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7 Northland schools removed from state outbreak list

School buildings are removed after 28 days of no new positive tests where a person was infectious in a building.

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

Seven Northland schools 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.

Schools removed include Cloquet Middle School, Cloquet High School, Hermantown Middle-High School, Esko High School, Vandyke Elementary School in Coleraine and Lincoln Elementary School in Hibbing.

As of Thursday, four new school buildings were added to the list and 93 were removed for a total of 212.

From Dec. 13-19, there were 495 more positive COVID-19 cases in schools statewide, with 268 new cases among staff and 227 new cases among students. Statewide, 18 more school buildings reported at least one new case of COVID-19.


From Dec. 6-19, 374 school buildings reported one confirmed case of COVID-19, 159 reported two to four confirmed cases and 11 reported more than five.

Local COVID-19 numbers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-verified 14-day case rates per 10,000 residents around the Northland for Nov. 29 through Dec. 12 were:

  • 84.63 in Aitkin County.

  • 113.96 in Carlton County.

  • 35.77 in Cook County.

  • 103.31 in Itasca County.

  • 54.88 in Lake County.

  • 104.11 in St. Louis County.

  • 100.2 in the Duluth area.

  • 118.1 in Central/Southern St. Louis County.

  • 77.4 in Northern St. Louis County.

The 14-day case rates are 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.
According to Essentia Health’s COVID-19 Regional Projections dashboard, the county 14-day case rates per 10,000 residents as of Dec. 27 were:

  • 50.9 in Aitkin County.

  • 61.1 in Carlton County.

  • 14.8 in Cook County.

  • 51.2 in Itasca County.

  • 37.5 in Lake County.

  • 56.7 in St. Louis County.

According to state guidelines, the 14-day case rate should be below 30 for secondary students to return to hybrid learning. School districts can use more localized numbers when making that decision.

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