Two Northland school buildings were removed from the Minnesota Department of Health's outbreak list Thursday.

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 a building while infectious during a two-week reporting period. The building is removed after 28 days of no new positive tests.

The school buildings removed were Proctor Public Schools' Bay View Elementary School in Duluth and Mesabi East High School in Aurora.

As of Thursday, one school building was added to the list and 26 were removed for a total of 187 still on the list.

Northland schools still on the list include:

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  • Winterquist Elementary School in Esko, added Nov. 19.

  • Grand Rapids Senior High School, added Oct. 8.

  • Robert J. Elkington Middle School in Grand Rapids, added Dec. 3.

  • West Rapids Elementary School in Grand Rapids, added Nov. 12.

  • Cherry School secondary students in Iron Junction, added Nov. 11.

  • Hibbing High School, added Nov. 11.

  • North Woods School secondary students in Cook, added Dec. 10.

There were 244 more positive cases in schools statewide Dec. 20-26, with 156 new cases among staff and 88 new cases among students. Statewide, 34 more school buildings reported at least one new case.

From Dec. 13-26, 270 school buildings reported one confirmed case, 87 buildings reported two to four and three buildings reported more than five.

Local COVID-19 numbers

If the 14-day case rate per 10,000 residents continues to drop, middle and high school students might be able to head back to school by February.

Health officials were worried about a surge in COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving, as they worried families would gather in small groups, which have been linked to outbreaks. But COVID-19 cases continued to drop in the Northland, even two weeks after the holiday.

There is still a chance families gathered for Christmas or people will gather on New Year’s Eve. Though bars and restaurants in Minnesota are not allowed to have customers inside, there are no restrictions on bars or restaurants just across the bridge in Wisconsin.

A surge in COVID-19 cases from holiday gatherings would be seen in the next week or two. If there is a surge, it could be longer before middle and high school students could resume in-person learning in some cities such as Cloquet, Carlton, Esko, Hermantown, Duluth and Proctor.

The 14-day case rates per 10,000 residents is used as guidance for school districts when choosing the right learning model for middle and high school students. Elementary students are allowed to return to in-person learning five days a week starting Jan. 4 regardless of these numbers.

For secondary school students to return to hybrid learning, the numbers locally must be below 30 and below 10 for them to return to five days a week in-person learning.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-verified 14-day case rates per 10,000 residents around the Northland for Dec. 6-19 were:

  • 70.1 in Aitkin County.

  • 76.53 in Carlton County.

  • 18.83 in Cook County.

  • 69.46 in Itasca County.

  • 44.47 in Lake County.

  • 69.37 in St. Louis County.

  • 72.6 in the Duluth area.

  • 71 in Central/Southern St. Louis County.

  • 37.2 in Northern St. Louis County.

According to Essentia Health’s COVID-19 Regional Projections dashboard, the county 14-day case rates per 10,000 residents as of Dec. 28 were:

  • 49.7 in Aitkin County.

  • 57.2 in Carlton County.

  • 11.1 in Cook County.

  • 45 in Itasca County.

  • 39.4 in Lake County.

  • 22 in St. Louis County.