GARDINER — Classes are canceled Monday for students at the Gardiner Regional Middle School, and school district officials are expected to assess their ability to provide in-person instruction there Monday.

On Sunday, Patricia Hopkins, superintendent of the Gardiner-area school district, sent out a letter to district staff, students and families, notifying them of the middle school’s closure.

“Due to the shortage of staff, numerous positive COVID-19 cases of both students and staff, and a quarter of the student body being identified as close contacts and placed in quarantine at the Gardiner Regional Middle School,” Hopkins wrote, “there will be no school for middle school students tomorrow, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.”

Hopkins said in the letter that district officials will assess Maine School Administrative District 11’s ability to continue providing in-person instruction, or whether education will be delivered remotely.

“A number of others are currently being tested,” she wrote, “and results are pending. We anticipate the results will increase our numbers even more. Families will receive additional communication as soon as decisions are made.”

This move in Gardiner comes less than a week after school district officials in Winthrop called an emergency meeting to consider options amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the district.


On Tuesday, the Winthrop School Committee opted to extend the Thanksgiving break next week by changing Nov. 22-23 to no-school days; those days will be made up at the end of the school year.

On Wednesday, Kennebec County had its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 since the global coronavirus pandemic was declared in March 2020.

In her letter, Hopkins noted that the district is experiencing an uptick in the number of students and staff testing positive for the viral disease.

“On numerous occasions, students have come to school when they are sick,” she wrote. “Respectfully, if your child displays (symptoms of COVID-19), please keep them home from school and call your health care provider to discuss testing options.”

Hopkins said she recognized her decision will be met with anger, frustration and relief.

“My top priority is to keep our buildings open and to keep our students in school,” she wrote. “But to accomplish this, we must have enough staff to provide instruction and to supervise students at all times. I understand this unexpected closing puts stress on families, for which I regret. I assure you that the middle school staff, administration and I will do our best to return students to in-person learning as soon as staffing coverage is available and the number of COVID-19 positive cases stabilize.”

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