Just days away from full-time in-person learning for K-5 students in Massachusetts, schools have reported 1,045 total new COVID-19 cases to education officials.
Those cases, detected from March 25 to 31, are among 801 students and 244 staff members, according to data from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
This shows an increase from last week when DESE reported 910 new cases of the virus, split between 682 students and 228 staff members. The week prior, there were 669 total new cases.
Of the positives in this week’s report, 791 student cases and 228 staff cases were at local school districts, 6 student cases and 10 staff cases were at education collaboratives, and 4 student cases and 6 staff cases were at approved special education schools, per DESE data.
Each Thursday, DESE reports COVID-19 cases among students and members who tested positive for the virus within seven days of being inside a school building. This means students learning remotely are not included.
This week, Barnstable had the highest number of student cases among districts with 23, according to the report. Quincy had 22 student cases, Methuen had 15 student cases while Framingham and Mansfield both had 14 student cases, data indicated.
Staff cases at districts were highest in Boston, which had reported 13 cases. Barnstable had 12 staff cases while Worcester had eight staff cases, according to the data.
Among education collaboratives, there were three student cases at Bi-County Collaborative (BICO), and one each at CAPS Education Collaborative, South Coast Educational Collaborative and at Southern Worcester County Educational Collaborative.
Staff cases at education collaboratives included three at Bi-County Collaborative (BICO), two at C.A.S.E. Concord Area SPED Collaborative and one each at South Coast Educational Collaborative, Southern Worcester County Educational Collaborative, Collaborative for Regional Educational Service and Training (CREST), North River Collaborative and at READS Collaborative.
There was one student case each at four approved special education schools. Those schools are: Compass School, The Center School, Hillcrest Educational Centers School and the Willie Ross School for the Deaf, the data shows.
Among staff members, there were two cases reported at the Children’s Center for Communication School and one each at the Willie Ross School for the Deaf, Crystal Springs School, Perkins School for Blind and the Nashoba Learning Group.
This month, the state is requiring districts to offer more in-person learning, shifting away from the remote and hybrid models some schools have relied on through the pandemic.
DESE laid out a timeline for the return to five days a week of in-person classes, requiring districts to have fully in-person learning for K-5 students by April 5 and for grade 6-8 students by April 28. Some districts were granted waivers to delay their return to full-time classes.
Come Monday, 90% of districts will have their elementary schools back fully in-person, DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said previously. All elementary schools will have full-time learning by May 3.
Parents can opt to keep their children home for the remainder of the school year.
Districts are encouraged to plan for a return to in-person learning for pre-kindergarten as soon as possible. A return date for high schoolers has not been announced by DESE yet.
More than 1,000 schools in the state have been participating in a pooled COVID testing program run by DESE. So far, the state has tested nearly 159,000 people in 22,679 pools, reporting a collective 0.76% positivity rate, the Baker administration announced Monday.
More than 329,000 students, educators and staff are eligible to be tested each week. Officials said DESE is now offering the testing program at no cost to K-12 public schools through the end of the school year. Previously, state funding was set to end on April 18.
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