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Back to school: Districts grapple with security, pertussis

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The State Fair is over, and cooler weather has swept across Minnesota – it must be the first day of school (for many districts, at least).

This is the first school year start since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, and the Star Tribune examines school security upgrades. In St. Paul, some schools have new entrances that require card access during school hours, new cameras, motion detectors and improved alarms, the newspaper reports. Districts are mulling all kinds of new security improvements, from hiring more security officers to upgrading to more shatterproof window glass, the newspaper reports.

How much is too much security?

“There’s a fine line between building a fortress and maintaining a safe and caring learning center,” Edina schools spokeswoman Susan Brott told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, school health officials are carefully monitoring cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, MPR reports. Last year, the state had a relatively large outbreak – 4,639 confirmed, probable and suspected cases – compared to just 657 cases in the first eight months of this year.

But public health officials are concerned that children headed back to school could bring a surge in new cases of the infection, MPR reports.

In other news, one St. Paul teacher has a great what-I-did-this-summer story: Suzanne Susens went to Myanmar for a month in an effort to better understand her Como High School students' culture, the Pioneer Press reports. Many of her students' families come from the southeast Asian nation.

School will be back in session today for 27 Minneapolis schools that do not have air conditioning. The school year started last week in the city, but district officials canceled classes in the 27 schools because of high temperatures.

And what are kids wearing this year? WCCO recently listed the top five back-to-school fashion trends for both boys and girls. Would you believe ankle boots?

Minnesota has nearly 2,000 public schools statewide, with about 825,000 students and about 52,500 teachers, the state reports.

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