One of The Blake School's three campuses in the Twin Cities is closing for two weeks after multiple students tested positive for COVID-19 and then unknowingly exposed more than 100 other students and faculty.
Head of School Anne Stavney informed families of the situation in a letter last week, explaining that in addition to two of its Minneapolis (Northrop campus) students testing positive earlier in the week, two more students who had attended school for four days also tested positive for COVID-19.
"Theirs is likely a case of community transmission that occurred at an off-campus, non-Blake event that some of our students attended last weekend," the letter explains. "We now have a total of 100 students and 11 faculty in quarantine from our Northrop campus."
Frederick Melo of the Pioneer Press reported that the students were infected at a Halloween party.
The Blake School's Minneapolis campus has now moved to remote learning through Nov. 20, with the decision made based on a "strong recommendation" from the Minnesota Department of Health, according to the letter. All Northrop campus students and faculty have also been encouraged to quarantine for two weeks. Around 530 students attend Northrop campus, according to The Blake School website.
Siblings of Upper School students who attend campuses in Hopkins and Wayzata have also been instructed to quarantine for two weeks in an effort to eliminate transmission.
The Blake School was already planning to switch to remote teaching and learning after Thanksgiving break.
The Northrop campus, located in Minneapolis near the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, is one of three Blake campuses. The others are located in Hopkins (Blake campus) and Wayzata (Highcroft campus).
Minnesota infections rapidly rising
Minnesota has seen a rapid rise in new cases, including nearly 6,000 reported Sunday by the Minnesota Department of Health. The increase is partially tied to more testing being done, but it can't be solely attributed to testing advancements because the positivity rate is also surging upward.
For example, in Sunday's update from the state health department, there were nearly 45,000 completed tests from around 21,000 people (people are often tested multiple times). The test positivity rate when dividing the number of new cases by total tests completed was around 13% for the day, which has been common in recent daily reports.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Minnesota's percent positive rate over the past seven days is 12.78%. The World Health Organization recommended in May that a percent positive rate should stay below 5% for at least two weeks before governments consider reopening.
The disease is now widespread in all parts of Minnesota, with 34 counties exceeding 50 cases per 10,000 residents through Oct. 24, which marks the end date for the latest report from the health department that helps school districts decide which learning model – in-person, hybrid or distance learning – is the safest option for students and staff. Schools located in counties that are at the 50 cases per 10,000 threshold are advised to transition all grades to distance learning.