Fifth school staffer dies of COVID-19, total infections linked to schools passes 16,000

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. March 18, 2021 – The cumulative number of COVID-19 infections associated with Minnesota schools has surged to over 16,000 and a fifth school staff member has died of an infection linked to their work in a school, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health released Thursday. 

“The news that two school staff members have died of COVID-19 in two weeks is a tragic reminder that this pandemic isn’t over,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “Everyone in our school community – families, students and educators – must remain vigilant and keep each other safe.” 

With many school districts going on spring break this month, Specht urged educators, school staff, families and students to follow the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and delay unnecessary travel because it raises the chances of catching and spreading the new coronavirus. The full CDC guidance is posted on its website. 

“Everyone wants to be done with this pandemic, but it’s not done with us,” Specht said. “More educators are getting vaccinated every day, but we’re not over the finish line. Please look out for the health of your school community and wear your mask, keep your distance and get vaccinated as soon as you can.” 

On Thursday, the health department reported the largest week-to-week increase of the year in total COVID-19 infections associated with E-12 schools – 674. The weekly report tallied 7,465 infections among staff members and 8,720 among students – for a total of 16,185. All have been linked to attending or working in Minnesota schools of all kinds. 

The weekly report shows a total of seven more staff members and students have been hospitalized, including one more patient in the ICU. The health department did not release details of the latest death of a school staff member. 

The weekly report from the Minnesota Department of Health is available here:

About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.

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