Nearly 950 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the past week among students and staff in Massachusetts schools.
Districts announced 552 of the new cases were diagnosed in students, while the other 397 cases of the virus were among staff members. The latest data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education covers Dec. 17 through Dec. 23, the week leading into winter vacation for many.
The Weymouth School District reported the highest case numbers — 35 — but New Bedford wasn't far behind at 33 cases. Woburn (20), Shrewsbury (19), Fall River (18), Peabody (17) and Westborough (16) followed.
The 949 cases reported Thursday is a slight decrease from last week's 1,009 -- which set a record as the most coronavirus cases announced in a single week since students returned to class in the fall.
Overall, the state estimates there are about 450,000 students and 75,000 staff participating in some kind of in-person learning across the state.
School districts this fall have had the option between in-person learning, remote learning or a hybrid of the two, however, the weekly report released every Thursday only shows the number of positive cases for students who are in hybrid or in-person models. It does not include students in remote-only programs.
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State officials announced in early November that all Massachusetts communities in the gray, green and yellow COVID risk categories are expected to have students learning in-person. They added that those in the highest-risk red category should consider a hybrid model instead of going fully remote.
The latest community-level metrics on the pandemic showed that 188 communities are now considered at the highest risk for transmitting the new coronavirus. That's one more than last week, when more than half of Massachusetts' communities were in the red zone for the first time.
Amid a new surge, the numbers from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have been increasing steadily for weeks, as have coronavirus case totals.