FARGO — Public schools in Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead are reporting relatively few active COVID-19 cases and no major apparent difference in incidence regardless of whether the district requires mask use.

As of Thursday, Sept. 16, the public school systems for the three metro districts were reporting COVID-19 case counts that represented less than 1% of various student populations.

Fargo and Moorhead public schools require students and staff to wear masks in school, while West Fargo recommends mask wearing but has no requirement.

The Fargo School District has reported 142 cumulative positive test results for students beginning on the first day of school, Aug. 25 — 81 of whom remained active cases as of Thursday. The district has reported 34 cumulative positive results for teachers and other staff since the first day of school, 12 of whom were still active as of Thursday.

Those numbers include students and staff who already were infected before the start of school, said AnnMarie Campbell, a spokeswoman for Fargo Public Schools.

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In their latest weekly summary, dated Sept. 10, Fargo Public Schools reported 39 elementary students with COVID-19, or 0.75% of the population; 15 middle school students tested positive, or 0.59%, and 13 high school students, or 0.38%.

Among staff, Fargo Public Schools reported three elementary teachers tested positive, or 0.59%, one middle school teacher, or 0.43%, and no high school teachers.

As of Tuesday, West Fargo Public Schools reported 79 active student positives, or 0.64%, and 11 active staff positives, or 0.53%. West Fargo schools administered 224 rapid tests between Sept. 6 and Sept. 16, with 10 positive results, or 4.4%.

Aug. 26 was the first day of classes in West Fargo.

As of Sept. 9, Moorhead Area Public Schools reported 20 active student cases, or 0.29% of the student population, and seven active staff cases, or 0.25% of total staff members. The first day of classes in Moorhead was Aug. 30.

School masking policies have been a contentious issue for local school boards to decide. Fargo Cass Public Health, and public health officials in general, recommend universal masking.

Both Cass and Clay counties have high COVID-19 transmission rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accordingly, the CDC recommends that people wear masks in public, indoor settings.