GORHAM — Staffing shortages connected with COVID-19 are plaguing administrators in the  Gorham and Bonny Eagle school districts, where the CDC has deemed the high schools and middle schools as outbreak schools.

Gorham High School reverted to remote learning two days last week with Superintendent Heather Perry citing a struggle to find enough substitutes. The school had six positive COVID-19 cases identified on the school web page Tuesday. Exposed students and staff must quarantine for 10 days.

“Substitute coverage is a problem in Gorham as it is in all schools in the state right now due to COVID-19,” Perry said.

Gorham used its Cares Relief Act funds to hire two full time subs per school for a total of 10 full time subs.

“We still run short on coverages and are at times having to ask our teachers to help cover other classrooms during their planning/prep periods,” Perry said.

Substitute nurses and bus drivers are also needed, Perry said.

At the Bonny Eagle School District, Assistant Superintendent Lori Napolitano said Monday the high school went to remote learning on Dec. 10 because of staffing concerns.  The Emery Jr. Memorial Elementary School in Limington was closed for several days because of staffing, she said.


Both districts reported Monday that all schools were open under their hybrid models.

Maine CDC has categorized the high and middle schools in Gorham and School Administrative District 6 as “outbreak schools.”

“The notification to the district about this status is prompted by having three or more cases of people, who are not living in the same household, over a 14-day period,” Bonny Eagle Superintendent Paul Penna wrote in a letter to staff and students. “We want to assure the community that all positive cases have been determined to be due to outside transmission factors and not transmitted through the schools.”

Gorham schools have had 22 positive cases and all originated outside of schools.

“We have had zero cases of transmission within any of our schools in Gorham,” Perry said.

When outbreak status is given, Perry said schools are assigned a case management team from the Maine CDC. The team reviews all of the cases that have happened to date within a school.


“This independent group pays particular attention to whether or not there are any connections between cases within the school or in the community,” Perry said. “They provide another set of expert eyes to help us monitor our data and ensure our schools remain the safe places they are even as cases may continue to increase in our community.”

Besides the six positive cases at Gorham High School on Dec. 15, the middle school had two; Narragansett Elementary School, three; and Great Falls Elementary School, one. There were no reported cases at Village Elementary.

In the Bonny Eagle district, two positive cases had impacted the high school as of Dec. 14 and another nine indirectly. Three cases have been reported at Bonny Eagle Middle School; two at Edna Libby Elementary in Standish; one at Emery Elementary; and none at Buxton Center Elementary, George E. Jack Elementary in Standish, Hollis Elementary and Steep Falls Elementary.

“Our team will work closely with the Maine CDC, and if there is any reason for additional services or action, I will inform the community,” Penna said in his letter.

Gorham has two avenues of identifying positive cases. Every morning Gorham asks staff and families to complete a “symptoms checker” and school nurses and aides follow up with individuals. Testing is encouraged and school officials maintain contact if a positive case is identified.

Perry said families get tested for various reasons and “they report the results of a positive case to us directly.”

Comments are not available on this story.