MDH to start publicly reporting COVID-19 cases in Minnesota schools

A student wears a mask while completing an assignment.

FOX 9 has learned starting Friday the Minnesota Department of Health will publicly report COVID-19 cases in schools throughout the state.

In a letter sent out to school leaders and obtained by FOX 9, MDH says confirmed COVID-19 cases in schools will be made available as part of their weekly COVID data reports and will reflect confirmed cases in all Pre K – 12 school buildings in the state.

Buildings with five or more confirmed cases will be identified. MDH will also provide the total number of schools impacted by the following range of cases: one case; two through four cases; and five or more. Reported cases will be for those students and staff who test positive and had been in a school while they were infectious.

This week, Waseca Public Schools made the decision to start posting their COVID-19 case numbers online for all to see.

“I think it’s an important communication item to be able to share with our community what’s happening in our buildings,” said Waseca Public Schools Superintendent Eric Hudspith.

The superintendent told FOX 9 there were some positive cases early in the year at the high school, but it no longer has any active cases. 

The state told school administrators they want to be more transparent about COVID-19 cases in schools, but the change also comes as 14-day-case rates – tracked as a tool for schools to use when determining learning models – are on the rise in 77 percent of Minnesota counties. That includes in Waseca County, which currently has the state’s highest case rate. However, Hudspith says most of the cases are coming from the federal prison in the area, which is partly why they decided to share their numbers on the district level sooner.

“We felt it was important to help tell our story and communicate with staff and families who might be nervous about that number about what the true impact is to our schools,” he said.