NORWAY — Four days after welcoming families of Guy E. Rowe Elementary School students for breakfast, the school has had to close the building to in-person learning.
Administrators announced Tuesday that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled the school in outbreak status and recommended closure. Parents were notified that the school would go to remote learning for the rest of this week, with plans to reopen on May 16.
The school also posted on its Facebook page Tuesday afternoon: “Rowe Elementary will be closed tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, May 11-13. Teachers are giving remote learning. Rowe Elementary School has been designated an outbreak school by the Maine CDC. An email was sent to families with more information. School in person reopens May 16.”
School Administrative District 17 Interim Superintendent Heather Manchester told the Advertiser Democrat that lack of staffing was the biggest issue in the decision to go remote.
“We are seeing an increase of cases in schools,” she said. “It’s important to remember that we are not out the woods just yet. We want to keep our staff and students as safe as possible, and so we are following the CDC’s recommendation to close Rowe for this week.
Oxford Hills schools never saw the post-spring vacation spike that public health officials warned about as students returned to class on April 25.
But last Friday Rowe held a family breakfast, Donuts for Adults, and a book fair for students.
On Monday morning, the district’s central office reported on its online daily COVID tracker that Rowe’s 22 cases accounted for 30% of illnesses districtwide. By that afternoon there were 30 cases at Rowe and 53 at other schools.
As of Tuesday afternoon, as the outbreak announcement was made, no additional cases were reported at Rowe while illnesses at other Oxford Hills schools went up to 64 cases. Of those, 27 were at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris.
Manchester said nursing staff is monitoring the high school closely but that the building size and ability to spread out through the space is in its favor.