A family walks toward the entrance to the Mount View school complex in Thorndike that houses Mount View Elementary, Mount View Middle and Mount View High Schools. A committee for Regional School Unit 3 voted to postpone indefinitely a return to in-person learning. Morning Sentinel file photo

Regional School Unit 3 announced Tuesday that its return-to-school committee voted unanimously to indefinitely postpone a return to four-days per week in-person learning due to the state’s increased coronavirus caseload, and Maine School Administrative District 49 and Waterville Public Schools have identified new cases of COVID-19, according to the districts’ superintendents.

In a letter to the community released Tuesday afternoon, RSU 3 Superintendent Charles Brown wrote the committee, which is comprised of staff from across the district and school departments including teachers, facilities, transportation, school nutrition, health office, school counseling, secretarial, business office, and administration met Monday to discuss and vote.

“Unfortunately, since our last communication, we have seen an increase in positive cases of COVID-19 amongst our school community and throughout the state,” Brown wrote. “That raises concerns for the safety of all of our students and staff.”

Brown sent out a communication Dec. 23 regarding his intention to reconvene the back-to-school committee following the school’s winter break. The district previously voted to delay increased in-person learning in October when Waldo County was designated as yellow in the Maine Department of Education’s color-coded Health Advisory System. Waldo has since been moved into the green category, but the district is opting to remain in its hybrid learning approach.

The increased in-person learning was intended for students in grades K-5. Now, all students across the eight schools in the district will continue in the current Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday cohorts. RSU 3 has eight schools with students from the towns of Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo.

Brown wrote in the Tuesday’s letter that there have been no cases of COVID-19 contracted or transmitted within RSU 3 schools. To date, there have been seven positive cases associated with individuals in the district.

“With that said, we cannot guarantee that the virus will not be contracted within our buildings, but we can and will continue to do our best to mitigate the spread,” Brown wrote. “We understand the concerns on both sides of this decision and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. ”

MSAD 49

Superintendent Roberta Hersom said Monday two positives cases had been identified at Lawrence High School in Fairfield and one case had been identified at Clinton Elementary School in Clinton.

This announcement comes three days after the district initially identified a case at Lawrence High School that involved four staff members and 16 students at the high school and a staff member at Clinton Elementary School.

The newest cases now involve four staff members and 26 students at the high school, Hersom said.

Due to the holiday break, Hersom said the case had minimal impact on the schools.

Students resumed hybrid-learning Monday.

This brings the district’s total case count to 16 since the beginning of the school year.

MSAD 49 serves students from Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield.

WATERVILLE SCHOOLS

Superintendent Eric Haley announced Saturday that an individual associated with Waterville Senior High School tested positive for COVID-19.

Haley said the school’s nurse, Jean Cote, was working with the Center for Disease Control after learning about the positive case.

“Waterville School Nurse Jean Cote has been in contact with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the individual who tested positive,” Haley wrote in a letter posted to the district’s website. “We are following the recommendations of the CDC Guidelines by contacting the individuals who had close contact to the person who tested positive.”

Haley didn’t disclose the number of close contacts identified, but said that those who are considered close contacts have been notified.

“The individuals who are considered close contacts are currently being notified by school nursing personnel and school administration and will be required to quarantine until January 13th, 2021. They may return to school on January 14th, 2021,” Haley wrote.

This is the fifth case of COVID-19 the district has identified since September.

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