State education leaders on Thursday reported 3,257 new cases among public school students and 558 among staff members for the week that ended Wednesday, a record high for a single week.
The total of 3,815 cases was 794 more than the number of cases reported last week.
About 920,000 students across the state are attending school in person, and about 140,000 staff members are inside school buildings. From Nov. 11 to 17, about 0.35 percent of students and 0.4 percent of staff members reported positive cases of the coronavirus to their school leaders.
Weekly reports of coronavirus cases from schools have been higher this school year than at any time last academic year. The number of cases has risen particularly fast in recent weeks as case numbers statewide have seen similar increases.
Significantly more students are attending school in person this year than last year, 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 school year, compared to more than 2,200 that have signed up to participate this year. It’s not clear how many schools are actively participating in testing programs, but 1,725 reported testing data for the week that ended Sunday.
For the week that ended Sunday, 25,812 pooled tests were processed, with a pool positivity rate of 1.38 percent. In the test-and-stay program, which tests students and staff who were close contacts of people who tested positive for the virus, 22,119 tests were conducted, and 21,871 tests came back negative.
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 Oct. 17 to Nov. 13, there were 87 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 Oct. 31 to Nov. 13, the state reported 1,227 cases among children from birth to age 4, 2,586 cases among kids ages 5 to 9, 2,475 cases among kids ages 10 to 14, and 1,491 cases among teenagers ages 15 to 19.
Among people under age 20, kids ages 5 to 9 had the highest rate of COVID-19 infection for the two-week period: 699.9 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 Oct. 31 to Nov. 13, 21 people under age 20 in Massachusetts were hospitalized, and no one in that age group died.