By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As a substantial portion of Minnesota students are soon to be heading back to the classroom, the Minnesota Department of Health is launching a campaign to encourage young people to get tested for COVID-19 every two weeks until the end of the school year.

While the rate of infection has dropped significantly in recent weeks, and thousands are being vaccinated every day, health officials say it’s still important to continue testing for the virus, especially since all secondary schools in the state will be open to some form of in-person learning by next month.

“To protect this progress, we need to use all the tools at our disposal,” said Minnesota Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff, in a statement. “That’s why we are asking parents to make regular testing a priority for their families. Testing can help spot a single case early and prevent it from becoming many cases.”

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The testing won’t officially be required for students who return to classrooms. However, officials say they are recommending that students who return to in-person learning, youth sports or other extracurricular activities get tested every two weeks up until the end of the school year.

Since the outbreak began last March, more than 3.4 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in Minnesota. Over 480,000 people have tested positive for the virus, and 6,443 people have died. As of Monday, over 770,000 Minnesotans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose while 370,981 have completed the two-dose series.