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Mass. reports 1,918 new coronavirus cases among public school students and 330 among staff

A lunch line at the Watertown Middle School on Sept. 30.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

State education leaders on Thursday reported 1,918 new cases among public school students and 330 among staff members for the week that ended Wednesday.

The 2,248 total cases were a slight decrease from last week’s report of 2,399 cases.

About 920,000 students across the state are attending school in person, and about 140,000 staff members are inside school buildings. From Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, about 0.21 percent of students and 0.24 percent of staff members reported positive cases of the coronavirus to their school leaders.

Weekly reports of coronavirus cases from schools have been higher the past several weeks than at any time last year, but the increase was expected. Significantly more students are attending school in person, and more than double the number of schools have signed up to participate in COVID-19 testing services provided by the state. Just about 1,000 schools participated last year, compared to more than 2,200 that have signed up to participate this year. Only, 1,352 of those schools have participated so far.

The state on Thursday also reported the results of COVID-19 testing in schools. For the week that ended Sunday, 17,281 pooled tests were processed, with a pool positivity rate of 0.73 percent. In the test-and-stay program, which tests students and staff who were close contacts of people who tested positive for the virus, 8,973 people were tested, and 8,892 tests came back negative.


For the week ending Wednesday, the districts that reported the highest number of cases were Worcester Public Schools, which reported 87 cases among students and 20 among staff; New Bedford Public Schools, which reported 52 cases among students and four among staff; and Springfield Public Schools, which reported 42 cases among students and 13 among staff.

Massachusetts school districts are required to report positive cases among students and employees to the state, though the reports do not indicate how many of the people had been inside school buildings. Local school leaders are asked to report any cases among enrolled students or employed staff members, regardless of whether they had been at school since their positive test.


Reported cases among students and staff also are not an indication that in-school transmission has occurred, or that there was a cluster of cases, which is defined by the state Department of Public Health as two or more confirmed Massachusetts cases with a common exposure. From Sept. 5 to Oct. 2, there were 29 clusters in Massachusetts public, private, special education, and boarding schools.

The cases reported from school leaders are among those reported by the state public health agency every day. During the two-week period from Sept. 19 to Oct. 2, the state reported 1,129 cases among children from birth to age 4, 1,701 cases among kids ages 5 to 9, 1,935 cases among kids ages 10 to 14, and 1,655 cases among teenagers ages 15 to 19.

Among people under age 20, kids ages 10 to 14 had the highest rate of COVID-19 infection for the two-week period: 485.7 people per 100,000.

Experts also have repeatedly emphasized that while many children remain unvaccinated, COVID-19 does not cause severe illness for most children that contract it. From Sept. 19 to Oct. 2, 17 people under age 20 in Massachusetts were hospitalized, and no one in that age group died.