For a second consecutive week, the number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts schools rose significantly, with a total of 3,815 students and staff testing positive.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the numbers Thursday in its weekly COVID-19 report. A total of 3,257 students and 558 employees tested positive between Nov. 11 and Nov. 17.
In last week's report, 2,640 students and 381 employees tested positive for a total of 3,021. That report was also a dramatic increase from the prior week, when 1,879 students and 339 staff members tested positive, totaling 2,218.
The student cases represent 0.35% of the estimated 920,000 students enrolled in K-12 schools. DESE said 0.4% of the roughly 140,000 staff members tested positive in the last week.
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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.
Students ages 5 and up can now get vaccinated against COVID-19, and Massachusetts has approved booster shots for all adults.
Massachusetts' school mask mandate has been extended until Jan. 15, 2022, with Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley saying schools can apply to lift their mandates if 80% of students and staff are vaccinated.
Hopkinton High School, which has surpassed the 80% threshold, received state approval to lift its mask mandate. Several schools, including Andover and Lynnfield, have seen concerning spikes in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks but have remained open.