Area Schools Enact Mask Mandates as COVID Surges in Students
Ada, MN — Just as school is back in session and students have been getting back together, Norman and Mahnomen County have seen a big uptick in COVID-19 cases. Since August 1st, which is around the time students began their fall practices, Norman County has seen 89 positive COVID-19 cases and Mahnomen County has reported 106. While those don’t appear to be massive numbers, they account for roughly 15% of all positive cases since April of 2020. Norman-Mahnomen Public Health Director Sarah Kjono says along with all the other usual illnesses that return each fall, it’s made for an interesting start to the school year.
Kjono estimates that roughly 5% of the student body in the two counties has had a positive COVID test and even more have had to quarantine. Unfortunately this year, schools were not given the option from the state to offer distance learning, so catching up on school work will be much more difficult for those who can’t be in the classroom.
While no schools in Norman or Mahnomen County required masks to start the year, Kjono says as the positive cases continue to increase, that and other mitigation efforts will likely change.
As of Thursday morning, both Norman County East and Waubun-Ogema-White Earth Schools had enacted mask mandates for all students, staff, and visitors. Norman County East reported 9 students out with positive cases and 40 students total out on quarantine. On Wednesday morning, the Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School District sent home 38 students for positive cases or close contacts.
Vaccinations are currently available to anyone age 12 and up. Kjono notes that there has been a slight increase in interest amongst students as they began to witness the disruptions in school first hand from not being vaccinated.