By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —Minnesota schools are reporting a record number of COVID-19 cases.

The Minnesota Department of Health says there have been 275 school outbreaks since the end of August. That’s an average of 12 cases per outbreak.

“We had a big increase again this last week with 2,388 reported student cases and 408 staff cases,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease for the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Department of Health said the number of COVID-19 cases right now more than doubles what schools saw last fall. An increase was expected with students back in class, but Ehresmann said the numbers are a concern and she believes it’s because many districts aren’t following best practices.

“This year is different. We’ve provided the guidance, and we’ve explained what needs to happen and they are not following it,” Ehresmann said.

The guidelines include:

1. Universal masking in schools regardless of vaccination status

2. Regular testing for students.

3. Keeping kids who are sick at home.

4. Contact tracing when a case is detected.

“We are hearing from parents, from school nurses, about the fact that when there are situations with cases the best practices or guidance is not being followed,” Ehresmann said.

Outbreaks are defined as school buildings where there are five or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in students or staff during a two-week period.

Anoka County has seen outbreaks in 19 school buildings, Hennepin County saw 38, and Ramsey County reported outbreaks in 8 school buildings.

Across the St. Croix River, in Pierce County, Wisconsin, schools there have experienced record numbers of COVID-19 cases in the first month of the school year. During September, 190 school children tested positive for COVID-19, which was about one third of the total cases identified in the county during that time period, officials said.

St. Paul Schools has enacted some new COVID-19 protocols, but said as of now on-site testing is not realistic due to a lack of funding, staffing and concerns over parental consent.

Ehresmann said there is now grant funding available for schools looking to provide on-site testing.

“Every district, every charter school or tribal school is eligible to apply for this funding,” Ehresmann said.

The application to apply for those grants has been extended to Oct. 15.

Ehresmann said so far only 44% of eligible school districts have applied.

This week, Pfizer announced it would submit its data on 5- to 11-year-olds and the COVID-19 vaccine, another step towards making the shot available to younger children.

Meanwhile, Children’s Minnesota says parents are packing emergency rooms for COVID tests but the ERs are already filled with COVID and RSV patients. The hospital is asking that families instead go to pharmacies or community testing sites, like the one at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Health officials on Thursday reported an additional 2,874 virus cases and 13 more deaths due to COVID-19, as the state’s average number of daily new cases per capita has reached heights not seen since late December 2020.


Minnesota Schools Reporting COVID Outbreaks As Of Sept. 30:

Anoka Andover Elementary, Andover
Anoka Anoka High School, Anoka
Anoka Anoka Middle School for the Arts, Anoka
Anoka Avail Academy (Blaine K-8 Campus), Blaine
Anoka Blaine High School, Blaine
Anoka Blue Heron Elementary, Lino Lakes
Anoka Cedar Creek Elementary School, Cedar
Anoka Centennial High School, Circle Pines
Anoka Centennial Middle, Lino Lakes
Anoka Coon Rapids High School, Coon Rapids
Anoka DaVinci Academy, Ham Lake
Anoka Northdale Middle, Coon Rapids
Anoka PACT Charter School, Ramsey
Anoka Park Terrace Elementary, Spring Lake Park
Anoka Rice Lake Elementary, Lino Lakes
Anoka St. Francis High, Saint Francis
Anoka St. Francis Middle, Saint Francis
Anoka Sunrise Elementary, Blaine
Anoka University Elementary, Blaine
Beltrami Blackduck Secondary, Blackduck
Benton Riverview Intermediate School, Sartell
Benton Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School, Sauk Rapids
Benton Sauk Rapids-Rice Senior High, Sauk Rapids
Blue Earth Mankato East Senior High, Mankato
Blue Earth Mankato West Senior High, Mankato
Brown Jefferson Elementary, New Ulm
Brown New Ulm High School, New Ulm
Brown New Ulm Middle School, New Ulm
Carver Bayview Elementary, Waconia
Carver Bluff Creek Elementary, Chanhassen
Carver Chanhassen High School, Chanhassen
Carver Chapel Hill Academy, Chanhassen
Carver Chaska Middle School West, Chaska
Carver Southview Elementary, Waconia
Carver Southwest Christian High School, Chaska
Carver St. John’s Lutheran School, Chaska
Carver Waconia High School, Waconia
Carver Waconia Middle School, Waconia
Carver Watertown Mayer High, Watertown
Carver Watertown-Mayer Elementary School, Watertown
Carver Watertown-Mayer Middle, Watertown
Cass Cass Lake-Bena Middle School, Cass Lake
Chippewa Montevideo Middle, Montevideo
Chippewa SWWC ELC – Montevideo, Montevideo
Chisago North Branch Senior High, North Branch
Chisago Taylors Falls Elementary, Taylors Falls
Clay Horizon Middle School, Moorhead
Clay Moorhead High School, Moorhead
Clay Robert Asp Elementary, Moorhead
Clay S.G.Reinertsen Elementary, Moorhead
Clearwater Bagley Elementary, Bagley
Clearwater Bagley Secondary, Bagley
Crow Wing Brainerd Senior High, Brainerd
Crow Wing Eagle View Elementary, Breezy Point
Crow Wing Forestview Middle, Baxter
Crow Wing Pequot Lakes Middle, Pequot Lakes
Crow Wing Pequot Lakes Senior High, Pequot Lakes
Dakota Apple Valley Senior High, Apple Valley
Dakota Cedar Park Elementary, Apple Valley
Dakota Echo Park Elementary,
Dakota Farmington High School, Farmington
Dakota Hastings Middle School, Hastings
Dakota Kaposia Education Center Elementary, South Saint Paul
Dakota Meadowview Elementary, Farmington
Dakota Pinewood El., Eagan
Dakota St. Croix Lutheran, West St. Paul
Dakota Valley Middle, Apple Valley
Dakota Woodland Elementary, Eagan
Dodge Kasson-Mantorville Middle School, Kasson
Dodge Kasson-Mantorville Senior High, Kasson
Freeborn Albert Lea High School, Albert Lea
Freeborn Halverson Elementary, Albert Lea
Freeborn Lakeview Elementary, Albert Lea
Hennepin Anthony Middle School, Minneapolis
Hennepin Barton Open Elementary, Minneapolis
Hennepin Champlin Park High School, Champlin
Hennepin Creek Valley Elementary, Edina
Hennepin Dayton Elementary, Dayton
Hennepin Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion, Eden Prairie
Hennepin Earle Brown Elementary, Brooklyn Center
Hennepin Edison Senior High, Minneapolis
Hennepin Fernbrook Elementary, Maple Grove
Hennepin Glen Lake Elementary, Minnetonka
Hennepin Hmong International Academy, Minneapolis
Hennepin Jackson Middle, Champlin
Hennepin Jefferson Elementary, Minneapolis
Hennepin Kenny Elementary, Minneapolis
Hennepin Maple Grove Middle School, Maple Grove
Hennepin Maple Grove Senior High, Maple Grove
Hennepin Marcy Open Elementary, Minneapolis
Hennepin Minnehaha Academy Mid & Lower Schools, Minneapolis
Hennepin Minnetonka Senior High, Minnetonka
Hennepin Oak Point Elementary, Eden Prairie
Hennepin Parnassus Preparatory School, Maple Grove
Hennepin Peter Hobart Elementary, Saint Louis Park
Hennepin Providence Academy, Plymouth
Hennepin Redeemer Christian Academy, Wayzata
Hennepin Richfield Senior High, Richfield
Hennepin Robbinsdale Armstrong Senior High, Plymouth
Hennepin Robbinsdale Cooper Senior High, New Hope
Hennepin Rogers Senior High, Rogers
Hennepin Sanford Middle, Minneapolis
Hennepin SB Maranatha Christian Academy, Brooklyn Park
Hennepin Southwest High School, Minneapolis
Hennepin St. Charles Borromeo, Saint Anthony
Hennepin St. John’s Lutheran, Corcoran
Hennepin Twin Cities International Schools, Minneapolis
Hennepin Washburn Senior High, Minneapolis
Hennepin Wayzata High, Plymouth
Hennepin Weaver Lake Science Math & Technology School, Maple Grove
Hennepin Yinghua Academy, Minneapolis
Houston Caledonia Elementary, Caledonia
Houston Caledonia Elementary, Caledonia
Houston Houston Secondary, Houston
Houston La Crescent Senior High, La Crescent
Houston La Crescent-Hokah Elementary, La Crescent
Houston Spring Grove Secondary, Spring Grove
Hubbard Nevis Elementary, Nevis
Hubbard Park Rapids Area Century Elementary, Park Rapids
Isanti Cambridge-Isanti High School, Cambridge
Itasca Bigfork Elementary, Bigfork
Itasca Bigfork Secondary, Bigfork
Kandiyohi MACCRAY East Elementary, Raymond
Kandiyohi Willmar Senior High, Willmar
Koochiching Falls Elementary, International Falls
Koochiching Falls Secondary, International Falls
Koochiching Littlefork-Big Falls Elementary, Littlefork
Lake of The Lake of The Woods Elementary, Baudette
Lyon Minneota Elementary, Minneota
Lyon Minneota Secondary, Minneota
Marshall Warren Elementary, Warren
Marshall Warren-Alvarado-Oslo Secondary, Warren
Martin Fairmont Elementary School, Fairmont
Martin Fairmont Jr./Sr. High School, Fairmont
McLeod Hutchinson Middle, Hutchinson
McLeod Hutchinson Park Elementary, Hutchinson
McLeod Hutchinson Senior High, Hutchinson
McLeod Hutchinson West Elementary, Hutchinson
Meeker A.C.G.C. Secondary, Grove City
Meeker Eden Valley Secondary, Eden Valley
Mille Lacs Milaca Elementary, Milaca
Mille Lacs Princeton Middle School, Princeton
Morrison Little Falls Senior High, Little Falls
Mower Austin Senior High, Austin
Mower I.J. Holton Intermediate School, Austin
Mower Sacred Heart, Adams
Mower Southgate Elementary, Austin
Nicollet Nicollet Senior High School, Nicollet
Nicollet St. Peter High School, Saint Peter
Nicollet St. Peter Middle School, Saint Peter
Olmsted Bamber Valley Elementary, Rochester
Olmsted Bishop Elementary, Rochester
Olmsted Byron Primary School, Byron
Olmsted Century Senior High, Rochester
Olmsted Holy Spirit, Rochester
Olmsted John Adams Middle, Rochester
Olmsted John Marshall Senior High, Rochester
Olmsted Kellogg Middle, Rochester
Olmsted Longfellow Choice Elementary, Rochester
Olmsted Stewartville Middle, Stewartville
Olmsted Sunset Terrace Elementary, Rochester
Olmsted Willow Creek Middle, Rochester
Otter Tail Heart of The Lake Elementary, Perham
Otter Tail Viking Elementary School, Pelican Rapids
Pennington Franklin Middle, Thief River Falls
Ramsey Community School of Excellence, St. Paul
Ramsey Hmong College Prep Academy, Saint Paul
Ramsey Matoska International, White Bear Lake
Ramsey North Senior High, North Saint Paul
Ramsey Roseville Area Senior High, Roseville
Ramsey St. Anthony Park Elementary, Saint Paul
Ramsey White Bear North Campus Senior, White Bear Lake
Ramsey White Bear South Campus Senior, White Bear Lake
Red Lake Red Lake County Central High School, Oklee
Redwood Cedar Mountain Secondary, Morgan
Redwood Redwood Valley Middle, Redwood Falls
Redwood Walnut Grove Elementary, Walnut Grove
Rock Luverne Senior High, Luverne
Roseau Roseau Elementary, Roseau
Saint Louis North Woods Secondary, Cook
Scott Eagle View, Elko New Market
Scott Falcon Ridge, New Prague
Scott Jordan High School, Jordan
Scott Jordan Middle, Jordan
Scott New Prague Middle School, New Prague
Scott New Prague Senior High, New Prague
Scott Raven Stream Elementary, New Prague
Scott Shakopee High School, Shakopee
Scott Shakopee West Middle School, Shakopee
Sherburne Becker Middle, Becker
Sherburne Spectrum High School, Elk River
Sherburne Zimmerman High School, Zimmerman
Sherburne Zimmerman Middle, Zimmerman
Stearns Avon Elementary, Avon
Stearns Eden Valley Elementary, Eden Valley
Stearns Oak Hill Community Elementary, Saint Cloud
Stearns Prince of Peace Lutheran School, Saint Cloud
Stearns Rocori Senior High, Cold Spring
Stearns Sartell Middle, Sartell
Stearns Sartell Senior High, Sartell
Stearns Sauk Centre Secondary, Sauk Centre
Stearns Technical Senior High, Saint Cloud
Steele Blooming Prairie Elementary, Blooming Prairie
Steele Owatonna Middle School, Owatonna
Steele Owatonna Senior High, Owatonna
Steele Washington Elementary, Owatonna
Steele Wilson Elementary, Owatonna
Todd Long Prairie-Grey Secondary School, Long Prairie
Wadena Sebeka Secondary, Sebeka
Waseca NRHEG Secondary, New Richland
Waseca Waseca Junior High, Waseca
Waseca Waseca Senior High, Waseca
Washington Forest Lake Area Community School, Forest Lake
Washington Forest Lake Area High School, Forest Lake
Washington Mahtomedi Senior High, Mahtomedi
Washington Oneka Elementary School, Hugo
Washington Park High School, Cottage Grove
Washington Scandia Elementary, Scandia
Washington Skyview Community Elementary, Oakdale
Washington Stillwater Area High School, Stillwater
Washington Wyoming Elementary, Wyoming
Watonwan St. Paul’s Lutheran, Saint James
Wilkin Rothsay Elementary, Rothsay
Winona Lewiston-Altura Secondary, Lewiston
Winona Winona Middle, Winona
Wright Annandale Elementary School, Annandale
Wright Buffalo Senior High, Buffalo
Wright Delano High School, Delano
Wright Monticello Senior High, Monticello
Wright Prairie View Middle School, Otsego
Wright St. Michael-Albertville Senior High, Saint Michael
Wright Tatanka Elementary STEM School, Buffalo

John Lauritsen