COVID-19 Cases Confirmed at Three Duluth Schools in First Week Open

So far all that have been confirmed is at least one positive case each at Lincoln Park Middle School, Denfeld High School, and Lowell Elementary. 

DULUTH, Minn.- With just one week into the school year, at least three cases of coronavirus have been confirmed within the Duluth School District.

So far all that have been confirmed is at least one positive case each at Lincoln Park Middle School, Denfeld High School, and Lowell Elementary.

We reached out to ISD 709 Tuesday for a total count of positive COVID-19 cases in the whole district, but throughout the day they were unable to provide that number.

In a letter to staff at Lincoln Park Middle School, Principal Brian Kazmierczak said the district can’t share details about the person who contracted the virus for privacy reasons, though they were last in school on Sept. 11.

The letter reads in part:

“At this time they are either staying home and/or working at home for at least 10 days, and any staff who have been in close contact with them have been notified that they must also stay home and/or work from home for 14 days. If you have not been contacted, you are not considered to be at higher risk, and there is nothing additional you need to do.”

“If we do receive notification of a positive case we confirm that case and then we reach out to the Minnesota Department of Health,” said District Lead Nurse and School Nurse at Laura MacArthur Elementary School, Crystal Diehl.

She said MDH helps them notify those in close contact with the infected individual, or others who may be at-risk.

“Kinda determine whether a larger action whether a classroom needs to be shut down or maybe no action needs to be taken maybe that person was in and out of the building,” said Diehl.

If you aren’t notified, officials said MDH might not have identified you as someone who needs to be.

“The risk of exposure for other individuals present in the building on that date is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community,” Kazmierczak said in the letter.

A district spokesperson tells FOX 21 most teachers are working in school buildings with the start of the school year.

It is not known if it was students or staff members that tested positive at either school, or if it was one of the over 500 registered students in child care at middle and elementary schools in the district.

Meanwhile, the start of the school year was discussed at Tuesday night’s Duluth School Board Meeting.

“There are many reasons and ways to re-evaluate the plan, but waiting until November is not an option,” said a concerned parent.

Dozens of public comments from parents and students expressed displeasure at current at the lack of in-person education so far this year.

“I am a sophomore at Duluth East,” one student said, in an email read by a board member. “I want to be in class because I miss being face-to-face with my teachers.”

“Distance learning is hard to get excited about. And with no set schedule is hard to even get it started,” the student continued. “I want to do well in school and I know it’s important, but not being in school for even a little bit makes that hard.”

Middle and high school students are distance learning for the first quarter, while elementary students start a hybrid method next week, with two days a week in-person.

“Our kids need clear guidance and true connections, not the message that they will be dropped from the school if they don’t report their own attendance,” the previous concerned parent said.

“Use your resources and do what is right for the families you represent,” they added.

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