Massachusetts schools this week reported 978 new COVID-19 cases among students and staff.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the numbers Thursday in its weekly COVID-19 report. A total of 821 students and 157 employees with district building access within seven days of the report tested positive between April 1 and April 7.
The case report marks a decrease of 67 total cases from the previous week. The last report said 801 students and 204 district staff tested positive, for a total of 1,005 cases.
Dr. Katherine Gergen Barnett of Boston Medical Center said the decrease in school-related COVID cases is a positive development.
“The great news is that it shows that the vaccines are working,” she said.
Although we saw a slight increase in the number of cases among students, the state reports there are roughly 35,000 more students in class this week than last week, Gergen Barnett said.
“Having children and teachers back in school where we can mandate distance, we can mandate masks, we know that children are going to be washing their hands and that teachers are getting vaccinated is nothing but good news,” she said.
The majority of students in kindergarten through fifth grade in Massachusetts returned to in-person learning Monday as part of the plan outlined by the state's Department of Education.
The state approved waivers for dozens of districts that aren't ready to return full-time and parents may still opt to have their kids learn remotely for the remainder of the school year.
There was a mix of emotions Friday among parents after the first full week of fully in-person class for Massachusetts schools, with some embracing class and other saying they've held their kids out.
“I just think it’s way too soon, they can’t guarantee that people are going to be safe,” said Worcester parent Xiomara Ocasio.
Gergen Barrett warned that, despite the good news of declining numbers, vigilance is necessary, especially as schools go on April break soon.
“These numbers are far lower than what we’re seeing in the community, we know that when people gather, there will be increase in numbers,” she said.