COVID outbreak forces 290 Albert Lea schools students to quarantine

Updated 12:20 p.m.

Five days into the new school year, the Albert Lea public schools are reinstating a mask mandate for grades six through 12 after 42 students tested positive for COVID-19, leading 290 to quarantine for exposure.

Starting Monday, all secondary students in the southern Minnesota district must wear a mask during the school day through Oct. 20. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade aren’t required to mask since those grade levels haven’t seen as high of a transmission.

The district has a total of 3,443 students enrolled. Prior to this outbreak, it had been recommending but not requiring masking.

“Our first week of school has been significantly disrupted from the large virus spread within our community,” Mike Funk, superintendent of Albert Lea Area Schools, said in a statement that noted 36 confirmed cases; the district’s website currently lists 42.

Last year, Albert Lea schools didn’t see this level of COVID-19 cases until early October, he said.

Students who are quarantined at the secondary school with no symptoms and aren’t waiting on test results can return on Monday, he added.

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