February 27, 2022

Dear Staff, Students, and Families,

I am writing to address the revised recommendations the U.S. Center for Disease Control announced Friday, representing a shift in strategy from reducing the transmission of illness to a focus on reducing medically significant illness and minimizing strain on the healthcare system. As this reflects the U.S. CDC’s  current understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection, immunity from vaccination and infection, and the tools we have available. Vaccines are highly protective against severe disease and continuing to expand vaccine coverage and ensuring people are up to date with vaccination is essential to protecting individuals against hospitalizations and deaths.

The recommendations no longer rely only on the number of cases in a community to determine the need for restrictions such as mask wearing. The U.S. CDC’s  COVID-19 Community Levels  (nationwide by state counties) measures are now derived from a combination of three metrics—new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days — to determine the COVID-19 community level. New COVID-19 admissions and the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied represent the current potential for strain on the health system. Data on new cases acts as an early warning indicator of potential increases in health system strain in the event of a COVID-19 surge. Using these data, the COVID-19 community level is classified as low, medium, or high. As of Friday, February 25, 2022, thirteen of Maine’s sixteen counties are at a HIGH level, and Kennebec, Somerset and Waldo are at MEDIUM.  This metric is based on a 7-day data cycle and will update weekly.

We find this news very encouraging and fully anticipate that our state’s health authority will soon announce a similar shift in approach.  On Friday, Governor Mills directed the Maine CDC to review the new federal guidance in order to inform Maine’s recommendations.  We fully expect the Maine Department of Education and the Maine CDC to adjust recommendations accordingly, with a transition to masks optional in our schools.   

 These last few years have been a challenge for students, their families, and our staff—we understand that many are weary of all that this illness has caused and very much look forward to more normalcy. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to keep the people in our schools as safe as possible.

 Roberta Hersom

Superintendent of Schools