Local schools are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, mirroring trends seen throughout Santa Clara County and in many parts of the country.
The Palo Alto Unified School District recorded 131 students and 22 staff members testing positive for COVID-19 last week, according to the district's data dashboard. That's the highest number of weekly cases in Palo Alto schools since January and continues a pattern of rising cases that the district has been experiencing since students returned from spring break last month. The district has roughly 10,500 students.
The increasing prevalence of COVID-19 is being felt throughout the community. On Wednesday, May 11, Santa Clara County reported an average of 798 new cases per day, a rate more than five times higher than in the trough of mid-March, when fewer than 150 new cases were being reported on average each day.
Health officials say that the increase is due to the spread of highly contagious omicron subvariants and that the actual number of cases is likely higher than those reported because of the use of home test kits. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is urging the public to wear masks indoors and get tested if they feel sick.
Masks remain optional in Palo Alto schools, after the district lifted its mandate in mid-March. That's in line with most other school districts in the region. Only a limited number, including the Ravenswood City School District, currently require masking.
The Mountain View Whisman School District reinstated its indoor mask mandate late last month after identifying a case of on-campus COVID-19 transmission. Last week, the district announced the requirement would stay through the end of the school year. The 4,500-student district reported 33 students and three staff members testing positive in the last seven days as of May 18.
Over in the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, 50 students have reported positive tests so far this week, the highest weekly number since the omicron wave in mid-January. The high school district has roughly 4,500 students.