The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed the death of a 7th school staff member from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The seventh school employee to die from the disease caused by the coronavirus was announced Thursday by the health department, though details about the identity of the school staffer and where they were employed have not been provided.
“Educators everywhere had hoped to get through the school year without losing another colleague. Tragically, we didn’t make it,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, in a statement. “Remember, this pandemic isn’t over yet. It’s still important keep yourself and your school community safe. Please, get vaccinated, get tested, and self-isolate if you could spread the virus.”
According to the Department of Health, there has also been one student death in Minnesota since the beginning of the pandemic. Furthermore, 216 students and staff have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and more than 25,000 cases have been linked to schools.
On Friday, May 14, Gov. Tim Walz is expected to cancel the statewide mask mandate, with the new guidance stating that those who have been vaccinated do not need to wear face masks indoors except in a handful of situations, though those not vaccinated are still required to do so.
Because the Safe Learning Plan created by the health and education departments is in place until the end of the school year, masks will still be mandated on Minnesota school property.
That will change for the start of the 2021/22 school year, however, with the decision on whether to require masks then left up to individual school districts.
The CDC on Thursday changed its guidance to say fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear a mask or social distance in most indoor and outdoor settings.
Walz followed suit hours later, announcing plans to end the mask mandate rather than wait until his original planned date of July 1, or when 70% of Minnesota's 16-plus population had received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Although Pfizer vaccines are now permitted for 12-15 year olds as of this week, the vast majority of students that age have not received their first shot. It's not clear yet either when the vaccine will be made available to those younger than 12.