State education leaders on Thursday reported 41,063 new COVID-19 cases among public school students and 7,351 cases among staff members for the week that ended Wednesday.
The total number of cases, 48,414, represent a drop of 2,686, or about 5 percent, from those reported last week. There was almost 5,000 fewer cases reported among staff, but more than 2,100 reported among students, according to the data.
About 920,000 students across the state are attending school in person, and about 140,000 staff members are inside school buildings. From Jan. 6 to Jan. 12, about 4.46 percent of students and 5.25 percent of staff members reported positive cases of the coronavirus to their school leaders.
Just about 1,000 schools participated last 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 2,050 have reported testing data for the one-week period that ended Sunday.
For the week that ended Sunday, 38,506 pooled tests were processed, with a pool positivity rate of 20.1 percent. In the test-and-stay program, which tests students and staff who were close contacts of people who tested positive for the virus, 31,524 tests were conducted, and 29,743 tests came back negative.
For the week ending Wednesday, the districts that reported the highest number of cases were Boston Public Schools, which reported 1247 cases among students and 461 among staff; Worcester Public Schools, which reported 1325 cases among students and 252 among staff; and Springfield Public Schools, which reported 789 cases among students and 195 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 Dec. 12 to Jan. 8, there were 94 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 Dec. 26 to Jan. 8, the state reported 15,004 cases among children from birth to age 4, 16,801 cases among kids ages 5 to 9, 18,743 cases among kids ages 10 to 14, and 22,890 cases among teenagers ages 15 to 19.
Among people under age 20, kids ages 15 to 19 had the highest rate of COVID-19 infection for the two-week period: 4,955.5 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 Dec. 26 to Jan. 8, 239 people under age 20 in Massachusetts were hospitalized, and 2 people in that age group died.
Colleen Cronin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.