The Delta variant of COVID-19 has increased its presence in Maine as it has throughout the country. Cases are multiplying greatly from week to week. Last Thursday, Dr. Shah shared information from the US CDC and the Maine CDC and the strong recommendation is for the use of masks while indoors. This strong recommendation is for individuals who are unvaccinated as well as those who have been vaccinated. Currently, there is a requirement for the use of masks for any travelers using public transportation, which includes school buses. This would mean drivers and any passengers.
As Dr. Shah noted in the presentation he provided on July 29, information is changing very quickly, and data is being updated constantly. More and more is being reported within the state and national news as to the ease of spread of the Delta variant, as well as the impact on those people who are not vaccinated, including our younger population. Incidents of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are increasing, mostly for those who are unvaccinated, and many of these are children.
There were many school board members who were able to attend the briefing by Dr. Shah, and many who could not get in due to a limit of 500 participants. A link to the briefing can be found here. A Q&A document has been prepared from the questions that were submitted during the webinar with Dr. Shah, and can be reviewed here.
MSBA is encouraging school units to host vaccination clinics where and when this is possible, and to also participate in the pool testing.
Data will be collected from school units regarding the percentage of teachers vaccinated by school unit. Additional data on the percentage of students who are vaccinated also will be collected. The intent for both data points will be to help the state assess the locations of the greatest area of need and target supports in these areas.
From the Maine Department of Education
You may have received the Return to School Roadmap from US Department of Education (USED) yesterday, in which the Department references outdated material from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC). Specifically, the Roadmap includes links and references to mask wearing being recommended only for those who are unvaccinated.
This is not consistent with the announcement and updated guidance provided by US CDC earlier last week, and US CDC has yet to update their website to fully reflect the changes in their July 27 recommendations. We alerted our federal colleagues at US CDC and USED last week and again yesterday when the Return to School Roadmap was released, and we have received assurances that updated and clarified information is forthcoming. As stated last week, it is strongly recommended that all people inside of a school wear a mask this fall, regardless of vaccination status.
Please know that we continue to work diligently to ensure you have the most updated and accurate information available.
Additional resources that may be helpful include: