Throughout the pandemic in Maine, mask mandates have been dropped and put into place to curb different surges of the virus. Throughout statewide changes in masking, they have continued to remain required in schools. This changed last week when the Mills administration announced that universal indoor masking is no longer required inside schools and child care centers.
Starting Wednesday March 9, the Maine CDC recommends masks in schools should be optional. The Maine CDC emphasizes that this change is dependent on the Covid-19 trends in Maine. Covid-19 hospitalizations in the state have been on a downward trend for the past couple weeks. This past Thursday, the U.S. CDC classified all of Maine’s 16 counties as being at medium risk for infection from Covid-19 for the first time in weeks.
Back in March 2020 every student in Maine had to adapt to online learning. When schools finally welcomed students to return in person, many different approaches were taken. Hybrid online and in-person classes, frequent sampled testing, alerting close contacts of exposures, and more. Masks have remained required all this time to help in preventing school closures, and now the decision will be left to individual school districts.
Schools in York and Lewiston dropped the masking requirement on Monday. The Portland school district plans to continue requiring masks. Tess Nacelewicz, communication coordinator for Portland Public Schools, told the Press Herald that masks will stay on until cases stabilize and stay low, and the weather gets warmer and more learning can happen outside.
The University of Maine System plans to continue requiring masks until at least the end of spring break on March 20. The Maine Community College system is taking the new guidance into consideration but has not made any decisions.
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