Walz highlights educator COVID-19 testing program as part of effort to return students to classrooms

Walz highlights educator COVID-19 testing program as part of effort to return students to classrooms Photo: KSTP/ Crystal Bui.

Rebecca Omastiak
Updated: February 12, 2021 06:24 PM
Created: February 12, 2021 12:06 PM

Friday, Gov. Tim Walz visited a K-8 school in Roseville to highlight an educator COVID-19 testing program.

According to state leaders, Minnesota began its "first-in-the-nation" testing program about one month ago. Since then, more than 96 percent of Minnesota's school districts have signed up to participate. Additionally, state leaders said 41 percent of private schools and two out of four tribal schools are also participating.

State leaders report the current rate of virus transmission among educators participating in the program is at 0.37 percent.

According to state leaders, as of Thursday, 85 percent of K-8 classes are conducting a form of in-person learning, and 15 percent are conducting distance learning.

MAP: Data for K-12 schools by COVID-19 case rate

"Getting our children safely back into the classroom continues to be a priority," Walz said in a statement. "From the teachers, to the parents, to school staff, to the kids, we all share the same goal of a safe return to the classroom. Testing is key to that. The educator testing program ensures that all teachers and school staff have regular, easy access to testing to allow us to identify cases and take the appropriate steps before an outbreak occurs."

Deputy Education Commissioner Heather Mueller added, "Throughout the pandemic we have learned many lessons about what works and what doesn't – and regular COVID testing works. This innovative program that provides free COVID testing to educators in their own school buildings is providing comfort and security during a school year that has seen a lot of uncertainty."

Tests are provided at no cost to schools and staff.

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