Bangor High School shut down for in-person learning on Tuesday for the second time this month after a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a student or staff member.
Students will return to school on Dec. 7 and learn remotely until then, according to Kathy Harris-Smedberg, the school department’s interim superintendent. The school department decided to switch to remote learning for the entire school, rather than ask just a portion of students and staff to quarantine, because 14 staff members had been exposed to the person who tested positive, she said.
“We are actually staying out a full two weeks just because coverage would be challenging,” Harris-Smedberg said. “It just is a wider swath than we would have liked.”
The Mary Snow School building is also closed this week due to a positive COVID-19 case, though no classes are scheduled this week. Parent-teacher conferences are being held remotely.
When classes resume at the school next week, three or four students will have to continue quarantining, Harris-Smedberg said. Because the person who tested positive wasn’t somebody who had been in a classroom, the situation was easier to handle than at Bangor High, she said.
Bangor High School first shut down on Nov. 7 and resumed in-person instruction a week later following the school’s first coronavirus case of the school year.
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Active cases across the University of Maine System have increased tenfold in a month.
Bangor is one of the few school districts in the state that offers in-person schooling five days a week. The school district had no positive cases before November, when the virus started surging across the state. Over the past 30 days, Maine schools have recorded 259 cases among students and staff, and a number of schools have seen outbreaks — in which three or more cases are connected.
Despite the cases in students and employees, the virus hasn’t been spreading rampantly within schools because of a range of safety precautions that have been in effect, including mask-wearing requirements, spaced-out classroom arrangements, smaller class sizes and other arrangements that limit interaction among different groups of students and teachers.
Harris-Smedberg did not immediately respond to requests for comment.