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6 Northland school buildings added to Minnesota outbreak list

Three buildings are in St. Louis County, one is in Carlton County and two are in Itasca County.

(Graphic by Adelle Whitefoot / awhitefoot@duluthnews.com)

Six Northland school buildings were placed on 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 following Northland schools were added to the list Thursday and had at least five positive cases between Nov. 15-28:

  • Hermantown Middle School.

  • Hermantown High School.

  • Lincoln High School in Esko.

  • Mesabi East High School in Aurora.

  • Vandyke Elementary School in Coleraine.

  • Robert J. Elkington Middle School in Grand Rapids.

Both Hermantown schools have switched to distance learning until further notice. Esko Public Schools moved all students to distance learning through Dec. 22. Grand Rapids/Bigfork Public Schools switched all students to distance learning for two weeks with the expectation of returning to hybrid/in person on Monday.


The town of Esko has had 62 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the school year. The district has had 15 cases since Nov. 19, though not all cases were contagious when in a school building.

Between Nov. 26 and Dec. 1, Grand Rapids/Bigfork has had 28 students and 13 staff members test positive. The middle school had eight students and four staff members test positive.

Vandyke Elementary has been in distance learning since Nov. 19 as part of a three-week reset with the expectation of returning to hybrid learning Dec. 14. Mesabi East High School had seven positive cases of COVID-19 as of Nov. 19, so the school moved to distance learning with the expectation of also returning Dec. 14.

As of Thursday, 102 new school buildings were added to the list for a total of 288.

From Nov. 22-28, there were 1,106 more positive COVID-19 cases in schools statewide, with 677 new cases among staff and 498 new cases among students. Statewide, 77 more school buildings reported at least one new case of COVID-19.

From Nov. 15-28, 490 school buildings reported one confirmed case of COVID-19, 323 reported two to four confirmed cases and 882 reported more than five.

According to Essentia Health’s COVID-19 Regional Projections dashboard, the 14-day case rate per 10,000 residents in Northland counties as of Dec. 1 are:

  • 157.8 in Aitkin County.

  • 197.3 in Carlton County.

  • 59.3 in Cook County.

  • 115.1 in Itasca County.

  • 167 in Lake County.

  • 153.9 in St. Louis County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention verified 14-day case rate per 10,000 residents for Nov. 8-21 released Thursday were:


  • 205.89 in Aitkin County.

  • 189.65 in Carlton County.

  • 47.07 in Cook County.

  • 129.64 in Itasca County.

  • 162.74 in Lake County.

  • 151.74 in St. Louis County.

  • 169.7 in the Duluth area.

  • 138.5 in central/south St. Louis County.

  • 90.4 in northern St. Louis County.

In the last week statewide, children ages 0-4 had 767 more positive cases; ages 5-9 had 1,188; ages 10-14 had 1,729; and ages 15-19 had 2,852.

Adelle Whitefoot is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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