COVID-19 surge prompts school mask mandate

BAR HARBOR — Due to an upsurge in COVID-19 cases in Hancock County and among students and staff at some of the schools in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System, masks must be worn by everyone in all the schools through at least this Friday. 

Superintendent Mike Zboray made that decision late last Friday, the same day the Maine CDC categorized the county’s transmission rate as “high.” 

We will reevaluate on Friday, May 13, once the county’s status is updated,” he said in an email to staff and parents. “It is my hope that this simple measure will help us keep our students and staff safe and schools open. 

“This step can help maintain in-person learning and prevent a school from having to go remote, as has been the recent experience of a school in our county.” 

The school he referred to is in Brooklin. 

The school system board voted 9-7 on March 7 to drop the mask mandate that was then in effect; instead, mask wearing would be optional. At the same time, the board authorized Zboray to reimpose the mask mandate if there was a significant surge in COVID cases.  

He told the board on Monday that the schools are experiencing what Dr. J.R. Krevans Jr. at Mount Desert Island Hospital calls a “micro-outbreak.” 

“If we can avoid going to remote learning by putting people in masks for five days or 10 days or whatever it is, then that’s what we should do,” Zboray said.  

“The harm of going remote is probably more than having to wear a mask for a little while. In-person learning is in the best interest of kids, and I will do what I can to make sure that happens.” 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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