COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts schools have been dropping in recent weeks, and with summer vacation starting for many, the decline was particularly stark in Thursday's report.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the numbers Thursday in its weekly COVID-19 report, which covers June 16 through June 22.
In that time period, 1,180 students and 524 school employees tested positive for coronavirus. Those cases account for just 0.13% of the student body and 0.37% of staff.
This is the fifth consecutive week in which cases have declined. The total of 1,704 is a decrease of about 59.6% from last week's total of 4,216, although the semester has ended in some of the state's school districts.
The recent downward trend comes after cases began rising in early March, a pattern that continued for about two months following Massachusetts' decision to lift the statewide school mask mandate. Cases first appeared to slow in the report issued May 19, which showed an increase of just 7.3% over the report on May 12 — when cases rose by 62.6%.
The peak of school cases this year came on Jan. 13, when 48,414 were reported following the holiday season and the omicron surge.
The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported by DESE takes into account school districts (including charter schools), collaboratives, and approved special education schools. The data only represents what has been reported to the state.
The state had stopped publicly reporting the school data in mid-June as school was winding down and cases were dropping. The report on June 16, 2021, included only 53 new cases in students and 5 among school staff.
Statewide on Thursday, Massachusetts health officials reported 1,700 new COVID-19 cases and six new deaths.
In total, there have been 1,755,678 cases and 19,657 deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state reported 459 people hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Thursday's data release, with 143, or 31%, being primary cases. Of the total hospitalizations, 33 are in intensive care and 17 are intubated.
Massachusetts' COVID metrics, tracked on the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, have trended back down after a spring bump.
The state's seven-day average positivity was at 5.53% on Thursday compared to 5.52% on Wednesday.
Nearly 15 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Massachusetts.
Health officials on Thursday reported that a total of 5,403,357 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.