One Northland school was added to the Minnesota Department of Health's COVID-19 outbreak list Thursday.

A school building is put on the list if it reports five or more confirmed cases of the virus 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.

Merritt Elementary School, in Mountain Iron, was added to the list Thursday. Mountain Iron-Buhl Public Schools returned to in-person learning for all students Jan. 11. No other Northland school buildings were added or removed.

Grand Rapids High School, added Oct. 8, remains on the outbreak list.

As of Thursday, seven new school buildings were added to the list and none were removed for a total of 68 buildings remaining on the list.

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From Jan. 24-30, there were 483 more positive COVID-19 cases in schools statewide, with 209 new cases among staff and 274 new cases among students. The state reported five more staff members were hospitalized with two spending time in the ICU. Three students were hospitalized last week.

From Jan. 17-30, 346 school buildings reported one confirmed case of COVID-19, 134 reported two to four confirmed cases and 12 reported more than five. Statewide, 274 more school buildings reported at least one new case of COVID-19.

Local COVID-19 numbers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-verified 14-day case rates per 10,000 residents around the Northland for Jan. 10-23 were:

  • 37.89 in Aitkin County.

  • 23.64 in Carlton County.

  • 7.53 in Cook County.

  • 17.48 in Itasca County.

  • 55.82 in Lake County.

  • 30.69 in St. Louis County.

  • 38 in the Duluth area.

  • 20 in Central/Southern St. Louis County.

  • 17.3 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. 18 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 Feb. 2 were:

  • 29.6 in Aitkin County.

  • 28.7 in Carlton County.

  • 3.7 in Cook County.

  • 17.1 in Itasca County.

  • 34.7 in Lake County.

  • 27.8 in St. Louis County.

COVID-19 cases in St. Louis County remained low in school-age students as elementary students across the county return to five days a week. Those age 14 and under saw 13 new cases in the past week. Those ages 15-19, however, had 25 new cases.

Statewide, COVID-19 cases over the past week in these age groups were 173 for ages 4 and under; 265 for ages 5-9; 332 for ages 10-14; and 498 for ages 15-19.