PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — At least 515 students and 75 educators in Rhode Island have tested positive for the coronavirus since the 2021-22 school year started, according to the R.I. Department of Health.
A Target 12 analysis of state data released Wednesday shows the nearly 600 infections were reported between Sunday, Aug. 29, and Saturday, Sept. 11, meaning the total doesn’t include any infections discovered so far this week.
Children ages 5 to 9 also had the highest rate of new infections last week across all age groups, according to a separate analysis. The age group is currently ineligible to receive vaccines.
The new cases come as districts return to full in-person learning, and some — including Winsor Hill Elementary School in Johnston — are almost immediately grappling with outbreaks. Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo Jr. mentioned the the school’s cases at the state’s bi-weekly COVID-19 briefing outside Johnston High School.
“Generally, the numbers have been running about four to six in each of our schools,” DiLullo said. “We had a high number at our Winsor Hill School. That was a 13.”
Winsor Hill Elementary School was closed on Tuesday after it was learned a staff member had tested positive. DiLullo said they decided to close the school in order to safely and accurately complete contact tracing.
“We’re doing close contacts, so we’re using that six-foot radius, we’re considering whether students have masks on or no masks on, what the setting is,” he explained. “Obviously, lunch period is much more dangerous than the classroom, but for the most part we are trying to keep all of our students in school and only quarantining when necessary.”
Target 12’s analysis looked at students and staff testing positive in school, meaning they were infected after school started, rather than outside of school or before the start of the school year.
As of Sep. 11, at least 295 positive tests were reported among students, along with at least 70 among educators while in school. The data shows at least 220 positive cases were reported among students and at least 5 among educators while not in school.
On Wednesday, the Health Department reported 337 new cases statewide and one additional COVID-19-related death.
Another 121 cases linked to the delta variant were found this week, bringing the total to 706, according to health officials. The Health Department sequences a portion of the new cases each week to screen for the highly contagious variant.
Currently, there are 116 hospitalizations, with 14 patients in the ICU and 10 on ventilators.