Most students return to classroom as Massachusetts reports rising COVID-19 cases

SHARON, Mass. — Starting Monday elementary students across Massachusetts are heading back to class full time. For some students it’s the first time in over a year they will get to see their friends five days a week.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is requiring that beginning April 5, grades K-5 have to go back to school full time. Roughly 90% of the schools in Massachusetts will reopen their doors Monday.

“I’m hoping that will help in terms of catching up,” said Laura Frakey, a mother in Sharon who is excited to send her child back to school. “I think they probably a little bit behind, but I think it’s good socially and I think it’s good educationally. I think it’s going to be great.”

Massachusetts granted waivers to some districts that needed more time before returning to the classroom, including Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Somerville and Worcester.

Chelsea returns next week, Somerville will go back after April school vacation week, Boston returns April 26 and Worcester on May 3.

Massachusetts is requiring middle school and high school to be back full time April 28. Parents, however, have the option to keep their kids learning remotely.

While students return to the classroom, coronavirus case numbers have been climbing. Every Thursday, DESE reports COVID-19 cases among students and staff. This past week, schools reported the highest number of cases, with just over 1,000.

From March 25 to March 31, 801 students and 244 staff members tested positive. That’s an increase of 135 cases from the previous week.

This past week Barnstable had the highest number of student cases with 23, followed by Quincy with 22.

Staff cases were highest in Boston with 13 members testing positive, Barnstable had 12.

These numbers do not include students who are learning remotely.

There are more than 1,000 schools that have been participating in a pooled testing program. So far, of the nearly 160,000 people tested, Massachusetts has reported a less than 1% positivity rate.

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