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Nashwauk-Keewatin School District considering 14-day reset following spike in COVID cases

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ITASCA CO., -- COVID-19 cases in Itasca county right now are the highest in the Northland with the lowest level of vaccination.

These numbers have health leaders concerned for the health and safety of their residents, and in some cases, their students.

At the Nashwauk-Keewatin School District, over the last three weeks, they have been forced to enact policies like student and staff masking after a notable rise in cases and symptomatic students.

Dr. Rae Villebrun, Superintendent of Nashwauk-Keewatin School's, said these numbers caused their school board to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the possibility of a 14-day reset.

According to Dr. Villebrun, this would be the last resort but a choice that may need to be made for the health and safety of the students.

"It's frightening to see how many kids we have absent. One day this week, we had 100 students gone, 65 from elementary and 35 from the high school. It's getting scary," said Dr. Villebrun.

Meanwhile, Itasca County health leaders say right now is a vulnerable time for those unprotected against the virus and urge residents to do what they can to stop the spread and keep kids in school.

"When our hospitalization rates are so high, it is really scary for those who are unvaccinated. So we really hope that folks who were maybe on the fence will help us out in Itasca and get vaccinated," said Kelly Chandler, Public Health Division Manager with Itasca County.

Right now, 50% of eligible residents in Itasca County are vaccinated, with more than 35% of children ages 12-17 having their first dose.

The Nashwauk-Keewatin school board will decide on the 14-day reset on Tuesday, October 12th.

If approved, it would go into effect Wednesday the 13th.

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Natalie Grant

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