AUGUSTA – On July 31st, the Maine Department of Education released its county color designations, saying all 16 Maine counties have been classified as green, allowing for in-classroom instruction as long as schools follow safety protocols required by the state.
“These designations are intended to be guidance to help administrators get a sense epidemiologically of what’s going on in their neighborhood,” Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah said.
As previously reported, a green designation allows for in classroom learning, red designations calls for all remote learning and yellow suggests a hybrid model.
“The green designation is important, as all counties are green right now, but that designation is predicated on use of things like face coverings in schools. It assumes that children will be wearing face coverings, it assumes teachers will be practicing proper social distancing,” Shah said.
Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said that with the in person model, as long as students wear face coverings, the space for proper social distancing could be altered.
“You can have children 3 feet apart rather than 6 feet apart, but those children must stay 6 feet apart from adults because we imagine again in classrooms and these different settings, we think with other types of protections these children can be safe. So that is the minimum recommendation in this set of ground-lines,” Lambrew said.
The color assignments are to be updated every two weeks.
Ultimately, decisions about how students return to school are going to be made locally.
“You can open your schools if you meet those six requirements that are on the department of education website. If you have the sufficient space and capacity to do so, there may be school districts in counties that are green that may choose to delay or do hybrid learning,” Shah said.