The number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts schools has fallen for a third straight week.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the numbers Thursday in its weekly COVID-19 report, which covers June 2 through June 8.
During that week, 4,073 students and 1,461 school employees tested positive for coronavirus, representing 0.44% of the student body and 1.04% of staff.
The total of 5,534 cases is a drop of about 31.2% from last Thursday's report, which identified 8,047 cases. That report was also a decrease of about 36.8% from a week earlier.
The drop in cases comes after an upward trend that began in early March and continued for 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.
Thursday's report comes just a day after an announcement from the Boston Public Health Commission that masks will no longer be required in Boston Public Schools starting Monday, June 13.
The recommendation from the BPHC was based upon a recent decline in COVID cases and hospitalizations, as well as fewer traces of the virus showing up in the city's wastewater.
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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.