In this October 2020 file photo, RSU 34 Superintendent David Walker helps a remote learning student at the Old Town-Orono YMCA. Credit: Courtesy of Old Town-Orono YMCA

OLD TOWN, Maine — Students and staff in Old Town, Alton and Bradley will be required to wear masks while in school facilities for at least six weeks, according to the reopening plan the RSU 34 school board approved Wednesday night. 

The move by the board marks the latest district in the Old Town area to institute a universal mask mandate in school buildings as COVID-19 cases once again surge in Maine. 

Last week, Orono’s RSU 26 joined the growing list of districts opting to mask up as did Veazie — which has one school. Milford, which also has one school but is its own district, will require students and staff alike to wear masks. 

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Across the Bangor area, districts including Hermon and Hampden have reversed previous decisions that did not mandate masks inside schools as cases continue to rise. 

Another 390 coronavirus cases of COVID-19 were reported across the state, Maine health officials said Thursday, and Penobscot County remains within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control mask-wearing threshold with 189.95 cases per 100,000 as of Wednesday. 

RSU 34 will review the decision after the first six weeks of school and then every month adjusting the requirement based on levels of community vaccination, student vaccination, community transmission, pooled testing participation and other relevant data, the district’s reopening plan said. 

Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...