Local school officials in Massachusetts reported to the state 718 new coronavirus cases among students and 94 among school staff members for the two-week period that ended Wednesday.
Though the case numbers were documented over a two-week period, schools were on vacation for the week of April 19, so the data only include five school days. Even so, the number of cases reported among staff members was at its lowest level since October.
Officials estimate that about 650,000 students across the state are attending some form of in-person learning, and about 125,000 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.
Among the highest number of cases reported in a single school or district for the two-week period ending Wednesday, New Bedford Public Schools reported 43 cases among students and three among staff members, Framingham Public Schools reported 24 cases among students and three among staff members, and West Springfield Public Schools reported 26 among students and one among staff members.
The latest figures, released Thursday, include any cases reported to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education between April 15 and 28. 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 12,112 cases among students and 6,037 among staff members have been reported to the state since September.
Thursday’s report came just one day after most Massachusetts middle schools were required to offer full-time, in-person instruction for all students, a major step in the statewide effort to get kids back to classrooms. Earlier this month, elementary schools returned for full-time, in-person learning. Boston, on Monday, had preschool through eighth-grade students in person full time for the first time since March 2020.
All Massachusetts families will have the option to continue remote learning through the end of the academic year.
Though cases in schools were rising prior to the most recent two-week period, state officials and experts have said in-school transmission of the virus is extremely limited. From March 28 to April 24, there were 24 new clusters identified in K-12 schools, according to weekly data from the state Department of Public Health, also released on Thursday. Clusters do not indicate in-school transmission, however, and officials have said the vast majority of cases among children are spreading outside the classroom at youth sports, family gatherings, and other activities.
The pool testing program, which bundles multiple samples together to test at once, processed 10,857 pools from 184 school districts from April 12 to April 25, state education officials reported Thursday; 99 pooled results came back positive. When a pool is positive, all people in that pool are retested individually.