Siblings Lyndsee Reed, a sophomore, and Eli Reed, a senior, walk in to Hermon High School together in September 2020. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The Hermon School Department said Thursday that grades 5-12 will be fully remote starting on Monday, Sept. 13 and continuing until at least Sept. 20 due to high coronavirus case numbers as the new school year gets underway.

There will be no school on Friday.

Hermon Middle School has seen 13 cases, and Hermon High School has seen 21 cases over the past two days, Superintendent Jim Chasse wrote Thursday in a letter to parents. The town’s elementary school, the Patricia A. Duran School, which will remain open, has recorded two cases in that time.

The decision to shift to remote learning was based on state guidelines that would prompt a large number of students to quarantine.

“This was a decision that included input from our local administrators, nurses, school committee, and the MCDC,” Chasse wrote.

School officials plan to meet Thursday to determine if after-school outdoor activities will continue.

At least 95 percent of Hermon students who are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 have received at least one dose of the inoculation, according to state data, putting the school department in the top tier for Maine schools.

While Hermon is the first Bangor-area school department to shift to remote classes so far, a number of Penobscot County schools have seen a rise in COVID cases in recent weeks as students have returned to full-time, in-person classes.

Five COVID cases prompted 28 students at Orono’s Asa C. Adams Elementary School to quarantine earlier this week.

Twelve students at Hampden Academy have active COVID-19 cases, and another 27 are in quarantine, according to Regional School Unit 22, which serves Hampden, Winterport, Newburgh and Frankfort.

To date, two Hampden Academy staff have tested positive for COVID, but there are no current active cases or staff in quarantine.

RSU 22 Superintendent Regan Nickels said none of the cases were linked to in-classroom contact, and that the district’s universal masking policy has been an effective mitigation strategy. Hampden Academy will maintain its schedule of in-person classes despite the number of students in quarantine.

RSU 22 began a district-wide pool testing program on Tuesday.

Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.