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Mass. reports 544 new coronavirus cases among public school students, 390 among school staff members

A total of 4,769 cases among students and 3,569 among staff members have been reported to the state since Sept. 24

The Wellesley High School girls basketball team moved 198 desks from the auditorium, which is used as a socially distanced classroom space, into the adjoining hallway for basketball practice.
The Wellesley High School girls basketball team moved 198 desks from the auditorium, which is used as a socially distanced classroom space, into the adjoining hallway for basketball practice.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Local school officials reported to the state 544 new coronavirus cases among students and 390 among school staff members for the week that ended Wednesday.

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.

Cases are only reported among students who are attending in-person school; cases among students in a fully remote learning model are not being tracked by the state. Cases among staff members are only being reported if the employee was inside a school building within the seven days prior to the reported case.

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Among the highest number of cases reported in a single district for the week ending Wednesday, New Bedford Public Schools reported 19 cases among students and 19 among staff members, Fall River Public Schools reported 13 cases among students and 12 among staff members, and Braintree Public Schools reported 16 cases among students and 6 among staff members.

The latest figures, released Thursday, include any cases reported to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education between Jan. 14 and 20. State education officials are not tracking when the cases occur, only when local school officials report them to the state.

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 4,769 cases among students and 3,569 among staff members have been reported to the state.

Schools have not appeared to be superspreading locations for the coronavirus, state leaders have repeatedly said this fall, though they said in early December they had identified at least 75 clusters. They believe about half of those clusters could have been linked to in-school transmission.

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Correction: Due to a state data error, Massachusetts education officials initially reported 541 cases among students and 397 among staff members.


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