MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’re learning about some of the early COVID-19 cases happening in schools and how schools are responding to them.

The Minnesota Department of Health said Monday that there have been 351 schools in the state that have had at least one COVID case.

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Schools follow guidance from state health officials on what mode of learning they should follow based on the number of cases in their surrounding county. But as Kate Raddatz explains, how a school responds to a COVID-19 case can be made on a case-by-case basis.

At Southwest Christian High School in Chaska, three students tested positive for COVID-19. But school is going on as usual for most of its four hundred and seventeen students.

“We have asked our faculty to have a seating chart for each and every one of their classes,” explained Rob Wassenaar, Dean of Students.

The school contacted state and county health officials and used tracing through assigned seating to identify anyone who was within close contact of a student with the virus.

Per guidelines from the state and the department of health, close contact is defined as 15 minutes of contact within 6 feet in one time.

The school identified 20 students to be quarantined as a precaution. So far, there have been no other confirmed cases.

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The state health department has a detailed COVID 19 decision tree with guidance for schools.

A spokesperson for MDH said decisions can still be made a case by case basis.

“Our recommendation is that they would send something to the broader school community just alerting them,” MDH said.

There’s only a recommendation on who schools have to tell about a confirmed case, outside those directly impacted or students and staff who may have been exposed.

Albert Lea Area Schools have a website where families can track current and total cases. MDH is working on an online dashboard for schools across the state.

School officials at Southwest Christian tell WCCO their number one priority is the safety of their students. But said they also wanted to make sure the least number of students would be interrupted in their in-person learning.

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If you’re interested in learning more about the state guidelines on school response to COVID cases click here.

Kate Raddatz