MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Since the beginning of the pandemic, 11 school staff members have died due to COVID-19, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

MDH reported the 11th death on Thursday. It is the third COVID-19-related death of a school employee for the current school year. Two other deaths were reported in late September.

“There are too many sick people in our buildings that aren’t following best practices to control the virus and, to be blunt, too many people dying,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “The experts have told us how to operate schools safely during the pandemic – but we need every school to actually follow the rules.”

Since August of 2020, over 30,000 COVID-19 cases have been tied to schools, and 324 students and staff have been hospitalized. Since Labor Day of 2021, nearly 7,000 COVID-19 cases have been detected in schools throughout the state.

In the last week, school-related infections have increased by more than 7%.

The health department does not provide details about the school staff member, where they worked, or their vaccination status.

Pfizer on Thursday filed an application with the Food and Drug Administration to allow use of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. If the FDA approves, shots could be administered within a matter of weeks.