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COVID cases on the rise among state’s school-age children

NH Bulletin
Published: 9/3/2021 11:57:33 AM

As schools reopen and their masking policies remain controversial, positive COVID-19 tests among school-age children, most of whom are not eligible for vaccination, are climbing.

Between Aug. 1 and Aug. 30, the most recent dates available, positive tests among 0- to 9-year-olds increased by 663, for a total of 6,410 since the pandemic began. For people ages 10 to 19, there has been an increase of 759 positive tests, for a total of 13,381. (The dashboard does not report the numbers for only children under 18, which more closely counts the school-age population.)

Both are a fraction of the overall population for both groups: According to recent census data, there are 257,000 people in the state under age 18. Specific age categories were not available. According to the dashboard’s vaccination page, nearly 47,680 residents ages 12 to 19 have gotten one. (The vaccination page also does not report numbers for only children 12 to 18, nor does it calculate the percentage of fully vaccinated people among that age group.)

In an Aug. 30 release, however, the state cautioned that the number of positive tests among children may be somewhat higher because several cases remain under investigation. Additionally, positive test results do not include children who are infected and have not been tested.

The state Department of Health and Human Services has emphasized continued masking even for those who are vaccinated as a measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But the state has left masking policies and other COVID-19 safety protocols, such as social-distancing standards, to local school districts.

Doing so has also shifted the debate to the local level, creating controversy in both schools that require masks and those that make them optional. The New Hampshire Union Leader reported Wednesday that four more school districts are facing lawsuits over mandating masks, joining others that faced similar suits last year.

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