An outbreak has been declared at Benton Elementary School after a third case of COVID-19 within a 14-day period was identified Monday.

In a letter posted Monday to the Maine School Administrative District 49 website, Superintendent Roberta Hersom wrote that a Benton Elementary staff member had notified the school of a positive test result.

MSAD 49 serves the towns of Albion, Benton, Clinton and Fairfield.

“This case is the third in fourteen days, meeting the threshold for outbreak, as defined by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Disease Surveillance,” Hersom wrote.

Benton Elementary School is closing to in-person learning through Thursday as it records a COVID-19 outbreak and a dearth of staff to stay open. It is expected to reopen Friday. Students will work remotely until Friday. Portland Press Herald file photo by Brianna Soukup

Two other positive cases within staff members were announced Dec. 1 and Dec. 4.

According to Hersom, despite the three positive cases, the CDC does not recommend closing the school.

But with more than 10 staff members identified as close contacts, Hersom has announced the school will close until the end of the week. Students will work remotely while the building is cleaned.

“However, with 83 students and 12 staff members identified as close contacts, there are a number of staff members in addition to this total who are unable to report to work due to a variety of other circumstances,” Hersom wrote. “Therefore, out of great caution and concern for the school’s ability to operate without a number of staff, we are closing Benton Elementary School through Thursday, December 10. We will complete a thorough environmental cleaning of the facility and school will reopen on Friday, December 11, when the school will be more fully staffed.”

The district has now had a total of six positive cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the school year.

The newest case was announced the same day the state set a new one-day record for new COVID-19 cases.

As of Monday morning, there were 427 new cases reported, up from the previous one-day record of 349 that was set last Wednesday.

No new deaths were reported Monday.

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