Maine school districts handle omicron surge, relaxed contact tracing advice

There has been a 30% increase over the past week in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Maine schools. At least eight schools are in an outbreak state, according to the state. The recent outbreak fueled by the omicron variant is forcing more schools to close and go remote again. Brunswick High School switched to remote learning this week due to a spike in cases. Brunswick School Nurse and Maine School Nurses Association President Melinda Nadeau said new state guidelines announced this week eliminate the burden of contact tracing for districts with mandates to masking “Children who test positive are isolated, so we no longer need to contact families, because at this point we consider everyone a close contact,” Nadeau said. Nadeau said there have been 39 positive cases this week at Harriet Beecher Stowe. the primary school where she works. “I take it one day at a time,” Nadeau said. “It’s the worst we’ve seen since the start.” All schools in York also switched to remote learning this week because too many teachers and pupils were sick. About 80% of students in the district are enrolled in group testing. “The most important thing we can do right now is the mask. I know it’s been somewhat controversial in our society, but we think it’s very effective,” Goscinski said. “So masking and pool testing seems to be what works best for us.” Brunswick High School will reopen on Tuesday, like all schools in York. Superintendents in both districts said they expect to have staff in place to operate safely in person.

There was a 30% increase last week in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Maine schools.

At least eight schools are in an outbreak state, according to the state.

The recent surge fueled by the omicron variant is forcing more schools to close and move away again.

Brunswick High School switched to remote learning this week due to a spike in cases.

Melinda Nadeau, a Brunswick school nurse and president of the Maine School Nurses Association, said new state guidelines announced this week remove the burden of contact tracing for districts with masking mandates.

“Children who test positive are isolated, so we no longer have to contact families, because at this point we consider everyone a close contact,” Nadeau said.

Nadeau said there have been 39 positive cases this week at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School where she works.

“I take it one day at a time,” Nadeau said. “It’s the worst we’ve seen since the start.”

All schools in York also switched to remote learning this week because too many teachers and pupils were sick.

“We couldn’t keep up with the omicron variant,” York Public School Superintendent Lou Goscinski said.

Goscinski said morale in his district was low. About 80% of students in the district are enrolled in group testing.

“The most important thing we can do right now is the mask. I know it’s been somewhat controversial in our society, but we think it’s very effective,” Goscinski said. “So masking and pool testing seems to be what works best for us.”

Brunswick High School will reopen on Tuesday, as will all schools in York.

Superintendents in both districts said they expect to have the staff in place to operate safely in person.