Local Schools Covering Their Bases with the Rise of COVID-19 Cases
DULUTH/HERMANTOWN, Minn. — With Minnesota making recent headlines for being one of the states with the most new covid cases nationwide, local school districts are having to step back, making sure they are still doing what they can to keep everyone safe.
Cases continue to rise in Minnesota, and as healthcare workers are tirelessly trying to slow the spread, so are schools. The Duluth Public School District reported 60 positive cases this week, which is less than 1% of students and staff, and although that number isn’t much, they are still noticing an uptick in cases.
“We do see cases increasing with students who are participating in athletics and other events outside of the school district, so we know that’s where many of the incidents are occurring, but then of course then they come to school and then we are having to deal with those situations,” Anthony Bonds, Assistant Superintendent of Duluth Schools said.
Transmission rates are also growing, and what was not seen before is now coming in to view.
“Now all of a sudden what’s happening, just lately, is we’re identifying close contacts, those parents are getting their kids tested, and they’re coming back positive, so now were concerned, like last year we could say we do not believe its transmitting in the school, this year we can’t say that,” Wayne Whitwam, Superintendent of Hermantown Schools said.
Hermantown has seen a spike in cases which has alarmed many parents, but the majority of these cases are concentrated in one area, “we have about 13 cases in elementary out of 740 students, so if you look at that, we’ve got about 13 cases in elementary, we have 16 in 5th grade,” Whitwam said.
And Hermantown Public Schools have sent this age group in the middle school home for a re-set, in efforts of trying to reduce that rate. The Duluth School District sees this action, but hopes to continue on an un-eventful path.
“Again, were not alarmed at this time, we are concerned because they are increasing and that could potentially lead to things that happened similar to Hermantown where we may have to isolate or quarantine a classroom or two, and when those things happen, we’ll do those things, but again, we’re really proud of the fact we believe our mitigation efforts are working,” Bonds said.
That might be the case, but parents still worry, and the superintendents say the same thing.
“You know, my biggest message to parents is, if your kids are showing symptoms, please keep them home because at this point we do believe its transmitting in schools,” Whitwam said.
Hermantown has also seen more positive cases in their staff, but are hoping the reset helps with that too.