SOUTHEAST Minn. (KTTC) -- COVID-19 cases are trending upward in many southeast Minnesota counties following the beginning of the school year.
Balancing education and public health has required teamwork between districts and health officials.
"There are instances when people are getting together. There are holidays in there, people having parties, family gatherings and things like that. I think that people are getting tired of this," said Freeborn County Public Health Director Sue Yost.
However, southeast Minnesota is seeing an increase in cases in several counties, including Goodhue.
"Definitely trending up. We were kinda level through the summer," said Vick Iocco, Goodhue County public health nurse and disease prevention control coordinator.
Despite that, the positivity rate remains around 2.3 percent.
"It's a great thing that our county has a low positivity rate. I think it speaks well to the actions that our residents are taking," said Heather Arndt, emergency preparedness nurse for Goodhue County.
Even so, there is still community spread, including at schools.
"I think you'd be hard pressed to find a school in the region that hasn't had cases," said Mike Harvey, superintendent of Zumbrota-Mazeppa School District. "We haven't had many cases."
However the Zumbrota-Mazeppa district has not seen enough cases in either Goodhue or Wabasha Counties to change the learning model or effect after school activities.
"If you want these activities to continue and you want to stay in school, you have to abide by this," Harvey said. "That's the only way the numbers won't go too high and make us go to distance learning."
Case numbers in Freeborn County did force Albert Lea High School to go back to distance learning for a week.
"They weren't happy with being out for a week but they knew we needed to do that as a precautionary situation," said Mark Grossklaus, Albert Lea High School Principal.
Other districts in Freeborn County have gone to distance learning, but Albert Lea's principal believes the students can learn safely despite an outbreak at the high school earlier in the year. He says the difference in learning from home versus at school is down to following health guidelines.
"The mask is a big thing," Grossklaus said. "Backpack, mask, water bottle and bring your Chromebook. That's all you need for school. We're excited to have you here."
He is hoping to keep them there. Public health officials are warning all Minnesotans to be diligent against the virus. They are advising taking one precaution many have not yet taken.
"It would be nice if more people would get vaccinated against the flu,"
Freeborn County reported no new cases today, staying at 546 and four deaths.
Goodhue County reported seven new cases Wednesday for a total of 389 and nine deaths. The county's health department said while cases have doubled in recent weeks, there are no current hot spots.