coronavirus

Mass. Schools Report 1,804 COVID Cases Among Students in Last Week, 350 Among Staff

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced a total of 2,154 new COVID-19 cases among students and staff

(Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

Students walk through the hallway wearing masks as they return to class on the first day of school at the Jericho, New York school district on August 26, 2021.

A total of 2,154 students and staff members at Massachusetts schools tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week, a net decrease from the report a week earlier. Student cases dropped by nearly 100, while more worker cases were reported.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the numbers Thursday in its weekly COVID-19 report. A total of 1,804 students and 350 employees tested positive between Oct. 14 and Oct. 20. The weekly report covers a timeframe of Thursday to Wednesday.

In last week's report, 1,901 students and 337 employees tested positive for a total of 2,238.

The student cases represent 0.2% of the estimated 920,000 students enrolled in K-12 schools. DESE said 0.25% of the roughly 140,000 staff members tested positive in the last week.

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 June 16 report included only 53 new cases in students and 5 among school staff.

After a 2019-2020 school year marked by periods of remote instruction, districts across Massachusetts are now back to full-time in-person learning.

Teachers and students age 12 and up are able to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but there's still no clear timeline on when younger kids will be eligible for vaccines. Massachusetts' school mask mandate has been extended until at least Nov. 1, with Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley saying schools can apply to lift their mandates if 80% of students and staff are vaccinated.

The school districts in Ashland and Hopkinton have surpassed the 80% threshold, but neither has lifted its mask requirements.

Gov. Charlie Baker said last month he is not considering a return to remote learning as an option for school districts despite the current spike in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts.

"Schools have a certain number of days baked into their calendar that they are allowed to miss and I think our view at this point is in-person learning is where we should be and where we should stay, and anybody who isn't vaccinated who's eligible should get vaccinated and take advantage of these clinics we've put up," he said.

State House News Service contributed to this report.