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St. Paul school board chair briefly hospitalized with COVID-19

She is now at home recovering.

The chair of the St. Paul Board of Education has COVID-19 and was briefly hospitalized. 

Jeanelle Foster, who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, went to the hospital on Friday after she developed "concerning symptoms," she said in a statement on Monday

She was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was briefly hospitalized before being sent home to recover. She has asthma and is not yet eligible for the booster shot, the statement said. 

"I have been at home quarantining ever since and will remain under quarantine until I am advised by my physician that it is safe to return to work," Foster said. 

This means she won't be able to chair or participate in school board meetings. Instead, Vice Chair Jim Vue will lead the meetings. 

The timing of her absence isn't ideal. The St. Paul School District is in the middle of "critical conversations" about a plan that would close and merge several schools. 

Related: List: The St. Paul schools that would close, merge with others under new plan

"I want to assure you that, although my illness prevents me from participating fully in these conversations, I will watch them online, as I am able. I appreciate the good wishes I have received already. I am following my doctors’ orders and am eager to return to the district as soon as I am healthy again," Foster said. 

Foster stressed that although COVID case numbers are trending downward in Minnesota, the pandemic is "clearly not over yet."

"We, as leaders of SPPS, will continue to follow the advice of our public health professionals as we govern and I encourage all students, staff and families to do the same," Foster said. 

Foster is also in the middle of a re-election campaign and is now unable to campaign during the last few days before Election Day on Nov. 2.

Her current term began in 2018 and will end in December. Foster is hoping to fill the remaining two years of the school board seat vacated by Steve Marchese. She's running against Clayton Howatt. 

Foster is the second known St. Paul Board of Education member to test positive for COVID-19. Marny Xiong, was the chairwoman of the board, died in June 2020 after being diagnosed with COVID-19

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