mask mandates.

The Maine CDC has warned, however, the recommendation for schools could change if pandemic conditions worsen, according to reports.

“This change is dependent on continued stability in COVID-19 trends in Maine, including reduced hospitalizations, reduced virus levels in wastewater, and reduced school outbreaks and absenteeism, among other quantitative and qualitative factors,” the Mills administration said in a statement.

The RSU 9 board of directors is expected to review the district’s COVID-19 policies and local data at its next meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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