Three-quarters of Maine teachers and school staff were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of the end of August but rates vary widely by school, reflecting familiar geographic disparities as the school year kicks off.
The initial data on vaccination rates, released by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday, comes as more than a dozen schools have already seen COVID-19 outbreaks in the first few weeks of the semester, forcing students to quarantine due to possible exposure. The cases in schools reflect a broader surge in the virus across Maine as infections have soared in the past few months due to the highly contagious delta variant.
More than 30 schools across the state have perfect staff vaccination rates, with 100 percent of employees fully vaccinated as of the end of August, the data show. The group includes both public and private schools, including some smaller schools — such as Cliff Island School — that have few employees, as well as some larger schools, such as Longfellow Elementary School in Portland and Cape Elizabeth Middle School.
School staff vaccination rates are highest in Cumberland County, where 88.9 percent of total staff are fully vaccinated, according to state data. They are lowest in Waldo County, which came in at 60.7 percent, followed by Piscataquis County at 62.5 percent.
Nearly two dozen schools have seen less than 40 percent of teachers and staff members get the vaccine. That group includes Mt. View High School in Thorndike, which was among the first Maine schools to see a COVID-19 outbreak this fall.
Data on staff vaccination rates is collected by schools or districts and reported to the state. Staff who did not report vaccination status are counted as unvaccinated. Some administrative units only reported vaccination rates at the district, not the school level.
A slightly lower percentage, about 69 percent, of central operations staff — defined as employees serving multiple schools, such as district administrators or bus drivers — were fully vaccinated, the data show.