Downward Trend in Mass. School COVID Cases Continues

In the last week, 3,251 students and 670 staff members at Massachusetts schools tested positive for COVID-19, a total of 3,921 cases

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For a fifth straight week, there has been a decline in new COVID-19 cases reported in Massachusetts schools.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the numbers Thursday in its weekly COVID-19 report, which covers Feb. 10 through Feb. 16.

In that time, 3,251 students and 670 school employees have tested positive, a total of 3,921 school cases — a 41.7% drop from the 6,723 cases in last Thursday's report.

New cases in schools have been trending downward each week after Jan. 13, when 48,414 were reported. Before then, they were on a sharp climb through the onset of the omicron variant and the holiday season.

The positive cases in this week's report represent 0.35% of Massachusetts students and 0.78% of school employees.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced last week that the statewide mask mandate in schools would be lifted on Feb. 28.

Each school district will be able to determine whether masks will continue to be required. Mayor Michelle Wu said last week that Boston schools would continue to require masks after the end of the month.

The Westwood School District will stop requiring masks on Feb. 28. Effective this week, masks are optional in Duxbury schools, which have surpassed the state's 80% student vaccination threshold.

The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported by the DESE takes into account school districts (including charter schools), collaboratives, and approved special education schools. The data only represents what has been reported to the state.

The state had stopped publicly reporting the school data in mid-June as school was winding down and cases were dropping. The report on June 16, 2021, included only 53 new cases in students and 5 among school staff.

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