All students, faculty and staff must wear face masks for the upcoming school year at Regional School Unit 5 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The mandate only applies indoors and was approved unanimously by the RSU 5 board Wednesday as part of a broader reopening plan. Masking is required regardless of vaccination status.

“Children under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated. The delta variant can still infect those who are vaccinated,” Superintendent Becky Foley said. “It is also more contagious and community transmission has unfortunately increased in our state and around the country. We want to do our part to slow the community spread.”

RSU 5, which serves Freeport, Pownal and Durham, is scheduled to return to five-days-a-week, in-person learning on Aug. 30. Three feet of social distancing will be followed when possible.

When the COVID-19 pandemic arose, students at RSU 5 studied either through remote or hybrid learning options. Between April 5 and the end of the last school year, students finished with a five-days-a-week, in-person learning.

According to Foley, an RSU 5 staff survey showed that 97.2% of respondents were vaccinated. As of Wednesday, 321 out of approximately 433 total staff members had responded.


Maine Department of Education data indicates that 90-94% of eligible RSU 5 students are vaccinated. In total, 67 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the district.

The district plans to revisit masking rules around Oct. 11.

Pooled testing — a method of COVID-19 testing where individuals combine samples to try and detect the virus — will also be offered for students at Durham Community School, Pownal Elementary School, Mast Landing School and Morse Street School.

Maine CDC guidelines align with the federal recommendation that all students, staff, teachers and visitors wear a mask while indoors in schools.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates the transmission risk in Cumberland and Androscoggin County as “substantial,” which corresponds with a recommendation that everyone, regardless of vaccination, wear a mask in indoor, public settings.

Other neighboring school districts that have approved indoor mask mandates include Bath, Brunswick and Topsham.

Maine towns that have decided not to require masks include Madison and Lewiston, however the Sun Journal reported on Wednesday that the Lewiston superintendent is now recommending in a reversal that a mask mandate be approved.

According to the Maine CDC, just over 70% of Maine residents had received a final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday. The CDC estimates that 99% of eligible Freeport residents, 97% eligible Pownal residents and 94% of Durham residents are fully vaccinated.

As of Thursday, 74,699 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in total statewide, alongside 926 deaths.

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