COVID-19 numbers in Polk County are continuing to drop. The 14-day average of cases per capita in the county is 14.4, according to the most recent Department of Health data, down from 16.46 two weeks ago. Polk County Public Health reported 17 new cases last week, including one admission to the ICU; four positive cases have been confirmed within the East Grand Forks School District.

At the East Grand Forks School Board's regular meeting Monday, Feb. 22, Kolness highlighted the numbers as positive news. But with cases suddenly spiking in some neighboring northwest Minnesota counties, he urged the school community to continue using caution.

"We're very aware of that," he said. "We have to be on top of things and making sure that we are not letting our guard down. We can't do that. We just have too much to lose, so we have to make sure that we're following all the safety guidance."

In other district-related news:

  • This is the first week all students in the district have had the option of being back in full-time in-person learning. Since deciding to make the transition back to in-person models, Kolness told the Herald there have been very few students who have decided to opt into full-time distance learning, and in fact many students have opted out of distance learning into the in-person models. There are now 156 students in the district in full-time distance learning. Since winter break, roughly 20 elementary school students, 15 middle school students and 29 high school students have transitioned from full-time distance learning back into the regular learning models, while roughly five students who were in the regular models have since opted into distance learning.
  • As of Monday night, there are about six district employees who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine who would like to. Kolness estimates about 20% of staff have decided not to receive the vaccine.
  • East Grand Forks Senior High School could move from a seven-period school day to an eight-period day. The change would allow for more flexibility in students' schedules and would allow them to take more specialized electives. No decision was made Friday night, but it will be discussed again at a future meeting.