LISBON — While Lisbon schools opened to full-time in-person learning in September, that could change if cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Androscoggin County.

Superintendent Richard Green told the school committee Monday that, “looking around and seeing the other communities in Androscoggin County, it’s more than likely that at some point we’re going to be on the monitor status or switched to yellow,” at which point the school committee must decide its next steps.

Green said in August that a small school system like Lisbon doesn’t have the resources to offer full-time instruction in the classroom five days a week, while teaching other students remotely five days a week.

The Maine Center for Disease Control reported 174 new cases and four more deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday. Cumberland County has 35 cases, followed by Kennebec, York and Androscoggin with 22 cases each. Androscoggin County is seeing moderate community transmission, defined as a new case rate greater than or equal to 8 but less than 16 per 10,000 people.

There have been 1,028 cases of COVID-19 in Androscoggin County, including 11 deaths and 63 hospitalizations, according to the Maine CDC. As of Nov. 1, there had been 19 cases in Lisbon and 23 in Lisbon Falls, according to CDC data.

The technology required for remote learning posed a challenge until recently. Lisbon School Department just received more than 400 computers purchased with about $200,000 in federal coronavirus relief money. Green said this will allow the district to provide students in Grades 3-12 with computers in the event the district needs to switch to remote learning.

“We actually have the technology available to allow us to do hybrid or remote,” Green said, “and we spent the first four weeks of school really trying to educate kids and staff on what that would look like so we feel like we’re in good shape. We feel like we could switch over now if needed easier than we could have in September.”

Green said the district’s reopening plan includes plans for switching to a hybrid model as well as remote-only learning if the threat of COVID-19 transmission increases. The Maine Department of Education designates school systems as “green,”  “yellow” or “orange” based on the risk of the disease spreading within school systems.

If cases increase so that Androscoggin County is designated “yellow” the state education department recommends schools consider a hybrid instructional model to reduce the number of people in schools and classrooms at a time.

If that happens, Green said the Lisbon School Committee will have to look at the cases in the Lisbon community and the risks of community transmission of COVID-19 there, and decide what to do.

“Our goal would always be to be full in-person, so even if we have to shift, plans would be to shift back,” Green said.

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