WINTHROP — The Winthrop Public Schools have put forth a list of COVID-19 guidelines for the upcoming school year, the first district in the greater Augusta area to do so.

The move comes a week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention loosened its COVID-19 guidelines as approximately 95% of Americans have reached a certain level of immunity either from the vaccine, or from being infected by the virus.

Winthrop’s rules, adopted unanimously by the school committee Wednesday, adhere to the federal guidelines but include additional safety measures based on what administrators learned as they navigated the second year of the pandemic.

Under the new district rules, if a student or staff member tests positive for the virus, they must be out of school for a minimum of five days. If the individual has not had a fever for 24 hours — without the use of fever-reducing medicine — and other symptoms have improved, they can return to school on days 6-10 but must wear a mask. These two guidelines are “verbatim from the CDC,” said Superintendent Jim Hodgkin.

The district also outlined that there will be no remote learning options and if there is any question if a student should return to school, the administration, not nurses, will make the decisions on who stays home and who comes in. Daily masking “is an individual choice and will be accepted by all,” the local guidelines state.

These rules were the ones “we added as an administrative team after what we learned last year,” Hodgkin said to the school committee. “On some level, we are protecting the nurses, and we don’t want them to come under fire for their decisions.”


Some school nurses reported last year that they came under scrutiny from parents and community members in response to their handling of the school guidelines.

Though Winthrop’s school committee agreed not to offer a remote option for students, members said if a student is out sick they will still receive the materials they need.

The committee agreed to revisit the guidelines quarterly, or as needed, but will not visit them on a bi-weekly basis like they did last year.

The CDC guidelines that were updated last week include that schools no longer have to require routine testing, masks are only recommended in high-risk areas, schools no longer have to divide students into cohorts to track the virus and those who come into close contact with the virus no longer have to quarantine.

It is still recommended people stay up-to-date on their vaccines.

The Winthrop Public Schools include Winthrop Grade School, Winthrop Middle School and Winthrop High School.

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