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State identifies close to 100 COVID-19 clusters tied to N.H. schools

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FILE
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The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has identified close to 100 clusters of COVID-19 in K through 12 schools so far this year, though the actual number of COVID cases among students is likely higher.

Dr. Benjamin Chan told school nurses and education leaders on Wednesday that with the increased use of at-home test kits this fall, it's likely more kids have the virus than what gets recorded by the state.

The health department says it tallied 110 clusters for all of last academic year, though many schools were not fully in person for much of that. Clusters this semester range in size but are averaging about seven infections per cluster.

Chan said despite the increase in pediatric cases, there were no documented COVID deaths of anyone under 18 in New Hampshire, and hospitalization rates among children remain relatively low in the state.

The health department continues to encourage universal masking, particularly given the infectiousness of the Delta variant. It cited preliminary studies suggesting a link between universal masking in K-12 schools and lower rates of pediatric COVID cases.