All counties in Maine can continue to consider in-person instruction for schools, following an update Friday to the state’s color-coded advisory system for opening schools.

Each of the state’s 16 counties remain in the “green” designation, meaning the risk of COVID-19 spread is relatively low and schools can consider in-person instruction as long as they’re able to implement required safety precautions.

The state is updating the system every two weeks and will continue to do so through the fall. Many school districts are still in the process of deciding what model of instruction they’ll follow, with many considering hybrid or “yellow” options in order to facilitate social distancing requirements.

The Health Advisory System is a collaboration among the Maine Department of Education, Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The classifications were developed to categorize counties based on quantitative and qualitative data about COVID-19 including, but not limited to, recent data on case rates, positivity rates and syndromic data.

The system classifies counties as either red, yellow or green, with red designating a high level of risk and a recommendation for remote learning, and yellow designating moderate risk and hybrid instruction. Final decisions on reopening have been left to local leaders.

All schools regardless of their county’s color designation must follow safety precautions in six categories: symptom screening before school, physical distancing, masks and face coverings, hand hygiene, personal protective equipment and the return to school after illness.

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