COVID-19 cases are continuing to trend downward in the East Grand Forks School District and across Polk County.
The district has had 187 confirmed positive cases since the beginning of the school year, district Superintendent Mike Kolness told the East Grand Forks School Board at its regular meeting Monday, Feb. 8. Fifty-one of those cases were reported between Dec. 22 and Jan. 18, Kolness said, but between Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, only two positive cases were reported in the district.
The drop in cases in the district mirrors a similar trend across Polk County. The Minnesota Department of Health reports that in mid-January, the 14-day average number of cases per capita in Polk County was 16.46, far fewer than the peak of more than 260 in November.
As cases continue to drop, students are beginning to phase back into full-time in-person learning. Monday was the first day all high school freshmen were in classrooms full-time.
"It was like the first day of school," East Grand Forks Senior High School Principal Brian Loer told the School Board Monday. "There was a lot more noise, and a lot more kids in the building, so it was a good noise that we haven't heard for a while."
Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will return to full-time in-person learning on Tuesday, Feb. 16, and students in grades 10-12 will return the following Monday, Feb. 22.
In other School Board news:
- 70 more staff members were vaccinated last week, and an additional 32 staff members are scheduled to receive their vaccines Tuesday, Feb. 9. Kolness said that out of a staff of more than 300, there are still about 70 to 80 staff members who wish to be vaccinated but are still waiting for their appointment.
- Enrollment numbers have reached their lowest point since 2018, at 1,873 students. Kolness said there are a variety of reasons for the dip, but it can be at least partially attributed to changing learning models because of COVID-19. This is a trend seen across the state, he said, and the Minnesota Legislature is considering possibly using 2019-2020 enrollment numbers to allocate funding in order to avoid potential financial setbacks to the state's hardest-hit school districts. At this time last year, there were about 1,920 students enrolled in East Grand Forks.