DALLAS — More than 27,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported among students in Texas public schools last week, along with more than 4,400 cases among staff, according to the latest data from state officials.
Schools self-reported 27,353 student cases and 4,447 staff cases on campus through Aug. 29.
In Texas, 5,340,108 students are enrolled in public schools this year, according to the data.
Students cases have grown rapidly in the last three weeks, as school districts have returned to class.
Through the week of Aug. 8, there were 1,273 cases among students. There were 5,167 cases on the week of Aug. 15 and 18,111 cases on the week of Aug. 22.
Case data for this week was not yet available. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports the previous week's data each Friday.
Comparing the school cases to statewide data, there were 104,670 cases reported in Texas during the week of Aug. 29. The school cases, 31,800 between students and staff, made up about 30% of all cases in Texas.
The uptick in cases comes as school districts continue to grapple with COVID-19 protocols and policies, such as requiring masks and offering virtual learning.
Gov. Greg Abbott in May banned mask orders from governmental entities, including school districts. But several large districts in Texas, including Dallas ISD, have required masks in class this year.
The Richardson ISD school board on Friday was holding an emergency meeting about COVID-19, following the one-week closure of Brentfield Elementary. District officials said nearly a quarter of students at Brentfield have been absent from in-person learning this week due to COVID-19.
The school has 24 active cases, though more students and staff have been absent if they have been determined to be close contacts of someone who tested positive.
At the state level, a Texas State Board of Education member, Ruben Cortez Jr., requested that COVID-19 vaccines be added to the list of mandatory immunizations.
"You know, the fact is teachers are dying because they're in our school doing the works that needs to be done to educate our kids," he said. "What I don't want is for our children to be next."
Doctors have pleaded with parents to have their children wear masks in school.
Physicians at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth this week said they are seeing more severe illness in children now than at any point during the pandemic.
On Wednesday, there were 35 children hospitalized with COVID-19 at Cook Children's, an all-time high.