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COVID-19 infections growing among Massachusetts K-12 students

Socially distanced classroom seating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creative Commons
Socially distanced classroom seating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More new COVID-19 cases among K-12 students in Massachusetts were reported over the last week than in the prior two weeks combined, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data show.

Data the department published Thursday showed new COVID-19 cases in 41,063 students and 7,351 school staff members from the week of Jan. 6 to Jan. 12, for a total of 48,414 school cases reported to the state. DESE's last report, which covered a two-week period from Dec. 23 to Jan. 5, logged 51,100 total cases — 38,887 in students and 12,213 in staff.

The high case numbers in schools come as daily case counts across Massachusetts remain elevated — the Department of Public Health added 18,721 confirmed cases to the state's tally on Thursday — and the highly infectious omicron variant continues its spread. An indoor mask mandate that applies to most K-12 schools — except in cases where local officials have demonstrated an 80% vaccination rate and opted to lift it for vaccinated individuals — will remain in place through at least the end of February after DESE announced an extension this week.

Of the state's 400 school districts, 359 reported at least one new student case of the virus and 348 reported at least one staff case. Fifty-four districts reported more than 200 new student cases. Boston, with 1,708 cases (1,247 students and 461 staff), and Worcester, with 1,577 (1,325 students and 252 staff) reported the most new infections. Boston is the state's largest district and Worcester the third-largest, after Springfield, which reported 984 total cases among students and staff.

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