Medical professionals and school administrators say they’re pleased to see a decline in respiratory-related illnesses this month following several school outbreaks that forced closures in December.

Morse High School in Bath was one of many schools to close the second week of December after a high number of students and teachers called out sick with influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19. RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said illnesses reached an all-time high in the Bath-based school district when 25% of students were out sick.

As of this week, Manuel said student absences have dropped to 8%. He attributes the dramatic change to the holiday break.

“I think being out of school for a couple of weeks helped the situation,” he said.

Mt. Ararat Middle School and Harpswell Community School also closed in early December due to poor attendance caused by illness. The Topsham-based middle school reported 117 cases of respiratory illnesses — 20% of its student body — while the elementary school reported 50 cases — amounting to 40% of its students.

Efforts to reach SAD 75 administrators for an update Thursday were unsuccessful.


Schools should find some relief as they step into the new year, according to John Martins, MaineHealth’s communications director in Brunswick. Martins said not only is the number of cases dropping but the severity and need for hospitalization are as well.

Martins said over the past three weeks, COVID cases dropped by 50%, influenza by 88% and RSV is nearly nonexistent. Just last month, RSV was a huge concern after 137 children contracted the virus, sending 20 to Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland for extended care.

Martins provided a snapshot of testing results over the past three weeks at Mid Coast-Parkview Health facilities.

January results: 1/4/23 1/11/23 1/18/23
COVID 46 cases 55 cases 23 cases
Influenza 125 cases 41 cases 15 cases
RSV 1 case 1 case 1 case

Martins said he isn’t sure why the numbers are dropping, but he and his team are “thrilled.”

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