READFIELD — Three schools in Regional School Unit 38 have switched to remote learning for the rest of the week due to increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases at school buildings and the resulting staff shortages.

Officials announced Monday that Manchester Elementary School and Maranacook Community Middle School would be remote Tuesday and Wednesday. By noon on Wednesday, however, officials had decided the schools would remain under remote learning for the rest of the week. The tentative return date is Monday, Jan. 24.

When Superintendent Jay Charette shared the news Monday about Manchester Elementary School and the middle school, he reported that during the previous week of school, between Jan. 10 and 17, the district reported 66 COVID-19 cases involving students and eight affecting staff members.

Of those, 19 were at Maranacook Community High School, 22 at the middle school and 24 at Wayne Elementary School, Mount Vernon Elementary School, Manchester Elementary School or in Readfield.

“At this time, I strongly recommend that everyone acts as if they have been exposed,” Charette wrote.

On Tuesday, officials at Readfield Elementary School switched to remote learning until Friday, after Superintendent Charette announced the school had reported 18 COVID-19 cases.

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“This is putting an incredible strain on our abilities to keep schools open and adequately staffed, and has pushed us to have to go remote due to staff shortages,” Charette wrote of Readfield Elementary School.

All told, RSU 38, which enrolls students from Manchester, Mount Vernon, Readfield and Wayne, has reported 230 COVID-19 cases involving students and 54 affecting staff members.

Charette said officials will evaluate the district’s schools on a daily basis, and told families it is recommended students test negative for COVID-19 before returning to school at the end of the newly updated, five-day isolation period.

Students who need help obtaining coronavirus tests can contact the school nurses.

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