MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, so do the number of staff absences in several industries.

Mayo Clinic announced the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is causing concern about having enough health care workers to help patients. Twin Cities school districts are also starting to move to distance learning due to staff shortages.

The Eastern Carver County School District will move all K-12 students to distance learning. At a board meeting Monday night, data showed more than 100 staff members were quarantined over a three-day period last week. That’s just over a third of the 259 total for the entire school year.

“It had become difficult to understand the interconnectedness of all the cases and who was with whom,” district health services supervisor Tara Cliff said.

Anoka-Hennepin Schools told parents on Tuesday that elementary students would move to distance learning because of a shortage of staff and in bus operators.

“This isn’t just an issue hitting teachers,” Education Minnesota president Denise Specht said. “It’s bus drivers, custodians, paraprofessionals administrators.”

Specht said several districts have had to modify learning models as cases grow and staffing issues arise.

“Whoever has been on the bus with those kids gets quarantine and the driver ends up getting quarantined,” Shelly Jonas, executive director with the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association, said.

There are currently about 12,000 school bus operators in the state. There was already a shortage pre-COVID.

“We spent some time cross-training and learning each others’ routes, but you know it just gets to a point where you don’t have enough people fill each other’s routes,” Jonas said.

The Duluth Police Department announced that it was moving to an emergency schedule. As of Tuesday, 48 of their officers had been impacted by COVID-19. WCCO reached out to Minneapolis Police, and a spokesperson said that they have not experienced COVID-related shortages at this time.

Mayo Clinic officials say they have more than 1,000 staff members out quarantined across their Midwest clinics. They have started delaying some elective surgeries to manage.

Kate Raddatz

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