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Mass. reports 398 new coronavirus cases among public school students, 254 among school staff members

A total of 1,326 cases among students and 827 among staff members reported to the state since Sept. 24

Governor Charlie Baker visited Carlisle Public Schools last week and spoke to students.
Governor Charlie Baker visited Carlisle Public Schools last week and spoke to students.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

During the week that ended Nov. 18, there were 398 new coronavirus cases among students and 254 among school staff members reported to the state, according to education officials.

The new cases — amounting to 652 new school cases total — mark the highest number of total new cases reported in a single week so far. State officials estimate that about 450,000 students across the state are attending some form of in-person learning, and about 75,000 staff members are working in buildings.

The state also adjusted the data released on Nov. 12, taking away six previously reported cases among students in Woburn. In total, 185 cases, not 191, were reported among students statewide between Nov. 5 and 11.

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Thursday’s figures include any cases reported to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education between Nov. 12 and 18. State education officials are not tracking when the cases occur, only when local school officials report them to the state. A weekly summary on positive cases reported at schools is published by the state each Thursday.

Starting the week that ended Oct. 21, local school districts are required to report their coronavirus cases to state education officials. The first three reports released by the state did not require districts to report their cases.

Combined, a total of 1,326 cases among students and 827 among staff members have been reported to the state.

Governor Charlie Baker and other education officials have emphasized in recent weeks that schools have not become superspreading locations for the coronavirus. Asked Wednesday whether there has been any coronavirus transmission in schools, Education Commissioner Jeff Riley said it’s been “incredibly limited” and wasn’t sure that any specific cases had been confirmed.

“What we see in schools and what we’ve seen already in some places is we don’t think transmission’s happening in schools, but that doesn’t mean that the kids or teachers aren’t bringing a positive case into schools,” he said during a press conference at the State House.

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A spokeswoman for the state later confirmed to the Globe that they are aware of one case of transmission among staff members at a school in Lawrence.

Riley also emphasized that like other states, Massachusetts is taking precautions that have prevented schools from becoming superspreading locations.

“The policies we’ve particularly put in place around masking, distancing, and hand washing are really helping keep those numbers limited,” Riley said.

The state is only tracking cases involving students and staff members who have been inside school buildings, unless the staff member was not inside a school building for seven days before the case was reported. Coronavirus cases among those who are learning or teaching remotely are not included in the data.


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.