MDH COVID-19 briefing: Officials say staying home when sick/exposed is key to keeping schools open

FILE - Paul Adams, 7, waits at the bus stop for the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, in Dallas, Ga. Neighboring states arrived at differing conclusions on who’s in charge of the reopening of schools. The differences in philosophy underscore some of the difficulties facing states as they grapple with how to proceed amid growing coronavirus infections in numerous states. Photo: AP/ Brynn Anderson. FILE - Paul Adams, 7, waits at the bus stop for the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, in Dallas, Ga. Neighboring states arrived at differing conclusions on who’s in charge of the reopening of schools. The differences in philosophy underscore some of the difficulties facing states as they grapple with how to proceed amid growing coronavirus infections in numerous states.

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: September 14, 2020 02:42 PM
Created: September 14, 2020 01:26 PM

With school officially underway in Minnesota, state health and education officials are urging students and staff to stay home from school or child care when feeling sick or after known exposure to COVID-19.

MDH said the COVID-19 attendance and exclusion guidance for school, child care and youth programming details several scenarios and appropriate steps for children, students and staff. Health officials discussed that and more during Monday's COVID-19 briefing.

"Staying home when you feel sick or have been exposed are some of the best defenses we have against COVID-19. The exclusion guidance helps people understand when they need to keep their children home from school or child care," said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director at Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). "Whether it's parents and families, or teachers and child care staff, the attendance and exclusion guidance and home screening tool is a proven prevention method to stop spread in our child cares and schools."

The guidance was created through a collaboration between MDH, the Minnesota Medical Association and the Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"The biggest thing we want people to understand is that any Minnesotan – including children – who has been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 needs to stay home for a minimum of 14 days," Ehresmann added. "You can't test out of quarantine after an exposure. There's no way to shorten the incubation period. So how you spend your time outside of school has a direct impact on your ability to attend school in-person."

KSTP's Complete COVID-19 Coverage

MDH said it tracks all cases where an individual attended a child care, school or other youth setting prior to testing positive for COVID-19. Of those with cases prior to the start of the school year, 70% had only one confirmed case.

"Our experience in child care over the summer has shown how effective these actions can be to keep kids healthy and centers in operation," said Susan Klammer, lead epidemiologist for child care and schools. "We know it's not easy for parents – or our students – who suddenly need to keep their children home for up to two weeks but it is a proven tool to help prevent spread and keep all of us safe. This will be critical to keeping children with the opportunity to learn in-person in our schools."

"Pediatricians and medical leaders worked with MDH on the guidance, and we are grateful for the partnership," said Dr. Singh, chair of pediatrics for Park Nicollet and co-lead of the HealthPartners and Park Nicollet Children's Health Initiative. "As a board member with the Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a practicing pediatrician, I stand by this guidance. As a mom of two school-aged children, I know personally that this is not easy on families to adjust to these disruptions and try to balance work, but this fall and winter is going to look different. We have to work together – doctors, public health, and most of all families – to keep our children, their beloved child care and school staff, and our communities safe."

With schools across the state operating in different models, MDH said school officials have already reported issues of families feeling confused or hearing conflicting messages on when their kids can attend school in-person.

"We really need families to take the guidance on when to stay home seriously," said Deb Mehr, president of the School Nurse Organization of Minnesota. "School nurses, administrators, teachers, and staff, – we're all here to be your partner in keeping everyone safe. But when families disregard the guidance, it puts our school communities in a difficult place, and ultimately can lead to more exposure and more spread. It's important that we all work together this school year to prioritize the health and safety of our students and school staff."

Below are some helpful links for parents and staff to better understand the process:

MDH really urged parents to have a plan in place for what to do if their child is sick or appears to have COVID-19. When families disregard compliance, it just creates more of a hazard for everyone else and continues to spread the virus.

Below are some other highlights from Monday's call:

  • Minnesota's seven-day rolling average positivity rate is at 4.9%, down from 5.6% last week.
  • More than 100 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at the federal prison in Waseca. MDH said a team is working with prison officials to get that situation under control. Ehresmann said the cases were introduced with inmates being transported to another state.
  • Three Minnesota colleges/universities currently have more than 100 confirmed cases: Concordia in Moorhead, Winona State and Mankato State. Ehresmann noted that some of the cases likely originated off-campus. The number of cases at Mankato is starting to stabilize while the other two affected schools just recently implemented changes and will have to see how that works, Ehresmann added. Of the 200 colleges and universities in the state, 65 have at least one case, a small number have multiple cases, according to MDH.

 


Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

Comment on Facebook

An inside look at Regions Hospital's battle against COVID-19

How scientists are tracking the coronavirus through its own genetic makeup

Minneapolis police investigating after family car stolen with 2 dogs inside

Minnesota Supreme Court dismisses GOP lawsuit trying to stop election certification