By PATRICK WHITTLE Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Every county in Maine is now safe for in-person learning in schools, the Maine Department of Education has said.

The state has been using a color-coded system to advise schools of the level of risk of coronavirus transmission. The education department said Androscoggin, Franklin, Oxford and York counties have all been moved to the “green” category, which is the lowest risk category.

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The counties “have seen dramatic drops in their new case rates and positivity rates for the past two weeks, and are now aligned with other counties,” the education department said. It’s the first time every county in the state has been in the green category since the middle of October.

Keeping schools in the low-risk category will require continued mask use, social distancing and staying home when sick, state education commissioner Pender Makin said.

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“That’s what people really need to keep doing to keep schools at the green level,” Makin said.

Counties that get designated “yellow,” or moderate risk, have been advised to consider additional precautions and hybrid instructional models, state officials have said. There’s also a “red,” or high risk, category that has not been invoked.

The Maine Department of Education and Maine Department of Health and Human Services also said Tuesday that the state has purchased 250,000 rapid antigen tests that will be prioritized for schools. The tests are designed to detect an infection in about 15 minutes, the departments said.

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