MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two more school staff members have died of COVID-19 in Minnesota.

According to Education Minnesota, health officials reported Thursday two additional school staff deaths in the last week, bringing the total to seven virus-related fatalities since the start of the current school year.

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“It’s tragic and frustrating that so many school staff members have died this school year,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “We know so much more about what works this year to keep students and educators safe compared to last year.”

Health officials did not release specific details on the most recent deaths. Because of that, the union is calling for summary information to be released on the staff members who died and the students who’ve been hospitalized with the virus.

According to Specht, the data would help schools develop better ways to protect staff, students and the community.

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Since the start of the pandemic last year, 15 school staff members have died of COVID-19 in Minnesota, as have two school-aged children. One of those children, a teenager in Hennepin County, died earlier this month.

Earlier Thursday, health officials reported more than 2,000 new virus cases in the state and 41 more deaths. Still, the surge of the Delta variant appears to be on the wane, as the state’s positivity rate is dropping from highs seen earlier in the month.

Meanwhile, the state is preparing for children ages 5 to 11 years old to be vaccinated. Gov. Tim Walz said that the state’s system is ready to deliver the Pfizer vaccine to children in that age group once federal regulators give the green light, which is expected sometime next week.

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