The Potluck

COVID-19 cases among K-12 students on the rise

By: - October 7, 2021 3:24 pm

Photo by Getty Images.

More than 1,700 K-12 students tested positive for COVID-19 in the week ending Sept. 25, the Minnesota Department of Health announced Thursday.

Case counts associated with K-12 schools climbed steeply throughout the first month of class. Between Sept. 5 and Oct. 2, more than 5,300 students and 800 staff tested positive, according to MDH. Minnesota’s total student enrollment is roughly 862,000.

During the week ending Oct. 2, 996 buildings reported at least one case of COVID-19. Of those, 159 had at least five cases. That’s up from fewer than 100 the week before. There are roughly 2,500 school buildings. 

The update comes as the Department of Health and Gov. Tim Walz are pushing for schools to make use of $55 million in federal aid for COVID-19 testing programs. As of Sept. 28, about 63% of Minnesota’s public and tribal schools requested grants for COVID-19 testing programs, and Walz extended the deadline for applications from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15.

“We must use every available tool to keep our students in classrooms,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan in a statement. “Regular testing helps keep our schools open and ensure that our kids, educators, and families stay safe and healthy — especially while some of our youngest Minnesotans cannot be vaccinated yet.”

A COVID-19 vaccine could be available for children before the end of the year.. Pfizer and BioNTech asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve emergency use of the vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, and a ruling could come between Halloween and Thanksgiving, The New York Times reported.

Minnesota reported 2,674 new COVID-19 cases among all age groups Thursday, and 32 deaths.

Nearly 73% of the state’s population over 12 — 3.4 million people — has at least one dose of vaccine, and 69% are fully vaccinated.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.