By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Union leaders in Minnesota are drawing attention Thursday to the COVID-19 death of a second school staff worker in as many weeks.

“The news that two school staff members have died of COVID-19 in two weeks is a tragic reminder that this pandemic isn’t over,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, in a statement. “Everyone in our school community – families, students and educators – must remain vigilant and keep each other safe.”

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On Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported the fifth death linked to the virus spreading in schools. No details were released on the victim’s identity.

Meanwhile, the total infections linked to Minnesota schools have risen to 16,000. This past week saw the greatest week-to-week increase in infections, with 674 recorded.

According to the data, seven school staffers or students have been hospitalized for COVID-19 in the last week. One person was listed in the ICU.

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The union is urging school staffers and families not to embark on any unnecessary travel over spring break. They are also asking educators, staff and students to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and get tested.

Over the last several weeks, prekindergarten through 12th grade educators have been getting vaccinated in Minnesota. Amid the vaccination push, many more students have returned to in-person learning across the state.

On Thursday, health officials also reported that total infections in the state have surpassed 500,000. The death toll is currently at 6,762.

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More than 2 million vaccines have been administered in the state, with more than 1.3 million residents (23% of the state’s population) having received at least one vaccine dose.