RUMFORD — Citing the outbreak of COVID-19 at the ND paper mill in Rumford, the Regional School Unit 10 board of directors voted Tuesday to close four of its schools in Rumford and Mexico.

Students at Mountain Valley High School and Rumford Elementary School, both in Rumford, and Mountain Valley Middle School and Meroby Elementary School, both in Mexico, will work online for two weeks beginning Monday.

Director Travis Palmer of Rumford made the motion, which was approved by a weighted vote of 491-462 at the emergency meeting.

The board will reevaluate the situation at its next meeting Oct. 13.

Buckfield Junior-Senior High School and Hartford-Sumner Elementary School in Sumner were not included in the closures because those communities and schools have not had coronavirus cases.

Superintendent Deb Alden announced that a Meroby Elementary School student who tested presumptive positive for the virus was cleared Tuesday by the Center for Disease Control and out of quarantine, along with a teacher and classmates.


She said the CDC advised Tuesday that it was not a positive case. “We discovered that when they have a presumptive positive, they tell us it’s positive and they move on that,” she said.

The CDC also told Alden there was a positive COVID-19 case at Rumford Elementary School on Tuesday, resulting in several students and staff members being quarantined. Principal Jill Bartash said it was a confirmed case.

“The CDC defines an outbreak as three positive cases in a building … not people in the same family, within 14 days’ time, and that’s potentially when they would say to clear the building,” Alden said.

Alden and directors Jerry Wiley and Michelle Casey, both of Buckfield, said the district should abide by the CDC’s definition of an outbreak in order to close the buildings. Directors Abbey Rice and Travis Palmer, both of Rumford, thought the community outbreak would cause the coronavirus to spread to the schools.

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