Many colleges and universities across the nation have announced that they are moving to online-only classes, including some in the Twin Ports. As for K-12 schools, the Minnesota Department of Health is not recommending to close schools as of Thursday.

The Minnesota Department of Education and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction are working closely with their state health departments, which are closely monitoring the situation. The state health departments are deferring to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC’s guidance for K-12 schools that do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 identified in their community is to remain open, plan and prepare. As of Thursday afternoon, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Northland.

The CDC recommends schools incorporate hand-washing strategies: washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

The CDC also recommends that districts establish procedures to ensure students and staff who become sick at school or arrive at school sick are sent home as soon as possible, and keep those sick separate from those who are not until they can leave.

Many health officials and school districts recommend that students or staff with a fever of 100 degrees or more stay home until they are fever-free — under 100 degrees — for 24 hours straight without fever-reducing medicine.

As for schools in communities where COVID-19 cases have been identified, the CDC recommends schools work with local health officials to determine if, when and for how long child care programs or schools may need to be dismissed.

“Temporarily dismissing child care programs and K-12 schools is a strategy to stop or slow the further spread of COVID-19 in communities,” the CDC’s recommendation says. “During school dismissals, child care programs and schools may stay open for staff members (unless ill) while students stay home.

"Keeping facilities open allows teachers to develop and deliver lessons and materials remotely, thus maintaining continuity of teaching and learning, and allows other staff members to continue to provide services and help with additional response efforts.”

Duluth Assistant Superintendent Jeff Horton said there are no plans to close schools as of Thursday. When asked about the many colleges and universities going to online-only classes, Camille Murphy, a registered nurse with the Duluth school district, said public K-12 schools are different because they do not house students or staff.

Proctor Public Schools released a statement Thursday afternoon that the district’s school nurse Carlie Anderson is working closely with administration and staff to initiate proactive steps to educate the staff and students on preventing the spread of germs. Anderson asked teachers to share a presentation with students Thursday about germs and proper hand-washing.

For more information about the Minnesota Department of Education’s recommendations and response to COVID-19, visit education.mn.gov.

Superior district not extending spring break

The Superior school district released a statement Thursday afternoon saying there were no plans to close school or extend spring break.

"Public health has shared school closures will only occur if there are confirmed cases in Douglas County," District Administrator Amy Starzecki said in a statement. "This direction may change in the days or weeks to come. I will keep you updated as I learn more."

Starzecki said the district is restricting unnecessary district-sponsored staff and student travel, both domestic and international. She also said the district's health services coordinator is in frequent communication with Douglas County Health, in addition to the district leadership receiving regular updates from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services, which is also deferring to the CDC.

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