Mountain Iron-Buhl Schools announced Thursday it would be going to distance learning for two weeks due to the number of COVID-19 cases in its school.

The pre-K-12 building has had 11 positive COVID-19 cases among staff and students since Oct. 9, so St. Louis County health officials recommended the school move to distance learning for two weeks, Superintendent Reggie Engebritson said.

“This will give us time to kind of reset and deep-clean the building,” she said.

Mountain Iron-Buhl started the school year with in-person learning and the plan is to resume in-person learning Nov. 2. During these two weeks, all sports and activities will be put on hold.

There will be no class Monday or Tuesday to allow for teachers and staff to prepare for the switch to distance learning, which will start Wednesday.

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The Minnesota Department of Health did not make any new Northland additions to its list of school buildings with five or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in students or staff who were in the building while infectious during a two-week reporting period. Buildings are removed from the list after 28 days of no new positive tests.

As of Thursday, 13 new school buildings were added to the list for a total of 24:

  • Blaine High School in Anoka County.

  • Roosevelt Elementary School in Becker County.

  • Loyola Catholic School in Blue Earth County.

  • Chanhassen High School in Carver County.

  • Chisago Lakes Senior High School in Chisago County.

  • Horizon Middle School in Clay County.

  • Brainerd Senior High School in Crow Wing County.

  • Hayfield Secondary in Dodge County.

  • Blue Earth Area Secondary in Faribault County.

  • Albert Lea Senior High School in Freeborn County.

  • Maple Grove Senior High School in Hennepin County.

  • Park Center IB World School in Hennepin County.

  • Isanti Middle School in Isanti County.

  • Grand Rapids Senior High School in Itasca County.

  • Roosevelt Elementary in Kandiyohi County.

  • Willmar Senior High School in Kandiyohi County.

  • Fairmont Jr./Sr. High School in Martin County.

  • Martin Luther High School in Martin County.

  • St. Paul Lutheran School in Martin County.

  • Princeton High School in Mille Lacs County.

  • Hinckley Elementary in Pine County.

  • Albany Area High School in Stearns County.

  • Rocori Senior High in Stearns County.

  • Breckenridge Senior High School in Wilkin County.

From Oct. 4-10, there were 487 more positive COVID-19 cases reported in schools statewide, with 208 new cases among staff and 280 among students. Statewide, 178 more school buildings are reporting at least one new case of COVID-19.

From Sept. 27 through Oct. 10, 368 school buildings reported one confirmed case of COVID-19; 119 reported two to four confirmed cases; and 16 reported more than five cases, with a total of 503 school buildings statewide reporting at least one COVID-19 case in the span of those two weeks.

Duluth area COVID-19 spikes put sports, activities in danger

Duluth Public Schools recently informed parents that due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the Duluth area, sports, activities and fine arts may soon be shut down.

The 14-day case rate per 10,000 residents released Thursday shows the Duluth area at 35.12, up from last week’s case rates of 33.37. If the 14-day case rate per 10,000 residents is above 30 again Oct. 22, Duluth Public Schools may take action to shut down high school activities.

If activities and sports are shut down, the Duluth area would need its bi-weekly 14-day case rate to be below 30 for three weeks in a row and show a downward trend in community spread to restart. Restart plans would be implemented in coordination with Minnesota State High School League.

“The primary goal of our protocols and any potential temporary shutdown is to keep everyone safe and healthy,” a letter sent to parents said. “In addition, if we want to continue to provide athletics and activities to students we need to keep COVID-19 levels down in our community.”

The district is urging all residents to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines by masking up, social distancing, avoiding crowds, frequently washing hands and staying home when sick.

Hermantown Community Schools Superintendent Wayne Whitwam said he would not shut down sports or activities unless there was a positive case among those groups or if St. Louis County health officials strongly recommended they do so. Hermantown is currently in hybrid for all students.

In a newsletter sent by Proctor Public Schools Superintendent John Engelking on Thursday, he said though the 14-day case rates in the Duluth area were above 30, “I do not see any significant changes or recommendations coming to our area in either school models or sports-related activities from public health.”

Proctor Public Schools is currently in hybrid for elementary students and distance learning for secondary school students.