Albert Lea quarantines nearly 300 students for COVID-19 in first week of school

Nearly 300 Albert Lea students have been quarantined for exposure to COVID-19 after the first week of school, prompting changes to the school district's face mask requirements.

Albert Lea Area Schools Superintendent Mike Funk shared an update with families Thursday, stating the virus has "significantly disrupted" the start of school. After five days of school, there have been 36 positive cases and 290 students have been quarantined. He said last year the district didn't reach this level of spread until October.

The school district started the school year with a face mask recommendation. Now due to the outbreak, masks are required for all students in grades 6-12 until the end of the first quarter. School leaders will reevaluate the mandate in mid-October. 

Students participating in indoor sports will need to wear masks when they are not playing and fans will be required to wear masks. Students and fans at outdoor sporting events will not need to wear masks. Students can also take masks off at lunch.

Secondary students in quarantine can return to school on Aug. 30 if they don't have symptoms or are not waiting for test results.

At this time, the level of spread is lower in the elementary schools. Students in grades K-5 will only be required to wear masks on the bus.

Funk is urging staff to "lead by example" and wear masks for their students. Vaccination is also encouraged for everyone age 12 years old and up.

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