District: Distance learning move made after 67% of students exposed to COVID at Edison High School

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Minneapolis Public Schools officials have shed new light on what led to Tuesday afternoon’s decision to send Edison High School students out of the classroom to virtual learning for the next two weeks due to COVID-19 exposure.

According to the district, 67% of students were exposed to COVID.

"It’s extremely, extremely disappointing and a difficult situation for us to be in," MPS Superintendent Ed Graff said.

The district didn’t say how many positive cases have been reported at the school or if there was an event connected to where students caught the virus.

Edison High was on a list of 30 district schools that had at least one COVID case back on Friday, according to the MPS COVID dashboard.

Forty-two positive cases were reported on Friday, out of 41,000 staff and students district-wide. Fifteen of those cases involved students, according to the dashboard.

Based on that report, none of the schools had more than five cases, a threshold monitored by Minnesota Department of Health officials.

"It wasn’t just an exposure, it was many, many exposures, and many COVID cases actually, over half the school was affected by this,” said Greta Callahan, president of the teacher chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. “If we had smaller class sizes, this wouldn’t be happening."

The district had previously published a policy saying students who aren’t vaccinated and are exposed to COVID must quarantine for 14 days, while fully vaccinated students don’t have to quarantine.

MDH told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS its guidance currently doesn’t recommend closing schools; however, as with H1N1, regular influenza or other infectious diseases, schools may choose to close for various reasons, which may include too few staff or students in classes to be viable, as a preventive measure if there are widespread exposures, too many students are considered vulnerable.

"What’s hard is your students don’t get a chance to process that and grab what they need, it’s at the end of the school day, so there’s a little bit of panic, of course," Callahan said.

The district allowed students to come up to the high school to pick up laptops on Wednesday but there were no wireless internet cards for students who didn’t have access.

Originally, Edison posted on its website that was out of at-home COVID testing kits. However, testing kits are now available once again, according to a message sent Thursday by a district spokesperson.