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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Minnesota educators, health officials urge counties to strengthen coronavirus prevention

Minnesota education and health officials are pleading with schools across the state to step up efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus as a fourth wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths continues to hit the state.

“Since the start of school this fall, we have seen an alarming rise in childhood illnesses and a subsequent increase in the number of hospitalized children and children admitted to intensive care, and, unfortunately, one student has died,” – said in a recent letter to the head of the school from Ian Malcolm. State Commissioner for Public Health and Dr. Sheldon Berkowitz, President of the Minnesota Branch of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Heather Mueller, the State Commissioner for Education, wrote to her parents with equal urgency.

“We have learned a lot since the beginning of the pandemic and our priorities remain the same: first, maintaining the safety, health and well-being of our students, staff and families; and second, ensuring that students can stay in their classrooms for safe personal learning, ”wrote Müller.


Government data on the pandemic show school-aged children have been the main source of infections since resuming classes in September. Currently, the number of cases of the disease among middle-aged and elderly residents is also growing.

The second teenager was among 51 new COVID-19 deaths reported Tuesday. The Goodhugh County resident was between 15 and 19 years old.

Minnesota has reported five COVID-19 deaths among residents under the age of 20 since the pandemic began.

As of last week, there were at least 639 school buildings in the state with ongoing coronavirus outbreaks. Since the start of the pandemic, 257 school staff have been hospitalized, 51 were in intensive care, and 16 have died.

Malcolm noted that the severity of coronavirus outbreaks in schools is often a reflection of how well the local community is working to control COVID-19. She acknowledged that children between the ages of 5 and 11, who only recently became eligible for the vaccine, also played a big role.

“We need all of our schools to implement key mitigation strategies so that children and school staff are not exposed to undue risk,” Malcolm said.


These mitigation measures include vaccinations when eligible, wearing masks, social distancing, staying at home if sick, washing hands, and quarantining when exposed to an infected person.

These guidelines have been available for several months, but the state has no requirement as to what rules schools are putting in place to tackle the coronavirus. The new mandates will require another declaration of a state of emergency by Governor Tim Waltz, which is not expected.

Denise Specht, president of the Minnesota Teachers Union for Education, has called on school officials to follow the pandemic’s guidelines.

“The course of the pandemic in the next few months could be determined by the Minnesota School Board and leaders,” Specht said in a statement. “We all want our school buildings to be a safe place to work and study, and we want them to stay open for as long as possible this winter.”

World Nation News Desk
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