A man walks through Monument Square in Portland. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

At least four Maine school districts reported COVID-19 cases among students or staff on Monday, and another district in York County has scaled back its in-person learning as a precaution against spreading the virus.

At RSU 57, which includes schools in Alfred, Lyman, Shapleigh and Waterboro, Superintendent Larry Malone sent a letter to the community Sunday reporting an outbreak at Massabesic Middle School after three cases were confirmed. The RSU 57 outbreak follows an outbreak at Sanford High School and Sanford Regional Technical Center earlier this month, where there have been 13 confirmed cases.

In Cumberland County, schools districts in Yarmouth and Freeport reported COVID-19 cases. And in Kennebec County, at RSU 38, Maranacook Middle School reported one positive COVID-19 case. At South Portland High School, a family member of an “individual associated with the high school” has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be required to quarantine, according to Superintendent Ken Kunin, but there are currently no known cases in South Portland schools.

RSU 57 is moving to online-only learning at Massabesic Middle School and Massabesic High School, but the other schools in the district will continue in-person learning.

“An outbreak means that there are three or more cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period that are epidemiologically linked. Based on recommendations from the Maine CDC, we are closing Massabesic Middle School to help prevent further spread of COVID-19. Massabesic Middle School was previously determined to be fully remote learning effective (Monday), and through at least Oct. 13. We will work with the Maine CDC to determine when staff and students may safely return to school,” Malone, the district superintendent, wrote to the community.

Malone said “out of an abundance of caution” Massabesic High School will be fully-remote learning from Monday through Oct. 5.

York County has become the epicenter of Maine’s novel coronavirus pandemic, with numerous outbreaks, including several at social clubs like the Wolves Club, Lafayette Club and the Sanford American Legion, in addition to outbreaks at Calvary Baptist Church, Sanford Fire Department, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and others.

In York County, per capita cases last week – 52 per 100,000 residents – were nearly triple the statewide average of 19 cases per 100,000 population.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, warned last week that there are also examples of “community spread” in York County, cases spread from person to person in more casual settings because of its prevalence in the community. Shah gave the generic example of an infected person having lunch with one or two other people, who then go on to infect others in the personal circle.

“That is concerning because those are the preconditions for exponential growth,” Shah said during a briefing on Sept. 24. “So we’ve got an ever-shrinking window in which to get a lid on what is happening in York County. And if we are not successful in doing so, that pattern of transmission … could quickly lead to exponential growth.”

At RSU 5 in Freeport, Superintendent Becky Foley reported two cases at Freeport Middle School, and one case each at Freeport High School and Mast Landing School.

“There is a possibility that other staff or students came in contact with these individuals and therefore may be exposed to the virus,” Foley wrote in a letter to the community. People who need to be tested or quarantined will be contacted by the Maine CDC or school officials, she wrote.

At Yarmouth schools, one COVID-19 case has been reported at William H. Rowe School, an elementary school.

Meanwhile, Maine reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and no new deaths.

The seven-day daily average of new cases was 30, the lowest it’s been since Sept. 16, when the average was 28. Monday’s daily total of 15 was the lowest since Sept. 14, when there were also 15 daily new cases.

Five of the new cases on Monday were recorded in York County. Cumberland County, the state’s most populous, had two new cases on Monday. Nineteen more people recovered from COVID-19, bringing recoveries to 4,577. Active cases declined from 568 to 561 on Monday.

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