Grand Rapids Senior High School was put on the Minnesota Department of Health's list Thursday of school buildings with five or more positive COVID-19 cases in a two-week span.
A school building is put on the list if it reports five or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in students or staff who were in the building while infectious during a two-week reporting period. The building is removed after 28 days of no new positive tests. Grand Rapids Senior High School is currently in the hybrid learning model.
Principal Matt Dass told the News Tribune the high school has had seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the school year where the person was infectious when they were in the building. One was a staff member and six were students. All were from different households.
Due to these exposures, 81 staff and students have been required to quarantine for 14 days. The high school has an enrollment of around 1,200.
Dass said students have been doing a really good job of wearing their masks and social distancing.
“There is no evidence of transmission within the school,” Dass said. “Our kids want to be in school right now and they are getting the job done by wearing their PPE and taking distancing seriously.”
Itasca County has recently seen a surge in COVID-19 cases. Since Oct. 1, the county has had 141 new cases. Itasca County Public Health Division Manager Kelly Chandler said even though Grand Rapids Senior High School was recently added to the list, schools have not been the cause of the surge.
“We're so proud of all of our schools in Itasca. And they really have done a great job, and the kids have been wonderful — they've embraced masking, they've embraced not gathering in large groups because they want to be in school,” she said. “This is a call out to all the adults in our community and we mean every adult. Do your part.”
Dass is also asking the community to do its part by wearing a mask and social distancing.
“Schools are an anchor in our communities and we need our community to be partners with us in order to have activities at school and to get kids their meals, their mental health care and their education,” Dass said. “We need that partnership.
As of Thursday, four new school buildings were added to the list for a total of 11 school buildings being identified as having five or more confirmed cases in students and staff who were in the building while infectious during a two-week reporting period:
Horizon Middle School in Clay County.
Brainerd Senior High School in Crow Wing County.
Albert Lea Senior High School in Freeborn County.
Isanti Middle School in Isanti County.
Grand Rapids Senior High School in Itasca County.
Roosevelt Elementary in Kandiyohi County.
Fairmont Jr./Sr. High School in Martin County.
Martin Luther High School in Martin County.
St. Paul Lutheran School in Martin County.
Hinckley Elementary in Pine County.
Rocori Senior High in Stearns County.
From Sept. 27 through Oct. 3, there were a reported 451 more positive COVID-19 cases in schools statewide, with 221 new cases among staff and 230 new cases among students. Statewide, 194 more school buildings are reporting at least one new case of COVID-19.
From Sept. 20 through Oct. 3, 304 school buildings were reporting one confirmed case of COVID-19, 103 were reporting two to four confirmed cases and 11 were reporting more than five cases.
This story was updated at 3:46 p.m. Oct. 8 with quotes and information from Grand Rapids Senior High School Principal Matt Dass and Itasca County Public Health Division Manager Kelly Chandler. It was originally posted at 12:58 p.m. Oct. 8.