Gov. Janet Mills welcomes a bus of young RSU 1 students to the vaccine clinic at Morse High School on Friday, Nov. 19. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

 

Roughly 110 Bath-area students ages 5-11 got vaccinated during the clinic at Morse High School in Bath, making it the most well-attended COVID-19 vaccine clinics in a school, according Regional School Unit 1 Assistant Superintendent Katie Joseph.

Gov. Janet Mills commended the Bath-area students for their bravery and resilience during a visit to the vaccine clinic on Friday.

“They’re doing their job; they’re keeping safe and their families safe,” Mills said during a visit to the clinic Friday. “The message I gave to them if there was any anxiety was the one Christopher Robin gave Winnie the Pooh: ‘Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.’ Those kids are strong, smart and brave.”

Gov. Janet Mills speaks with RSU 1 students while they wait to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at Morse High School in Bath. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

RSU 1 hosts students from Bath, Phippsburg, Arrowsic and Woolwich.

Joseph said she was pleased to be able to offer another layer of protection against COVID-19 to students in a way that was accessible for families, as students were brought to the high school in school buses if families weren’t able to bring children individually.

“We’re always thinking about the layers of mitigation, whether it’s masking, washing hands or social distancing, and this just adds another layer of protection near a time where we know families want to be together,” said Joseph. “It makes it even more exciting knowing we’re able to do this when we have more cases than ever and hopefully it will protect even more of our community.”

Many parents who brought their children to be vaccinated Friday commented on the relief they feel knowing their child is vaccinated.

“We’re all happy to have it done,” said Faith Smith of Bath. “It’s not fun, but everyone should do it as a matter of public safety. We’ve taken all our other vaccines, so this is just one more. It’s the right thing to do, I feel, to do our part.”

Albert and Vivian Smith, both 8, agreed they were both nervous and excited to receive the vaccine, but found “the worrying hurt more than the shot.”

(left-right) Albert, Vivian, and Faith Smith of Bath stand outside the vaccine clinic at Morse High School in Bath. Albert and Vivian Smith, both 8, received their COVID-19 vaccinations on Friday, Nov. 19. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Beeton of Woolwich said she brought her 7-year-old son, Cole, to get vaccinated because “Our pediatrician recommended it and we don’t want him to get sick.”

The clinic came two days after the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention identified COVID-19 outbreaks in three RSU 1 schools: Morse High School/Bath Tech, Bath Middle School, and Fisher Mitchell School, according to a statement from the district.

The Maine CDC was also monitoring Woolwich Central School and Dike-Newell School for suspected COVID-19 outbreaks as of Friday.

The CDC classifies a school as having an outbreak when there have been three or more cases of COVID-19 that have been confirmed through PCR testing within two weeks. “Suspected outbreak status” means that there are three or more cases of COVID-19 that have been confirmed through rapid testing within a two-week period.

Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 19, 11 individuals in Bath Middle School had tested positive for COVID-19, the highest in the district. Woolwich Central School has seen 10 cases, Morse High School/Bath Tech has had eight cases, Dike Newell School has had five cases, Fisher Mitchell has had three cases, Phippsburg Elementary has had two cases, and according to RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel.

Despite the outbreak status on multiple schools, Manuel said mitigation efforts including mandatory masks, social distancing, pooled testing and vaccinations saved the schools from transitioning to remote learning.

“Most of the current cases we are seeing are not due to in-school transmission, but rather community transmission outside of our buildings,” said Manuel. “We were also encouraged to continue school to ensure students continue to receive the academic, social-emotional, and nutritional support that it provides.”

Mid Coast Hospital volunteer nurse Katie Huntington administers a COVID-19 to a Bath Middle School student. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

About 65% of Morse High School Students were vaccinated as of late October, making it the school with the highest vaccination rate in RSU 1, according to Manuel. Bath Tech had a 60% vaccination rate as of late October.

Bath Middle School and Woolwich Central School had 58% and 56% vaccination rates, respectively, in late October, said Manuel.

Maine’s seven-day new case stood at 666, a new record, as of Friday. The state already has set records this week for the highest cases reported on a single day, the highest average positive test rate and the most individuals hospitalized, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Maine’s seven-day case rate of 332 per 100,000 ranks 14th among all states and is significantly higher than the national rate of 187 cases per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vermont and New Hampshire are among the states that rank higher than Maine, the Portland Press Herald reported.

During the vaccine clinic, Mills said she is not considering reinstituting a mask mandate despite the rise in cases in Maine because “we have the vaccine.”

“It’s now in the hands of the people to get vaccinated to keep themselves and their families and communities safe,” said Mills. “We’re seeing higher case rates and hospitalizations in those counties with lower vaccination rates. It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together.”

Within Sagadahoc County, 2,313 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 14 have died as of Friday, according to the Maine CDC.

Sagadahoc County also held a 74% vaccination rate as of Friday, just about the state’s 72% vaccine rate, according to state data.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 115,009 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and 1,268 deaths as of Friday, according to the Maine CDC.

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