Minnesota has updated its COVID-19 guidance to state that any children or college students returning to classes, youth sports, or extracurricular activities should get tested for the virus.
The Minnesota Department of Health says its new guidance is focused on ages 12-25, though families are also advised to get elementary-age students tested ahead of a time when schools across the state gradually reopen their buildings for in-person instruction.
The department is expanding its recommendations for who should get tested for the virus to include:
- Students returning to school, youth sports, or extracurricular activities.
- College or trade school students returning to campus or classes.
- Anyone who regularly interacts with people outside of their family unit or household.
These categories are in addition to existing recommendations for testing, which states anyone with symptoms, anyone exposed to someone who tested positive, and anyone working at places that remain open during the pandemic should get tested.
"Testing remains one of the most powerful tools we have to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff.
"We’ve worked tremendously hard and Minnesotans have made a lot of sacrifices to get students back to their classrooms, sports, and extracurricular activities. Active testing by children, college and trade school students, and those who regularly engage with folks outside of their household – like our teachers – will protect our progress and mitigate the spread of the virus."
Huff says that with the supply of COVID vaccines from the federal government remaining limited for now, testing is the best mitigation effort Minnesota has in place.
Earlier in January, Gov. Tim Walz announced Minnesota would provide training and saliva test kits for all schools that reopen for in-person or hybrid learning, so that all staff who interact with students are offered tests once every two weeks.
So far, more than 17,000 staff have been tested, with 0.36% testing positive.