Topsham-based Maine School Administrative District 75 Superintendent Robert Lucy announced Tuesday he will recommend the district adopt an optional mask policy beginning March 11 as long as cases don’t spike before then.

“I am hopeful that the positive case count in our district will continue to drop over the next two-week period following February break and that we won’t see a significant increase in the positive case count,” Lucy wrote. “We will continue to carefully monitor our positive case count throughout the district in the upcoming days, and I will finalize my recommendations on masking protocols at the school board meeting on March 10, 2022.”

Lucy’s announcement came the evening after a group of about 40 Mt. Ararat High School students walked into school on Tuesday and refused to wear a mask until MSAD 75 agreed to have the school board reevaluate the mandate in its March 10 meeting.

According to Mt. Ararat senior Ryan Robertson, the students spoke with Lucy over the phone in the morning, and he allegedly agreed to recommend to the board that the mask mandate end in the March 10 meeting, as long as cases didn’t spike before then.

Robertson said the students asked for Lucy’s promise in writing. As of noon Tuesday, the students were still waiting for Lucy’s statement and were prepared to sit maskless in the school until dismissal shortly after 2 p.m. if necessary.

“As a student, I feel left out,” said Mt. Ararat junior Jacob Haskell. “With cases decreasing, we want to get back to our normal lives just like we have in other public spaces like restaurants and stores, but we’re still stuck at school wearing masks.”


In SAD 75, which serves Topsham, Harpswell, Bowdoin and Bowdoinham, new COVID-19 cases decreased from 130 during the week of Jan. 10 to 15 new cases during the week of Feb. 12, according to the district website.

While the students sat in school demanding change, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Tuesday during the Maine Public radio show “Maine Calling” that Maine CDC is still recommending masking in schools.

“However, things are improving,” said Shah. “We’re seeing reductions in the number of students who are testing positive, reductions in the number of outbreaks that are happening in schools, reductions all across the board.”

Shah said while these drop in cases is encouraging, the Maine CDC is watching to see if that trend continues following school vacation last week. The Maine CDC doesn’t want to signal it’s safe to step away from mandatory masking too quickly and cause another spike in cases, he said.

“I understand there’s a lot of enthusiasm around moving away from this,” said Shah. “I want to make sure we’re moving away at the right pace to be protective and make sure we don’t cause a situation that gets worse.”

Though masks continue to be recommended by Maine health officials, Robertson said students are frustrated by nearby schools, which have similar COVID-19 case rates, agreeing to drop their mandates this month.


“The students here are sick of the silence,” said Robertson. “Mr. Lucy hasn’t publicly said anything about the mask mandate ending. Surrounding schools like Lisbon, Lewiston, Morse have set a date for when their mask mandate is going to end. Here at MTA, our students have heard absolutely nothing. We’re infuriated and we’re ready for this to end and today, we’re standing up for it.”

Robertson also questioned the efficacy of masks when students aren’t being required to wear them everywhere.

“We’re required to wear a mask at school, but once we’re out of school, everyone takes them off and we can do whatever we want,” said Robertson. “People go to football games and concerts maskless.”

Aside from being disheartened by the silence and inconsistency, Haskell said face masks have become a hot button issue among students experiencing pandemic fatigue.

“What I’m seeing is all the masks are causing is hate and division,” said Haskell. “The majority of students wear them incorrectly, we take them off for lunch, and we have to go outside in freezing weather to take them off. I don’t see how it’s helping at this point when other schools are removing the mandate.”

Mt. Ararat High School Principal Chris Hoffman declined to comment Tuesday.


Lucy did not return requests for comment Tuesday.

While school districts across the state, including neighboring RSU 1 and Brunswick, are taking steps to relax their mask requirements, SAD 75 students weren’t alone in their frustrations. Some parents and students showed up to Regional School Unit 5 schools on Monday to express concern about the indoor mask mandate, according to the district’s Superintendent Becky Foley.

Foley estimated that the group arrived at around 8 a.m. outside of the Durham Community School and then moved to Freeport High School around 9 a.m. Foley described the demonstration as peaceful and said the group ultimately dispersed on their own.

An officer from the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office was present at the Durham Community School at the request of Regional School Unit 5. The district became aware of the protest before it happened due to social media activity and a school resource officer was also present at the high school.

“As superintendent, I really do understand that this is a very frustrating time for many regarding whether we should remain masked or not,” Foley said. “Tensions around this issue are running high, and we really – the school department and the board – we continue to look closely to the CDC for their guidance on when we can safely move to mask optional.”

Regional School Unit 5 serves the towns of Freeport, Pownal and Durham. For the current school year, the indoor mask mandate was unanimously enacted by the board on Aug. 25, 2021, in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Foley said that there will be an agenda item on next week’s board meeting regarding the mask mandate. “We’re hoping by then that we have further guidance by the Maine CDC,” Foley added.

Within Sagadahoc County, 4,830 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began and 28 have died as of Tuesday, according to the Maine CDC.

Statewide, 227,332 Mainers have tested positive and 2,065 have died since March 2020, according to the Maine CDC.

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