8576 new cases of COVID-19 among students and 1544 new cases among educators. Is this the post-Thanksgiving COVID surge? Or was this the work of those naughty elves flying around without masks on? Regardless, the numbers of COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks continued to climb and reached a new high.

Number of MA Students  911,465
Positive Student Cases to Date51,612 (5.5%)

Student Count: Number of reported positive cases for students who are enrolled in the school.
Staff Count: Number of reported positive cases for district staff members employed by the school district.

The Commissioner did not make any move to remove the mask mandate in public schools at the December 17 Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting. Vaccination rates are climbing but it appears that vaccines alone will not get everyone through a healthy winter. While many new cases are breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals, vaccinated individuals less than half of all new cases and were much less frequently hospitalized for COVID-19 reasons. Vaccinated or not, students and staff with COVID-19 must still isolate and remain out of school for at least 10 days.

Source for visualization: https://www.patreon.com/oldgrimalkin

If a school has concerns over a spike in cases within a classroom, grade, or a school, districts and schools must notify their local board of health and must call the DESE Rapid Response Help Center at 781-338-3500.

DESE FAQ Week of November 15, 2021

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education weekly reports are available here.

You can explore the DESE guidance for school-based testing, vaccines and safety policies for public and private schools here.

Curious about more statewide COVID-19 data? The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has a comprehensive interactive dashboard with community level data on testing, hospitalizations and COVID-19 Variants. You can visit their dashboard here.

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