The state has moved schools in Oxford County back to “green” territory, saying it’s safe for schools there to open full-time for in-person instruction.
The Maine Department of Education had moved Oxford County to “yellow” territory two weeks ago, citing rising cases in the western Maine county, which had been contending with an outbreak at the ND Paper mill in Rumford and a number of cases in schools.
A “yellow” designation means the state recommends a hybrid model of learning, in which students attend school in person for part of the week and learn at home on the remaining days.
But the Department of Education on Friday changed Oxford County’s designation back to green, while it kept York County’s designation yellow. The state cited a falling rate of new cases and the absence of any new outbreaks in Oxford County in the past two weeks.
Oxford County’s test positivity rate — the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive — has also fallen in the past two weeks, and its rate of new cases over the past two weeks — 3.28 cases for every 10,000 residents — is slightly lower than the statewide rate of 3.41 cases per 10,000 residents for that period.
York County remains the only county with a yellow designation, which it has had for the past month, as the southernmost county has seen a number of outbreaks and a spike in coronavirus cases traced to an Aug. 7 wedding in the Katahdin region. Sanford High School is still the site of a virus outbreak. While York County’s rate of new cases has fallen over the past two weeks, the state cited the county’s test positivity rate of 1.2 percent, which is the highest in the state, for its decision to keep the county’s school safety designation yellow.
The state said two weeks ago that it would reassess Androscoggin County’s green designation as that county saw new cases rise, but it has remained green throughout although the county has had the highest rate of new cases over the past two weeks, with 8.87 new cases per 10,000 people. York County’s new case rate was 6.5 cases per 10,000 residents in that time.
Although schools in 15 of 16 Maine counties have the green light to open schools for full-time, in-person instruction, most Maine schools have only brought students back for two or three days a week and are educating them remotely the rest.