Shops in downtown Madison are pictured on March 30, 2016.  Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

The Madison school district will be remote learning for the rest of the week after a handful of COVID-19 cases caused a ripple effect that is becoming commonplace at the beginning of Maine’s school year.

Madison School District Superintendent Bonnie Levesque said Tuesday that an outbreak of three cases in the elementary school meant 40 students would have to quarantine in that building alone. A single case in the middle school and high school affected enough students that the superintendent estimated 100 of the 570 students would have had to be out.

Things were further complicated by cases at a local da ycare where some high school teachers send children, causing them to have to stay home and ensuring the building would not have enough staff to operate, Levesque said. It is a situation that many schools have dealt with this year, with more than a dozen seeing outbreaks in the first weeks of classes and going remote.

“It’s frustrating, because last year went pretty well,” Levesque said, noting Madison operated on a hybrid system where only half the students were in the schools at any time. The district did not have to go remote once last year, she said.

Madison’s district did not require masks this year after schools were left to make their own decisions on how to operate after Gov. Janet Mills ended a state of emergency this summer, following federal public health guidance that masking was no longer needed for vaccinated people but recommended for those who are unvaccinated. Cases, fueled by a more contagious delta variant, have since spiked as vaccinations slowed.

Levesque said the school board will consider a recommendation to require masking for the rest of the month next week.