ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — COVID-19 case rates are rising across Minnesota, and they’re affecting younger Minnesotans, especially middle and high school students.

Minnesota health officials said Thursday that the number of school-related COVID-19 cases reported this week among students has now exceeded the peak seen during a surge of cases in November.

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“The last month-plus has been very worrisome — especially among younger Minnesotans,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Thursday

Still, Minnesota Public Radio reported, officials are not planning to issue sweeping recommendations or orders for schools to switch students to distance learning. Instead, they’re ramping up testing opportunities to make it easier for students to get weekly or biweekly COVID-19 tests.

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Changes changes to Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan — which governs how schools operate throughout the pandemic — mean that, despite record COVID-19 spread among students, more than 90 percent of Minnesota schools are still offering some form of in-person learning to their students.

The majority of Minnesota school staff have now had the opportunity to be vaccinated, but the teachers union Education Minnesota reported Thursday that six school staffers have now died of COVID-19 infections linked to schools, including three since February.

Studies have shown that most children who get COVID-19 are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. But some do become seriously ill.

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